The GWJ CRPG Club - Game 13: Tyranny (Ending Soon!)

I've put this on hold while I finish Operencia, but I should be done next week and turning back to Tyranny. When I left off last, I had just debriefed with Tunon.

Finally got around to restarting. Now into Act 2, having sided with the Rebels.

It's a bit jarring how one person will treat me like I'm a loyal servant of Kyros (and my dialogue options mostly reflect this) then another person acts like I'm already in open conflict with the Overlord. I guess I can justify some of this as due to the chaos of war and primitive communication networks, but if so, that should at least be hinted at. And considering that I've carved out a little kingdom run by anti-Kyros rebels and we've begun to expand our territory, it should start becoming obvious to most what's going on, especially to someone like Tunon who seems merely suspicious and easily assuaged.

I just got done debriefing with Tunon the second time, and I can't really understand why he didn't just execute me. Actually, I can think of a few possible reasons, but none of them seem supported by the narrative so far.

Some of my various speculations on why Tunon hasn't executed me:

Spoiler:

Despite what he says, he's not fully on board with Kyros and might entertain alternate systems of justice, at least on a subconscious level.

He thinks I'm embarking on some kind of exceedingly elaborate scheme to indoctrinate or annihilate the rebels and put Ashe and Nerat in their place, but for some reason doesn't care to question me on the details.

He likes to give wayward Fatebinders exceedingly long ropes to hang themselves with.

He's an obtuse moron.

There are major inconsistencies in the writing.

Right now, I'm leaning toward the last explanation.

gewy wrote:

It's a bit jarring how one person will treat me like I'm a loyal servant of Kyros (and my dialogue options mostly reflect this) then another person acts like I'm already in open conflict with the Overlord. I guess I can justify some of this as due to the chaos of war and primitive communication networks, but if so, that should at least be hinted at. And considering that I've carved out a little kingdom run by anti-Kyros rebels and we've begun to expand our territory, it should start becoming obvious to most what's going on, especially to someone like Tunon who seems merely suspicious and easily assuaged.

My read on it was that it's common, and almost expected, for Archons to carve out their own power-bases and openly conflict with each other. They're less like generals in a single army than warlords who owe their allegiance to a single commander. It seemed to me that it was less a problem that the Chorus and Disfavored were fighting, and more that this fighting was getting in the way of Kyros's wishes.

Still making good progress in act 2. Convinced

Spoiler:

Mattias

to join the Scarlet Chorus, and I’m well on my way to accessing a new Spire and good loot. Had a few battles that weren’t difficult per se, but felt pretty sloggy. Enemies seemingly a lot of health or defensive that we just had to whittle down over time. I’m hoping this is just a mid-game slog before I start feeling wildly overpowered or something.

Lakerboy32 wrote:

I'm in!

Please add me to the playing list.

I played a bit more and the game did suggest some possible reasons why Tunon didn't just execute me, mostly in the missives. I like the missives and the little choose your own adventure encounters while travelling.

Still have only been to play sparingly, but there has been progress.

I've activated the third and fourth spires (the Stone Sea spires). Had a great time with the quests in that area and felt like the interplay with the chorus, stoneweavers, and beastfolks worked pretty well. I agree completely that the missives and mini-encounters as you travel fill out the world in a satisfying way. Going to be interesting to see if some of my replies to the missives come back to haunt me.

Playing standard difficulty, the fights are largely managing themselves at this point (that is, I mostly worry about my PC and activating her abilities while intervening with the rest only for little adjustments and healing). I've kept Barik and Verse throughout while rotating in and our Eb, Landry, and Sirin at various points. I rather wish I'd had Kills-In-Shadow with me for the Stone Sea; alas. Am now off to recruit the Unbroken.

Just finished Bastard's Wound. Maybe it was low expectations, but I thought it was pretty decent content.

I am in. Just picked this up on Steam. Will start tonight.

