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

Wrapped up the main quest in Lethian's Crossing tonight, looks like the next step is another spire. So making some decent progress. The final battle in the walls was tricky. Got it on the second attempt. The once-per-rest skills are very powerful, and having them active on the second attempt made the difference.

Still having fun, along the lines of a 7/10. Fiddling with the spellcrafting system is fun, especially when you get things sorted out with a nice powerful spell that works the way you want it to.

In that sort of Tyranny way, I did struggle with the options available to us at the end of the quest...

Spoiler:

We were give the option of either killing Zendaya after we freed her or sending her to the Voices of Nerat. We chose the latter, and Nerat promptly tortured and killed her. Sigh.

Putzed around just a little bit yesterday, after reading about the role of trainers in the game. Managed to hire some at the spires we currently control, and quickly boost some skills with some cold hard cash. It looks like we've completed about half of the major quest lines in Act 2, so it's on to the next big quest in the area.

More progress today, as we cleared another big quest in the area. I think there is one left in Act 2.

Everyone is Levels 12-14 now, although Verse doesn't seem to be gaining levels quickly at all now. Which brings me to...

Magic is kicking butt for us, and conventional weapons aren't doing diddly. (I'm constantly getting the "this isn't working" or "time to switch weapons" comments, and lots of "1" damage attacks.) The special abilities work pretty well, and magic seems to work pretty well against even enemies with high dodge. But front line fighters with shields and heavy armor with high parry ratings are pretty much impenetrable without combos or special attacks, and magic does respectable damage. Not sure if I'm doing something wrong.

And ... done!

I cranked away this evening for a few more hours, then realized I was in Act 3 already, so I pushed on to the end.

I liked the ending more than the middle, as the story seemed to come back together into a coherent thread. I'll add some thoughts in a bit.

On the whole, mixed feelings about this one, but more positive than negative, and bonus points for ambition on the part of the developers.

Yeah, I always found magic to be far more effective than physical combat. Some of the artifact weapons you can find will offset that to some degree, but Verse just never did all *that* much damage compared to the mages. Sirin's semi-magic made her surprisingly strong, and she could mix it up pretty good on the front line, so I ended up preferring her pretty strongly to Verse.

Barik, of course, barely did any damage at all. He could be made strong enough to be somewhat useful with magic buffs, but on his own, he was a typical tank, at least the way I used him.

The game has lots of problems, but has a lot of good stuff, too. Like many (most?) Obsidian games, their reach exceeded their grasp, and the game sold so poorly that they abandoned it, and stopped fixing bugs. The Bastard's Wound is still a mess, years later.

Yet, for all that, I put a lot of hours into it, exploring all the various nooks and crannies. I loved the world they created. There's nothing wrong with their ability to tell a tale, even if their control over choice mechanics and overall gameplay wasn't up to the challenge they created for themselves.

Malor wrote:

Yeah, I always found magic to be far more effective than physical combat. Some of the artifact weapons you can find will offset that to some degree, but Verse just never did all *that* much damage compared to the mages. Sirin's semi-magic made her surprisingly strong, and she could mix it up pretty good on the front line, so I ended up preferring her pretty strongly to Verse.

Barik, of course, barely did any damage at all. He could be made strong enough to be somewhat useful with magic buffs, but on his own, he was a typical tank, at least the way I used him.

At the very end I was able to get Verse an artifact weapon, and that's when I finally saw her stop complaining about her weapons being ineffective. I think I got a good eight or nine artifacts in the game, and two thirds of them were two-handed weapons for which I had no use.

I started tossing skill points in Might for Barik, and that seemed to help some for this damage output. But good weapons in general were pretty hard to find. I probably should have spent more time/money on crafting weapons at our forge on the spire. I just never had enough money or materials to do that, but I probably would have if I had sold more of the stuff I was carrying around.

Malor wrote:

The game has lots of problems, but has a lot of good stuff, too. Like many (most?) Obsidian games, their reach exceeded their grasp, and the game sold so poorly that they abandoned it, and stopped fixing bugs. The Bastard's Wound is still a mess, years later.

There must be a bazillion different endings, but my ending was perfectly set up for a sequel. It almost felt unfinished, because there were big questions left half answered.

Malor wrote:

Yet, for all that, I put a lot of hours into it, exploring all the various nooks and crannies. I loved the world they created. There's nothing wrong with their ability to tell a tale, even if their control over choice mechanics and overall gameplay wasn't up to the challenge they created for themselves.

