Pyre, bearing a price tag of just $19.99 on Steam, is the heavily underappreciated sports-RPG fusion title from tried-and-tested Supergiant Games studio. It’s a bizarre mash-up of point-and-click dialogue with heart-pounding sports action, complemented throughout with jaw-droppingly beautiful art and delectable writing. It’s a petite masterpiece that the initiated few adore, and the uninitiated many ignore.
Primary gameplay is similar to many real-life sports games you’ll already be familiar with — think, perhaps, of a combination of capture the flag and dodgeball. A ball spawns in the middle of the arena every round, and the goal is to simply snag the ball and launch yourself into your challengers’ ‘pyre’ before they do the same to you. Each team is made up of three players, and those players have different abilities that aid them on the field.
Each player also has an ‘aura,’ which can be used to zap an enemy player into banishment — a short time-out, if you will. Furthermore, only one of your players can be moving on the field at a time, which creates a dynamic playstyle for rapid passing and consequent enemy-bashing. A wide range of characters you’ll accrue throughout your journey in Pyre lends a customizable nature to your strategy in the arena, although you will be forced to play certain characters at certain points to satisfy the plot.
Fortunately, you’ll be ready to do just about anything to satisfy the plot, because the art, sound, and character designs are so wickedly good that you won’t be able to stop yourself from playing. Even if you hate the sports sequences, you can’t deny the magnitude they have regarding your total Pyre experience, as their importance is woven so masterfully into the storyline.
Whether Pyre is a sports title masquerading as an RPG or an RPG masquerading as a sports title is debatable in the highest degree. Regardless, it’s a lush indie that oozes with care and quality, no matter your genre preference. It’s worth its minuscule price tag and more, and it will undoubtedly weather well the relentless beat of time. At launch and in 10 years, Pyre will still be a fascinating entry that pushes the envelope for genre-fusion done well.