Okay, So I seem to be saying the wrong things to everybody and I think I have missed the opportunity to pick up some characters into my party. I made a magic based character and I have Verse. I just picked up the sage. There is no balance to my party, and I am struggling with combat, so I am thinking maybe I should restart?

I have all five Spires now, and decided to head to Bastard's Wound to see how that content is for myself. Comments here and in the Steam reviews have me pretty wary, but if nothing else I'm hoping I can do the companion quests there. Any idea how long the Bastard's Wound content is supposed to last? I suppose once I finish it I'm poised to hop into Act III.

I’m gonna guess it took me 3-4 hours or so.

Aaaand done!

Finished the game last night.

Spoiler:

Not sure how all the endings can change, but I completed the game by forging an alliance among the rebel factions and casting the edict that halts Kyros' advance. I also had Tunon join me (that was so f***ing cool), killed the archon of shadows despite having huge favor with him, as well as the Voices and Ashe. (Not sure if that's just how those play out or if there are other outcomes there where one or more might live.) I freed Barik from the armor, and he remained sullen as ever. Verse went on to form a sort of new Fury group, which seems like a nod toward her becoming a new Voices of Nerat or perhaps they intended for the Voices to inhabit her should there have been a sequel? None of the other characters seemed to get anything particularly personal about them, which was disappointing. I was particularly vexed that I never saw any opportunity to free Sirin from her helm. Did Obsidian have companion quests left on the cutting room floor?

In general, I loved the game far more than I expected, and agree with the comments (I think there were a couple) that the third act feels a bit incomplete and rushed. It's really rather beautifully paced through the early and midgame, and then it's a lot of, "Go here, and kill him. Go there, and kill them. Done." Some quests that I thought would come to a bigger head just kind of fizzled out. There were still a few awesome moments to be sure (see spoilers), but I can't help wonder what could have been had the game gotten another year(ish) of development. And god I do wish we could have a sequel someday. There's so much that could be done in this world. Would love to see more RPGs done in this mold (a bit shorter/tighter focus, but lots of traditional trappings).

All in, it was a great choice for RPG club!

Lakerboy32 wrote:

Okay, So I seem to be saying the wrong things to everybody and I think I have missed the opportunity to pick up some characters into my party. I made a magic based character and I have Verse. I just picked up the sage. There is no balance to my party, and I am struggling with combat, so I am thinking maybe I should restart?

If you missed

Spoiler:

Barik

It's probably worth backtracking to bring him in, but if you just got the sage, then I don't think you've missed out on anyone else yet. Several of the potential companions don't come up until later. But yeah, as a magic-based character with Verse, you'll benefit from having the spoilered name above, who is probably the best character in the game for drawing and taking fire.

My apologies, all! I've been away for a bit. Congrats to everyone who has finished or joined up. I'll tidy up the place and get everything recorded over the upcoming weekend.

I should be around going forward.

Just captured the Ocean Spire, which makes 3/5 and little more than halfway through the second act.

Other than the odd misstep or ambush, combat has become a bit faceroll-y for me so I'm just focusing on enjoying the stories and puzzles. I'm alternating between Verse + Barik and then Sirin + Kills-In-Shadow with myself (Nephele - caster/debuffer) and Lantry as core members.

One thing that's bothering me is:

Spoiler:

All the cool heavy armor that I have to keep vendoring because my one party member that actually wears armor (Barik) is stuck in his. I went through the whole quest line with the rogue Forge Bound armorer but seem to have hit a dead end

Looking at other spoilers above, it appears that it's possible to get him out of it eventually. Is it possible to do this mid game or do I have to wait for the Third Act and the confrontation with Ashe?

GioClark wrote:

One thing that's bothering me is:

Spoiler:

All the cool heavy armor that I have to keep vendoring because my one party member that actually wears armor (Barik) is stuck in his. I went through the whole quest line with the rogue Forge Bound armorer but seem to have hit a dead end

Looking at other spoilers above, it appears that it's possible to get him out of it eventually. Is it possible to do this mid game or do I have to wait for the Third Act and the confrontation with Ashe?