There are a lot of things I really enjoyed about the game. The crafted world and the relationships among the various groups and factions in particular was a strong point.

Toward the end I was curious how much of the game I had left, and took at peek at a couple of walkthroughs. They were next to totally useless because my ending and route through the game were so different. That's a remarkable achievement that you can make a game with so many viable pathways.

For me, the game was most enjoyable when I was working through some of the meatier quests. When the game was dancing between occasional story segments, combat, and light puzzling I really got dialed in.

Random thoughts on Tyranny...

My general ending (spoilers)

Spoiler:

Although I ended up "finishing the game with the Scarlet Chorus", I ended up killing all the archons in the game, including the Scarlet Chorus leader, Voices of Nerat. Voices was such an ass. Every time I sent someone to talk to him, he tortured and killed them. I was tempted several times to go the anarchist route and just attack him to break my alliance. I held off until the end because I didn't want the game to become endless combat.

For much of the game I was dissatisfied with the choices offered to me, so it felt good to rise up at the end and just stomp the crap out of Graven Ashe, Voices of Nerat, Tunon, and Bleden Mark.

Barik become semi-catatonic because of our actions fighting and killing Graven Ashe, his leader. Verse was a huge fan of mine, as was Lantry. Those were the three NPCs I ended up using throughout the game.

We finished the game at Levels 15/16, which seems very low compared to where Reddit threads say I would be (Level 20+). I don't have a clue how that worked out that way. Well, maybe it was because I didn't figure out the trainer system until the back half of the game, and you could crank up 1-2 levels every time you trained with someone. (This "train and level up" mechanic felt very odd, to be honest.) But I caught up on everyone's "points available" by the end of the game, did all the side quests I saw except one, and "cleared" all the maps we spent time on. So yeah, no idea what I missed with the levels.

Discussed this earlier, but combat felt ... semi-functional. I realize that I might have only half-understood it. Physical weaponry seemed underpowered and magic seemed functional. The only way I could fight effectively was to micro selecting the skills of my party in combat. Having Barik as a tank (who can't change armor) with a shield and one-handed weapon meant that all the heavy armor and two-handed weapons we found were pointless except to sell. Bonus point frustration: Ending multiple main quests and getting rewarded with 2-handed weapons. In retrospect, playing a two-handed tank and dropping Barik from the party might have changed the combat dynamics a lot and made loot and gear advancement more interesting.

The final battle against Graven Ashe took about an hour. Good lord, that was ... frustrating. We just couldn't do damage fast enough, and spent most of the time trying to buff and heal the characters he was damaging. But dying would have meant redoing the prequel battles, so I really didn't want to have to do the fight again.

I both enjoyed and got frustrated by the choice options in the game. it was greatly entertaining to realize that I could go any way I wanted to, to side with any faction or just go my own way, but there were a number of times where there just weren't options to do what I wanted. As someone who sided with the Scarlet Chorus, it was frustrating to save some faction leader in an hour long quest and then be given two options: kill them or send them to Voices of Nerat (who would just kill them). It felt disconnected.

Things I really liked...
- Things came together nicely in Act 3, and I was satisfied with what I could do and how things tied up.
- The main quests in Act 2. Taken as individual modules, these were the game's shining moments for me.

Total game time for me was just over 28 hours. I did pretty much everything and explored everywhere. (I think, still wondering about my low levels and if I just missed something.)

Overall... I enjoyed the game but only felt locked on about a third of the time. It just never fully connected with me. I loved the world, the factions, the characters, and Baldur's Gate-like maps. I loved that you could go in so many directions with game play but didn't like that many of these options felt hidden behind ambiguous choices in specific conversations. But the combat system felt more like work than fun (although I liked the spell creation system a lot). I'd also think that I'd enjoy a second playthrough better than the first, because that would drive home how differently the game can play out if you make different choices along the way.

The whole game felt like a great, ambitious idea that was 75% realized. 6/10.

So I've reached the first spire, clearly have an unbalanced party (I have no idea what I was trying to do with my fate binder but appear to have ended up with a second Barik) and using Verse as an archer and Lantry as my healer. I'm winning battles - slowly - but it doesn't seem to make a hell of a lot of sense. I've also not really got any lore heavy characers (apart from Lantry) which means I have't really explored spell making yet. I get the impression I should do something about that.

