Pyre is an intriguing, beautiful, and weird mix of a RPG with a mini-game filling in for what normally would be fighting in most other games. The PAX East demo was only about 20 minutes long, but it packed a ton of different aspects of the game into those few minutes.
The story starts with your soon to be companions finding you on the side of the road passed out. When you awaken they introduce themselves and ask you if you are a reader. As it turns out you can read the ritual book and will be able to learn the secrets of the rites and direct the party where they will need to go in order to participate. The rites are the key to everyone earning their freedom and are the mini game Pyre is built around.
The mini game reminded me a lot of a simplified version of Blitzball from FFX… Without the giant ball of water and the miraculous not drowning part. There’s two opposing teams of three people (your team is your three companions whom you control during this phase). The idea is to get a ball from the middle to the other team’s fire and reduce their points down to zero before they get your points down to zero. It seemed like the further away I was when I tossed the ball in yielded more points, but of course it was also riskier because the other team could intercept.
I lost the first match-up because I was a smidge slow to pick up on the fact reducing the point total was what I wanted to do. The upside is losing the first match didn’t bar me from progressing, all of my companions just earned a bit less experience than they did when I won the next match. The experience is particularly useful because it unlocks the ability to spec them with special abilities which help in winning matches.
Throughout the demo there were a few opportunities to have various dialogues with your companions and you’ll be able to have different effects on them depending on how you respond. For example, at one point Ruky (who is a humanoid dog with a mustache) asked me I thought his mustache looked bad and if he should shave it off. I of course said it looks great and not to cut it off. As a result, Ruky felt cheered up and received a morale stat bonus. Since these dialogues do have a direct impact on the game it isn’t surprising you can’t select every option, so choose wisely.
Additionally, while camping I had the option of mentoring a companion, go scavenging for supplies, or studying the Ritual book. Sadly, there were only two nights of camping during the demo so I only did the mentoring and scavenging for supplies. Mentoring was pretty directly giving whichever companion I chose an experience boost outside of the minigame. Scavenging is also pretty directly obvious to what it is.
It’s also worth noting you aren’t just wandering around purgatory walking everywhere; you have a really nice wooden wagon to travel in. The best aspect of the wagon is there are things to explore and interact with inside, though sometimes the message you receive is just telling you to leave that thing alone for right now. Aside for a random infestation of some kind of cute impish creature, the wagon was reasonably homey.
Lastly, but certainly not least, the writing from the demo was wonderful. Like I previously mentioned I only saw about 20 minutes of the game but the writing was immediately engaging and fun. The dialogues and how information is conveyed is entertaining, quirky, silly, peculiar, and honestly everything I expect from Supergiant Games. I can’t wait to see how the story and the characters develop over the course of the entire game.
Sadly, Pyre isn’t slated to come out until 2017 but until then I’ll be eagerly awaiting any new info as it becomes available.