One of the fundamental parts of any role-playing game is giving players the freedom of choice and for those choices to have consequences. Obsidian Entertainment is one such developer that understands this and has created some truly amazing RPG series like Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity and The Outer Worlds. However, one underrated title, Tyranny, may feature some of the best examples of consequences and decisions.
Tyranny uses the same engine as well as isometric real-time gameplay that Pillars of Eternity is known for. While the overall combat was criticized for being too simplistic, the RPG elements have been widely praised for their choices and uniqueness to other titles. In this world, you're not a savior meant to stop Kyros the Overlord. The world has already been conquered, and players have to navigate it as best they can without incurring the Overlord's wrath.
The game takes place in the fictional world of Terratus, which has been almost entirely conquered by the Overlord Kyros. Players take the role of a Fatebinder that serves Kyros and assisted in conquering the Tiers, the last major region to resist Kyros. However, the campaign was conducted by the armies of the Scarlet Chorus and the Disfavored. These armies and their commanders conduct warfare and occupation in ways opposite from one another and largely hate each other for it.
While the Tiers have already been conquered, these armies' refusal to work together has allowed a rebellion to surface, which players must rectify. If the rebels aren't defeated within eight in-game days, Kyros will unleash an Edict (a magical commandment that devastates whole lands) that'll kill everyone in the Tiers. That's one hell of an incentive and one that might force you to make hard choices that, overall, are meant to save as many people as possible. To put things into perspective, one of the choices players can make during the main quest is strangling an infant child to death to end a previously cast Edict over a region. This is such a dark choice that's extremely rare to find in any other RPG titles to date.
As a Fatebinder, players might sometimes be called upon to judge on trials and disputes from various characters. Kyros' Empire does have a list of laws that can better guide you to make a ruling, though some are written in ways that make them more open to interpretation. With this, players can choose whether to uphold the spirit or letter of these laws. Every scenario is different, and how they're resolved can alter your reputation for factions and characters.
The world of Tyranny also takes place during an early Iron Age, where the secrets of forging iron weapons and armor have only just been developed and provided a huge advantage for soldiers. Similar to our own real-life Iron Age, daily life is primitive, brutal and unforgiving for most, and no matter the choices you make, usually, someone or some people will suffer. Evil choices aren't necessarily made by players just for the sake of being evil, but towards a greater good, or perhaps because pressure is being applied by the Overlord. Slavery, for example, is still widespread and seen as a societal norm throughout the world. However, many of Kyros' laws are progressive for the time period, such as enforcing gender equality and guaranteeing rights to its citizens. While being ruled over by Kyros isn't easy, the Tiers itself was a divided, violent land before the conquest, with each region ruled by its own city-state or noble house.
One of the most unique aspects of Tyranny is its Conquest Mode, which is a key part of character creation and defines the game world by setting the stage of the story, determining the fate of many settlements minor factions and their relations with one another. It is a mechanic that lets you make meaningful, difficult choices before the game even starts, changing the world and offering players the opportunity of true replay value. Taking part in Kyros' conquest of the Tiers, the Fatebinder can make various choices on how the war was conducted, and whether or not you sided with the Disfavored, the Scarlet Chorus, the locals or tried to stay neutral when asked to make commands or mediate disputes.
Tyranny is a short but memorable experience for long-time fans of the genre, and while this first game is considered unfinished, Obsidian should consider making a second title. Whether players choose to be a downright terrifying, evil bastard to enemies and allies alike or become a reluctant but necessary evil, this world has much potential and should be expanded upon.
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