I'm also finding the Disfavoured / Scarlet Chorus stuff to be a little too binary. It needs a little more choice earlier on. One thing I am finding is that it making me role play in a way I've not really had the inclination to do in many of the RPGs we've played to be honest. I'm trying to be a fair but harsh judge - there to carry out Kyros's judgement in accordance with his laws as far as possible. It sort of means I'll listen to the Ventrian Guard (for example) but if they don't surrender, they're going to know about. I also

Spoiler:

judged the old man in the first village how had the forge bound Iron. he was hiding it, didn't declare it, I handed him over to the Disfavoured.

In that regard it's doing really well.

Yes, my first attempt I had two Verse's for the most part, so I just bailed and started over. But unless you are set on having Barik in your party, you can just continue on, as you'll have other NPC options before too long.

Yes, Lore is helpful both for spell creation and in-game dialog options.

Spoiler:

There is a lore trainer in the first Scarlet Chorus camp, but you might be past that now that you're at the first spire.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

I probably should have spent more time/money on crafting weapons at our forge on the spire. I just never had enough money or materials to do that, but I probably would have if I had sold more of the stuff I was carrying around.

Oh, yeah, you definitely wanted to be doing that. Weapon upgrades at the workbench are a big deal in Tyranny. You could kinda stick with Verse's starting weapons and just upgrade them as you went along, and she would stay reasonably effective. In effect, you'd gradually improve them up to iron-quality weapons. And there's lots of money in selling off gear, especially the heavy armor that nobody but your character can reasonably use.

There must be a bazillion different endings, but my ending was perfectly set up for a sequel. It almost felt unfinished, because there were big questions left half answered.

I'm sure they were setting up for a sequel, and this was another thing that irked people, because the story didn't really feel finished.

There are a lot of things I really enjoyed about the game. The crafted world and the relationships among the various groups and factions in particular was a strong point.

Toward the end I was curious how much of the game I had left, and took at peek at a couple of walkthroughs. They were next to totally useless because my ending and route through the game were so different. That's a remarkable achievement that you can make a game with so many viable pathways.

Tyranny is an extraordinarily wide game, one that genuinely respects and works with the choices you made. It begs to be played multiple times, just to see all it has to offer.

For me, the game was most enjoyable when I was working through some of the meatier quests. When the game was dancing between occasional story segments, combat, and light puzzling I really got dialed in.

When it was working, it worked well. But the Oldwalls were tedious, especially if you were in a playthrough that visited them three or more times. And not everything was obvious; you missing out on how important crafting upgrades are is a great example.

But, wow, the world is epic. The sense of place and history are awesome. One detail I liked was how the Tiers were Bronze-age, and Kyros' armies were Iron-age, and gradually switching over to iron weapons and armor was such a big upgrade. (Although, now that I think about it, it wouldn't make a lot of sense for the Fatebinder to be equipped with bronze at the game start.)

I think I've played through it four times, now, and I still saw new stuff on my most recent run.

Malor wrote:
Godzilla Blitz wrote:

I probably should have spent more time/money on crafting weapons at our forge on the spire. I just never had enough money or materials to do that, but I probably would have if I had sold more of the stuff I was carrying around.

Oh, yeah, you definitely wanted to be doing that. Weapon upgrades at the workbench are a big deal in Tyranny. You could kinda stick with Verse's starting weapons and just upgrade them as you went along, and she would stay reasonably effective. In effect, you'd gradually improve them up to iron-quality weapons. And there's lots of money in selling off gear, especially the heavy armor that nobody but your character can reasonably use.

Whoops! I did upgrade Barik's armor quite a bit, and some of the armor on everyone else. I was more focused on upgrading spells and lore. But yeah, that might explain why everyone was complaining about weapons not doing damage the whole time.

I kept expecting to find weapons and armor as loot that we could use, but only rarely was there anything helpful, and most of the upgrades were along the lines of a half-point of DPS or so. I should have been thinking of loot as cash, and using that cash to upgrade stuff at the spire. Lesson learned!

The fact that you could end up picking the blacksmith upgrade at the last spire, close to the end of the game, kind of has me scratching my head a bit. But maybe that's how the game is intended to be played. If you build the library and infirmary you can ramp up your magical strength, then you add the blacksmith to add melee, then you go in to Act 3 with enough firepower to make the boss battles more manageable. Or vice versa.

Malor wrote:

When it was working, it worked well. But the Oldwalls were tedious, especially if you were in a playthrough that visited them three or more times. And not everything was obvious; you missing out on how important crafting upgrades are is a great example.

