Obsidian Entertainment has finally released their latest old-school RPG — Tyranny, but is it actually good?
Tyranny follows in the footsteps of Pillars of Eternity as Obsidian’s attempt at keeping the CRPG genre alive and kicking. Tyranny takes inspiration from classic Western RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment.
But the question now is — is the game actually good?
Well the answer is yes, or at the very least it’s not bad. Based on this Reddit thread, the game has so far received mainly positive reviews from several outlets.
At the time of this writing, the game holds a Metacritic score of 83, which is not bad especially for such a niche genre. So let’s get into detail what exactly makes the game work as well as what’s stopping it from being perfect.
Tyranny Game Review: The Good
First let’s talk about the good. As with pretty much every Obsidian game, what Tyranny does very well is its world-building. MMORPG’s review phrases it like so:
Like Pillars before it, Obsidian has built an incredibly rich world with ages of history and lore to pull from. But where Pillars left me feeling overwhelmed in an unfamiliar place, the less detail-muddled world of Tyranny immediately pulled me in.
In addition to that, many outlets found the unique skill system and magic system to be greatly satisfying. PC Gamer had this to say on the skill system:
Instead of selecting a class, I choose which skills and weapons I want to use, but I’m free to switch it up whenever, and my character grows organically depending on what weapons and spells I prioritize. It’s a great system because it allows me to experiment with and change my character’s combat style without having to start a new game.
And then follows it up praising the magic system as well:
Another system I enjoyed allowed me to create my own spells using special insignias discovered while exploring. … Having so much control over spellcasting adds a great deal of depth, and I loved updating my spells as my character became more powerful.
But what probably stood out the most for many outlets was just how much impact being evil had to them. As well as how Obsidian handled the very notion of evil. In their review PC World comments:
But Tyranny promised something more. Here in this world you would navigate between different evil factions, some chaotic, some merely tools of the bureaucracy, some overtly evil, some more insidious.
Tyranny: The Bad
So the game’s strongest points are its narrative and world, as well as an interesting take on traditional RPG systems. So where does it fall short exactly?
Well as good as its spell and skill systems are, many outlets felt that these systems were wasted because the combat wasn’t all that good. In their review PCGamesN has this to say:
It’s such a shame, then, that fights are largely boring, especially when compared to Pillars of Eternity. The system itself is fantastic, perhaps the best descendant of Infinity Engine-style combat, but the actual encounters are bizarrely conservative, with most enemies being simple soldiers and the occasional magic user, who generally just stay in one place and wait for you to engage them before moving. Patrols are rare.
And in addition to that, it seems to be a unanimous criticism that the ending is also not handled well. With many outlets calling it out as some sequel-bait because it seems the game actually ends in a cliff hanger, and a rather unsatisfying one at that. PC World once again comments on the issue saying:
And it doesn’t help that the ending is blatant sequel-bait, dangling a bunch of loose threads right when it feels like you’re getting a glimpse of the overarching plot.
Tyranny: The Verdict
So it’s not a perfect game — but what game is, really? It has its short comings especially in with regards to the game’s final act and core combat system, but it does so many other things so well that many reviewers were able to overlook these shortcomings.
In the end of the day, to many of these outlets, the game still shines as a very good CRPG and a great throwback to the classic Western RPGs of the 90’s. For any major RPG fan out there, especially those that enjoy a strong narrative and a game where your choices do matter, Tyranny is the game for you.
Tyranny is available on Steam for PC.