One of the strange design decisions they made with this game is that Barik is literally the only companion who can wear heavy armour, and he's locked into his specialty set for most of the game. Thus, unless your fatebinder is rocking a heavy armour build (which is likely a bad choice, cause light armour's avoidance is better), all those pieces of heavy armour you find effectively become vendor trash.

I'm looking forward to checking out everyone's spoiler tags once I'm finished. I'm nearly all the way through Bastard's Wound, and I've enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm surprised so many here and in the Steam reviews really panned it. I haven't hit any crazy bugs, though it's clear there's less polish here (so many typos in the text!). But overall the story sucked me in, the Oldwalls dungeon was expansive and fun to explore, and the scenarios gave me some good opportunities to flesh out the role playing for my Fatebinder.

Yeah, unless your PC uses it, found heavy armor is largely wasted in this game (unless I've missed something, which is entirely possible). Weird choice there.

Wrapped up Bastard's Wound and dove right into Act 3. I continued to enjoy Bastard's End, but the conclusion was a little limp.

Spoiler:

I killed Jaspos and Wagstaff, and installed Reef-Talon as leader. I would have killed Mell as well for his involvement in targeting some Beastwomen for death if the game had allowed it. Discovering what those three were doing to the Beastwomen made me feel nothing but rage towards those three, so I didn't really give them much time to speak when the time came. I just wish there'd been a little more wrap-up once that final fight was over. It felt like there could have been more conversations to explain where the settlement goes from here, but instead nobody really had any reaction. That's my only real disappointment about that content.

I like the raised stakes going into Act 3. I've got a couple new companion quests to do, so I'll be wrapping those up before diving in to what's next as far as me and the other Archons go.

Finished a couple of nights ago. Overall a solid game. I'm a bit bummed out we got a sequel to Pillars of Eternity instead of this. I would have liked to continue the story and see my Fatebinder take the fight to Kyros.

Minor story spoilers:

Spoiler:

I joined the rebels and my final alliance included: The Vendrian Guard, Unbroken, Earthshakers and Forge-born. I felt like Act 1 and 2 were pretty solid- watching the Tiers fall into further chaos, declaring my opposition to Kyros, then gathering up my allies. All while unlocking the power of the Spires. Act 3 seemed a bit underwhelming. Basically I just went from battle to battle, taking out one Archon after another without much challenge. Arguing cases before Tunon was fun, but unfortunately, I couldn't sway him to my side and had to kill him.

Things I liked:

The worldbuilding. It feels fleshed out but not overloaded with extraneous details like they're dumping the entire content of a tabletop campaign setting handbook.

I was truly interested in some of the world's mysteries. Who built the Spires and Oldwalls? What are the bane? Where did the beastwomen come from? What is Kyros? Too bad we'll get no answers.

The characters were memorable- both the party members and the major NPC's (Ashe, Nerat, etc). I've already forgotten everyone in Pillars of Eternity by contrast. Dammit. I was wrong. I just remembered that annoying monk who talked in riddles and was always going on about that ridiculous God Bomb. Wish I could forget about him.

The overall plot of forming a rebel coalition to oppose an all-powerful oppressor. It's been done before, but sometimes tropes persist because they're just satisfying. Everyone loves an underdog story.

The reputation system, missives and the random encounters on the road.

The length was just right for me. Ended before I started getting bored.

Things that were OK:

Combat. I've decided I'm not a huge fan of pausable real time combat; I prefer turn-based. I didn't mind it though, in part because it wasn't very hard and didn't get frustrating.

Inventory. It wasn't overly tedious. My inventory wasn't full of random objects I didn't dare risk selling like the earlier Witcher games or Divinity Original Sin. Still, I think developers could stand to streamline this even further. Maybe there are a lot of people that love fiddling around with their inventory, min/maxing characters, guzzling different potions for each character before every combat, but not me.

Things I didn't like:

Binary choices. You know- where the game loudly telegraphs, "You can pick quest A, but then you can't do quest B". "You can save character X, but character Y will die." Seems like this is the go to strategy to make players feel like they're making important choices, but it often feels forced. It's especially egregious when it cuts off an entire area. I never got to visit the Burning Library. Does this improve replayability? Sure, but it's a rare game nowadays that I'll ever play more than once. I want to be able to see everything in one shot. I just finished Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and it had one of these choices that locks you out of some content. So did Dragon Age: Inquisition. Wasteland 2 had one of these, but it wasn't as bad because you could still visit the other area, it was just too late to save it. I guess Mass Effect as well, but losing Ashley was not a substantial loss, so (shrug).

Nice work gewy! I'm a touch full with work and video stuff until the weekend, but I'll get this updated then and be sure to level you up.

ubrakto wrote:
Lakerboy32 wrote:

Okay, So I seem to be saying the wrong things to everybody and I think I have missed the opportunity to pick up some characters into my party. I made a magic based character and I have Verse. I just picked up the sage. There is no balance to my party, and I am struggling with combat, so I am thinking maybe I should restart?

If you missed

Spoiler:

Barik

It's probably worth backtracking to bring him in, but if you just got the sage, then I don't think you've missed out on anyone else yet. Several of the potential companions don't come up until later. But yeah, as a magic-based character with Verse, you'll benefit from having the spoilered name above, who is probably the best character in the game for drawing and taking fire.

Thanks! I restarted and then found Barik. The fights seem much more manageable now.

Finished!

I really like this, overall. The worldbuilding in particular was excellent. I'm sad we probably won't see more of this world.

Here's how my game ended up:

Spoiler:

I pretty steadily sided with the Scarlet Chorus throughout the game, so I accused Graven Ashe of instigating the civil war. Bleden Mark killed him in the court room. Then, Tunon was so impressed by my answers to our own trial that he sore allegiance to me. Bleden Mark coudn't be swayed, so we fought him. Outside of the beginning couple hours of the game, this was the only genuinely challenging fight of the game. It only took two tries, but that's more that the vast majority of other encounters in the game.

After this, I sacrificed Verse to Nerat. Her personality promptly wrangled all the others within Nerat, and the Voices of Verse was born. She was happy to continue supporting me. As Kyro's armies marched from the north, I proclaimed my loyalty and announced the conquest of the Tiers was complete. The way things shook out was a little disjointed, especially considering the fact the Scarlet Chorus were left to run rampant around the countryside. Still, everything was mostly consistent with how I played my character.

Mechanically, the only thing I'll take the time to note is that it's one of the few games where nearly every level-up had me agonizing over my choices. All the abilities were good! My character ended up at level 19, and everyone else was 17 or 18 in comparison.

Anyway, I'm glad I got to play this, and now I get to check out everyone else's choices here!

gewy wrote:

Things I didn't like:

Binary choices. You know- where the game loudly telegraphs, "You can pick quest A, but then you can't do quest B". "You can save character X, but character Y will die." Seems like this is the go to strategy to make players feel like they're making important choices, but it often feels forced. It's especially egregious when it cuts off an entire area. I never got to visit the Burning Library. Does this improve replayability? Sure, but it's a rare game nowadays that I'll ever play more than once. I want to be able to see everything in one shot. I just finished Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and it had one of these choices that locks you out of some content. So did Dragon Age: Inquisition. Wasteland 2 had one of these, but it wasn't as bad because you could still visit the other area, it was just too late to save it. I guess Mass Effect as well, but losing Ashley was not a substantial loss, so (shrug).

I think the underlying design goal here is to create a wide possibility space, so that your game becomes relatively unique; they're respecting your decisions more than most games do. And the replayability thing may come into play later; you might pick it back up in a couple years and play it again, and see a bunch of new stuff.

But your overall gripe is one that game beancounters share. In the first Wing Commander, for instance, they had a whole branching plot tree with a ton of possible outcomes and mission zones. But then most players repeated missions until they won, so almost all the failure states ended up being passed over completely. Management didn't like spending a bunch of money making things that players never saw, which was part of the push toward linear instead of branchy games.