I do feel like Tyranny is a game that teaches you things just after you needed to know them. "Oh, that's what I should have done." Or "Oh, that's how I could have played the rebellion side."

I can totally understand how the game could really shine on a second playthrough. I feel like I now understand enough that the combat would be much smoother, and I could make sure I make the right choices to be able to play the rebel side. (They are very specific, from what I understand. So even with the best intentions to play as a rebel, you can miss the opportunity.)

FWIW, out of four-ish runs, it was only this last one where I actually managed to end up a Rebel, and I still had to check the Wiki and go back about two hours to undo a wrong decision. It is really hard to find that path, even if you know it's there.

It doesn't actually play that much differently, although at least the leaders aren't psychopaths. You're still doing a lot of the same stuff, but for better reasons, usually.

edit: also, keeping Barik is quite tricky on that path. He hates your guts and desperately wants to abandon you.

I think, of my four total runs, I liked the Anarchist version the best.... screw everyone, they're all jerks, take over yourself.

Yes, I looked up the Brotherhood path to figure out how to follow it in my recent game, and realized that it started very early on in the game and looked like it involved very specific choices over a number of dialog trees. I was already well past that point so I decided to just drive on.

Malor wrote:

I think, of my four total runs, I liked the Anarchist version the best.... screw everyone, they're all jerks, take over yourself.

Even though I went Scarlet Chorus, I did get the achievement for killing all the archons, so that felt similar in many ways. It felt sooo good to take down Voices of Nerat.

I have a feeling that when I restart Tyranny, this'll be my path too. I had sided with the Chorus at the end of Act 1 because, in that final meeting before the assault, Graven Ashe was being a real jerk. He & his team had not been treating the Chorus as an equal partner, and as Tunon (& Kyros)'s voice in the camp, I couldn't let that stand. But this was more a reaction against Ashe than a vote in favor of the Voices; they & I probably will clash.

^That's exactly what I did as well. It was definitely what I thought at the time to be the lesser of two evils. In retrospect, I'm not sure.

I can say I think that our last two CRPG Club choices have the most appeal for me for replays out of the the 14 games that we've selected so far.

I liked Tyranny, but I think I'd like a second game of it more than the first. I'm intrigued to try the Rebel path, and apply more of what I've learned about the combat system in a game. And I bet a second play through would be under 25 hours too, which is pretty reasonable for an RPG.

Well I'm still playing through this and now I have 2 spires, although I clearly did this out of sequence with the somewhat linear path the game is sort of expecting you to follow. That's OK now I've got my head around it, but you do sort of wonder what they were thinking. I've also had another one of those events where what I wanted to happen (and clearly, there is no reason in game why it shouldn't be an option) just wasn't actually one of the options available. So I had to work out what the least worst option was and boy, I did not like it at all.

There is so much stuff here that if they had allowed it into Pillars 2, would have made Pillars 2 an immeasurably better game though. I love how magic works (when I remember to learn the various elements) and the combo abilities as well. Happy just flowing through it for now, be interesting to see where it ends up

Sorbicol wrote:

Well I'm still playing through this and now I have 2 spires, although I clearly did this out of sequence with the somewhat linear path the game is sort of expecting you to follow. That's OK now I've got my head around it, but you do sort of wonder what they were thinking. I've also had another one of those events where what I wanted to happen (and clearly, there is no reason in game why it shouldn't be an option) just wasn't actually one of the options available. So I had to work out what the least worst option was and boy, I did not like it at all.

Haha. I think I know exactly what you did because I did the same things. And it happens more times than that.

You guys might find, if you exchange more info via spoiler text, that you aren't talking about the same area. The 'choosing the least awful option' thing happens more often than in most games.

The "you want me to do what?" effect happens downright often.

Malor wrote:

You guys might find, if you exchange more info via spoiler text, that you aren't talking about the same area. The 'choosing the least awful option' thing happens more often than in most games.

The "you want me to do what?" effect happens downright often.

I sort of agree and disagree with that. Tyranny seems to take it to extremes though

Spoiler:

I also found myself allied with the Chorus at the end of the first act. After exploring and unlocking the Sunspire in Lethian’s Crossing (clearly before the game was expecting me to) I eventually had the event where the Bronze brotherhood attacks and steals the weird mask thing. Before I left I had the conversation with the Merchant Spy about delivering the Bronze Brother leader and the Forge-Bound leader to the Voices of Nerat.

