Tyranny is a story-driven cRPG by Obsidian that saw the light of the day in 2016. The world of Terratus is already under the thumb of Kyros the Overlord – a conqueror from the Northern Empire whose immense power includes Edicts, impressive feats of magic that can stay active for hundreds of years and ravage the land and population alike. Evil has won, and only the last bastion of rebels that continues to struggle is a little scrap of the land called the Tiers.
If you expect Tyranny to be a story of a noble hero that takes the fight to the despotic Overlord and topples their reign of tyranny then you might be right… but you can also be quite mistaken. The war has hardened the population of the Tiers, and your compassion can be mistaken for weakness while firmness holds true. It is not always a hero that gets the best result.
Tyranny is one of the games with the biggest replayability and most reactivity of the world towards your decisions.
The game starts with Conquest – a short interactive sequence that allows you to choose what your character has been up to during the first three years of Conquest of the Tiers (the events of the game take place right after the sequence is over). With a few choices, you can affect how certain factions of characters will consider your Fatebinder through the entirety of the game. Some of your decisions can bring you a favor of certain organizations and make your interaction with them easier while others might completely shut down certain storylines or require you to take a longer way to achieve your goal.
You can choose to skip the Conquest and the game will split the events during the early years of the war among various NPCs.
Your character is a Fatebinder of Tunon the Adjudicator, Archon of Justice. Consider yourself something akin to a battle lawyer, your tasks including investigating, reporting and sometimes delivering justice via execution of other means. However, your more mundane work is left behind when the Conquest comes to a halt due to the bickering of the iron-clad legions of the Disfavored and the masses of the Scarlet Chorus, leaving them to argue in front of the keep of Vendrien Well. You are chosen to deliver an Edict to speed up the conquest with simple enough terms – either the Keep gets taken, or everyone in the alley dies, friend and foe alike.
Straight from the intro, the game offers you four branching paths: the more obvious, straightforward and generally more predictable ways of the Legion and the Chorus (joining the Disvafored or the Scarlet Chorus respectively), leading the remains of the Tiersmen armies in Rebel path or betraying everyone for your own gain as an Anarchist.
Bastard’s Wound DLC added an additional let’s say “half-path”, remaining loyal to Kyros as every one of the above would have pitted you against the Overlord’s rule at some point in time. This is the path I chose for my latest playthrough and the one I had the most fun with compared to others, rivaled maybe by the Anarchist.
Your choices will decide the future of the Tiers and the entire world: what factions will you pursue to join you if any? Will you seek an alliance or subjugate, scatter or destroy others? What is your final goal – peace of Kyros, the good of the world or your own ambition?
On the mechanical side, there isn’t much to comment on. Tyranny is a real-time cRPG with a pause that plays like many other games of the genre. There are some good and not-so-good elements to it: you can create your own spells, upon earning a certain reputation with the companions you get the combo-abilities with them such as throwing Verse high in the air for her to shoot your chosen target thrice, artifact weapons have their own skills – and there is entirely not enough space on the UI to place those in.
Tyranny also really dislikes giving you gear so expect to spend quite some time brandishing the same weapon or the same armor. And even when the gear drops, chances are it will be heavy armor and a two-handed sword or spear.
In-game, you get to meet and recruit six companions of various backgrounds and beliefs. You can either win their loyalty or control them with fear. Each has a personal quest to pursue, some of them longer, some of them shorter, that offer more information about them as people and also about the organization they belong to.
Bastard’s Wound also added the ability to get to know Verse or Barrik better in a one-time fling – if you’re into that, you might want to check our list of the games that let you romance your protag’s companions!
Like many other cRPGs, Tyranny is relatively weird about the things developers choose to voice. Normally you would expect at least the main quest to be voiced in all it’s branching glory, but no. Similarly, you can find yourself reading through one of the side-quests only to hear a fully-voiced commentary from your companions on it in a moment.
- Creative setting & a good story
- High replayability & reactivity
- Unique spell system
- Short & ends abruptly
- Audio balance is off
- Sometimes glitchy
- Pillars of Eternity
- Divinity: Original Sin
- Pathfinder: Kingmaker