Tyranny's design is one that's not often used, and given how poorly it sold, I don't think anyone will try it again soon.

edit: although the Wasteland games definitely do that, now that I think about it. You have a few binary choices in Wasteland 2 that end up destroying an area or a faction and preserving someone or somewhere else. It looks like Wasteland 3 is doing the same thing, but I bounced off when I realized that their design goal was to never give you an unambiguously good outcome.

The Witcher 2 also did this - your choice at the end of Act 1 determines the location and characters you spend time with in Act 2.

Tyranny in particular seems built to encourage replays. The short length relative to other RPGs means it's a lot easier to try out different paths. Dragon Age 2 was similarly shorter than other RPGs (especially Origins) so I saw more people replaying multiple times to romance others, choose different outcomes, etc. Even if I don't expect I'll replay Tyranny any time soon, I'm glad to know I have practically a whole new game to experience when and if I do. I like knowing that the possibility space is larger than my one path through. It makes the world feel real, and the consequences feel like they matter. I think that's what a lot of people want out of their RPGs, not just a linear path through a bunch of video game levels.

After all the excitement of joining in this round, I think I’m going to be bailing on Tyranny I love the concept and the story has been pretty engaging so far but the frequency and tedium of combat makes me not want to start it up in the face of all my other options (very similar to my last Planescape Enhanced attempt actually). I think Disco Elysium has permanently spoiled me by showing that you don’t have to fight every god-damned thing in the world to enjoy a fantastic RPG.

I think part of my issue wasn't so much the branching structure itself but how obvious it was. Several times when I was given a choice, it felt like I was looking behind the curtain into the game's structure and seeing my position on a large developer flow chart rather than actually weighing the pros and cons of a decision as my character. I'm sure it's a lot harder to make all the choices seem organic with the high number of permutations though.

Thinking about it, another game that I think approaches this one's level of ambition in terms of player choice and outcome is Alpha Protocol. It's been a long time since I've played it, but my recollection is it felt significantly more natural in terms of offering a range of divergent outcomes.

Alpha Protocol and Tyranny were both Obsidian, of course. Interestingly, gewy, your reaction to Tyranny is the one I had to Fallout New Vegas. I felt like I was a playing a spreadsheet because the ways to manipulate all the factions felt really transparent to me in the same way you describe Tyranny's choices. Perhaps they have a certain design sensibility that really stands out in varying ways, depending on the game and person.

beanman101283 wrote:

Finished!

I really like this, overall. The worldbuilding in particular was excellent. I'm sad we probably won't see more of this world.

Here's how my game ended up:

Spoiler:

I pretty steadily sided with the Scarlet Chorus throughout the game, so I accused Graven Ashe of instigating the civil war. Bleden Mark killed him in the court room. Then, Tunon was so impressed by my answers to our own trial that he sore allegiance to me. Bleden Mark coudn't be swayed, so we fought him. Outside of the beginning couple hours of the game, this was the only genuinely challenging fight of the game. It only took two tries, but that's more that the vast majority of other encounters in the game.

After this, I sacrificed Verse to Nerat. Her personality promptly wrangled all the others within Nerat, and the Voices of Verse was born. She was happy to continue supporting me. As Kyro's armies marched from the north, I proclaimed my loyalty and announced the conquest of the Tiers was complete. The way things shook out was a little disjointed, especially considering the fact the Scarlet Chorus were left to run rampant around the countryside. Still, everything was mostly consistent with how I played my character.

Mechanically, the only thing I'll take the time to note is that it's one of the few games where nearly every level-up had me agonizing over my choices. All the abilities were good! My character ended up at level 19, and everyone else was 17 or 18 in comparison.

Anyway, I'm glad I got to play this, and now I get to check out everyone else's choices here! :D

Amazing. I love how differently your game went compared to mine.