When I got to the end of that event chain, I did deliver the Brotherhood leader to the chorus to take to Nerat. I didn’t want to deliver the Forge leader as I figured she’d be more useful to let go, even if it did piss off Nerat.

However, the only choices the game gave me was to give her up or kill her. I couldn’t just let her go. That’s just dumb. And illogical. There’s nothing in the slightly throw away conversation with the merchant spy to tell you that it’s a ‘do it or die’ situation, which considering the lengths you’ve gone to to rescue her, makes not sense. At all. In the end I gave her up as there’s no point pissing off both the Forge-Bound and Nerat

I agree with you, Malor, for sure. Yet given what Sorbicol said and where he was in the story, the ordering of events hint made me think, "Oh, I wonder if he made the same decision I did. If he did that, I bet he hit the same frustration I had."

Spoiler:

And yep, they were the same things.

I think almost anything more I add would spoil stuff for you, Sorbicol. But it's probably safe to share that by the end of the adventure I felt like things worked out well enough that I was okay with everything from a moral aspect of role-playing my character.

But yet, I got frustrated with my only two options regarding the Forge Leader for exactly the same reasons you mention. I was like, "Whaaa? That makes no sense at all."

I am really struggling to get through this game.

It’s got nothing to do with the mechanics or story, both of which I think are pretty good. The magic system is very rough around the edges but it’s a system that - with some refinement - could really become something extremely interesting to see implemented in a more complex and involving game.

It’s just every time I fire it up I have a massive ‘urgh. I can’t be bothered with this’ moment and go and play something else.

Right. Committed myself to this last night and now I’m in the Bastards Wound. Is it worth playing the DLCs for this given I keep leaving the game and not going back to it? Does anyone have an opinion?

Sorbicol wrote:

Right. Committed myself to this last night and now I’m in the Bastards Wound. Is it worth playing the DLCs for this given I keep leaving the game and not going back to it? Does anyone have an opinion?

Not really, no. It's just more of the same.

I thought Bastard's Wound was decent, but as Math said it's just more of the same, with a longer-than normal foray into the Oldwalls.

Sorbicol wrote:

Right. Committed myself to this last night and now I’m in the Bastards Wound. Is it worth playing the DLCs for this given I keep leaving the game and not going back to it? Does anyone have an opinion?

Good luck! I didn't use the DLC. The Steam reviews mention its buggy state, but I think the consensus here was that those bugs would arise if you tried to add the DLC to a game already underway. Bugs aside, I haven't heard anyone say the DLC is a must, or awesome. I don't think you'd be missing anything if you pass on it.

Now I’m there I’ll probably play it. It’s been part of the version I got from the free Epic giveaway so might as well if it’s there. Fingers crossed it’s not too buggy.

There is a very good game in here somewhere. I just need to try and find it.

Sorbicol wrote:

Now I’m there I’ll probably play it. It’s been part of the version I got from the free Epic giveaway so might as well if it’s there. Fingers crossed it’s not too buggy.

There is a very good game in here somewhere. I just need to try and find it.

I definitely enjoyed my game, but I think I would have abandoned it if it were a 50- to 60-hour game. The fact that it was a shorter game kept me going a few times. It's really not long at all. I'm slower than average and it was well under 30 hours.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

I definitely enjoyed my game, but I think I would have abandoned it if it were a 50- to 60-hour game. The fact that it was a shorter game kept me going a few times. It's really not long at all. I'm slower than average and it was well under 30 hours.

I think that's going to be my epitaph for this game, "somewhere there's a good game here, but it never gets the time to show up".

I think the opinion on this group of Pillars of Eternity 2 as the next game would be very interesting in some respects.

Yeah, you've guess it, I'm plugging through The Bastards Wound. And walking into fights I'm struggling to win all of a sudden.

I'm finding the companion loyalty stuff now to be really odd. Barik hates me, but doesn't seem to want to leave my side, Lantry just..... doesn't care? no matter what I do with him he never approves or disapproves. It's really odd. At least Verse likes me, although I think she's a homicidal crazy woman.

From the sounds of it, I took a very similar approach. Have you opened up the dialogs by clicking on your followers' icons in the lower left corners? If I recall correctly, doing so opened up some conversation with each character about their backstories and whatnot. In one of those, Barik "explains" how it is that he would follow me yet still hate me for making him do so.

And yeah, having Verse always be so excited about what I was doing wasn't really giving me the moral support I was looking for.

Great to hear that you're making progress!