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Four Things We Learned About Obsidian's Tyranny

We played a demo of the grimdark fantasy RPG Tyranny recently and learned some new details about it. 

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The latest from Obsidian Entertainment, Tyranny is a story-driven top-down RPG with a handful of new ideas. We already shared our initial impressions about the game during E3 2016, but a recent demo gave us a more complex idea of what Tyranny is all about. Here’s a few things we learned during the demo.

It’s Good to be Bad

Tyranny isn’t a heroic story. At least, not at first. In Tyranny, the bad guys have won, claiming virtually every aspect of the world through violent conquest. This has been accomplished by the work of two armies, the Disfavored and the Scarlet Chorus, whose often troubled relationship has worked out well enough to allow for such mass success.

Your character is aligned with either of these armies, depending on what choices you make. Whereas I normally play chaotic good to chaotic neutral-type characters, I found that being closely related to the bad guys allowed me to explore new character options I hadn’t attempted before. I was more brash, more to-the-point, more brazen in my decisions. It’s a small thing, but the fact that I started off on the side of the antagonist was wickedly fun.

Many Shades of Grey

The choices of Tyranny are layered and intricate, striking the balance between adhering to one character or group’s motivations while also having distinct ups and downs for each. When allied soldiers are discovered among the enemy troops, one side argues to execute the deserters, while the other insists they’re friendly spies planted in enemy camps to get information. With the decision squarely in your hands, you’ll have to figure the fate of these characters and eventually live with the consequences.

Speaking of which…

Decisions Have Weight

Having a game react to your choices isn’t necessarily a new thing, but Tyranny’s attention to detail is significant. During the start of the game, you’ll be given the chance to play what is known as “conquest,” a brief, heavily text-based portion of the story in which you make decisions that shape who your character is in relation to everyone else in the world.

The choices you make will impact how characters feel toward you from the start of the game. When meeting with other military leaders, I realized how much my actions had affected their opinions of me. One grew angry that I allowed the aforementioned spies to live and immediately found it difficult to trust me. There are moments like this throughout that really served to be useful narrative builders, giving me more to work with and care about in terms of what decisions I made. A lot of them seemed to have potential to really affect things down the road, So, whenever a choice popped up, I felt reason to give a little more thoughts to these things than I normally did.

Teamwork is Key

In true RPG fashion, you’re going to be traveling with a lot of different companions wo each have their own strengths and weaknesses relative to each other. In Tyranny, one of the cooler systems at work is the fact you can combine the abilities of two different characters and use them as one.

One such attack saw a creature pounding the ground, which launched one archer into the air and gave him clearance to rapid-fire several arrows into the target. ANother had my team’s biggest member acting as a tank, taunting the enemy and making it easy for another one of my characters to sneak up behind it and stab them in the back. It was much more satisfying than perhaps it should have been.

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty