ashaquick

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So, I finally completed Tyranny. Once upon a time this would have happened within a few days of me getting my hands on the game, but life now dictates that even a short-ish RPG like Tyranny takes me a few months. Anyway, it's done, and here is what I think.

1. This is a genuinely excellent game, which innovates RPG systems in a way that I think are truly valuable to the genre. My opinion on skill-based leveling rather than XP-based leveling has for a long time being "Good in theory, grindy and tedious in execution", but then Tyranny came along and proved to me that it wasn't only doable, but preferable to handle leveling that way.

2. That said, I think the skills in Tyranny need some serious iteration, simply because it wound up being that a handful of them were really important, and the rest not so much. Maybe just something the delineates a few "core" skills from less important sub-skills.

3. The sheer number of abilities you gain over the course of the game was both overwhelming and eventually, filled with redundancies. I think this too could be streamlined by taking the spell-crafting system and applying it to all the abilities. Learn various combat techniques and stances and combine them into attacks, just as you combine sigils into spells.

4. In fact, I think perhaps levels could be removed altogether. Let the core skills dictate which sigils, combat techniques, stances, warcries, whatever you can learn. Using abilities increases the lesser skills, and increasing the lesser skills repeatedly will eventually lead to an increase in one of the core skills.
This does remove the fun of advancing through an ability tree, but I think this could be implemented in other ways. Perhaps change the trainers so that they can unlock new branches of the tree when your core skills are high enough.
(This is not to say I thought the system was bad - I thought it was great! - it's just that I felt like it was a first pass at a whole new way of handling character progression in video game RPGs, I really would like to see it taken a whole lot further.)

5. Game mechanics aside, the narrative structure of this game was incredible. Has any other RPG ever allowed you to play through a game in such thoroughly different ways? I wasn't even aware that there was a third (and fourth?) way to play through the game until I read about it online - which forced a restart. I mean, each area felt intimate a deep, which is probably how I prefer my RPG worlds, rather than massive but shallow, and yet I knew while playing it that it must be possible to play the same area from an entirely different perspective and yet still get the same depth. It was truly, genuinely impressive.

6. However, I must admit that I wasn't actually that enthralled by the world of Tyranny. Before playing the game, I was really enthused about the non-traditional setting. A pre-medieval world in which you play one of the bad guys sounded really appealing, after so very many samey RPGs with humans and elves and dwarves and medieval settings. But the actual game failed to really grab me. I won't be particularly upset if this is just a one-off, and doesn't turn into a franchise. But I obviously would love to see it's systems carried over into other settings. I'd be more than happy to see a cyberpunk RPG from Obsidian, or a steampunk one, or a Lovecraftian Western one, etc, etc.

7. That's not to say that I don't think Tyranny has franchise potential. The world feels like it has potential. I just need to see more of it, maybe. I'd definitely play a sequel, or DLC.
 
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yonderTheGreat

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So, I finally completed Tyranny. Once upon a time this would have happened within a few days of me getting my hands on the game, but life now dictates that even a short-ish RPG like Tyranny takes me a few months. Anyway, it's done, and here is what I think.

1. This is a genuinely excellent game, which innovates RPG systems in a way that I think are truly valuable to the genre. My opinion on skill-based leveling rather than XP-based leveling has for a long time being "Good in theory, grindy and tedious in execution", but then Tyranny came along and proved to me that it wasn't only doable, but preferable to handle leveling that way.

Completely agree. It's definitely not perfect, but it is indeed superb.

2. That said, I think the skills in Tyranny need some serious iteration, simply because it wound up being that a handful of them were really important, and the rest not so much. Maybe just something the delineates a few "core" skills from less important sub-skills.

I'm curious which skills you think are the most important ones. Interestingly, most people seem to agree that some skills are more important than others, but they disagree on which skills. To me, this means the game is pretty well balanced.

3. The sheer number of abilities you gain over the course of the game was both overwhelming and eventually, filled with redundancies. I think this too could be streamlined by taking the spell-crafting system and applying it to all the abilities. Learn various combat techniques and stances and combine them into attacks, just as you combine sigils into spells.

This is one reason I almost always prefer Passive skills over abilities when leveling. My quickbar for most of my characters is about four combat abilities, my preferred Artifact/Reputation Skill at that moment, and the rest spells (and of course one for common potions). At first I hated that clicking on, for example, Reputation Skills was a toggle and not a menu that would go away when you chose one, but I now PREFER the system. It makes juggling a full dozen or so spells MUCH more doable.

5. Game mechanics aside, the narrative structure of this game was incredible. Has any other RPG ever allowed you to play through a game in such thoroughly different ways? I wasn't even aware that there was a third (and fourth?) way to play through the game until I read about it online - which forced a restart. I mean, each area felt intimate a deep, which is probably how I prefer my RPG worlds, rather than massive but shallow, and yet I knew while playing it that it must be possible to play the same area from an entirely different perspective and yet still get the same depth. It was truly, genuinely impressive.

There are some, but this is definitely one of the best. Have you tried the Gothic series? I'd start out with either 2 or 3. Warning... the combat in 3 is TERRIBLE, but manageable once you figure it out. Send me a PM if you want to discuss it. Gothic is a highly flawed but amazing lil gem of an RPG.

6. However, I must admit that I wasn't actually that enthralled by the world of Tyranny. Before playing the game, I was really enthused about the non-traditional setting. A pre-medieval world in which you play one of the bad guys sounded really appealing, after so very many samey RPGs with humans and elves and dwarves and medieval settings. But the actual game failed to really grab me. I won't be particularly upset if this is just a one-off, and doesn't turn into a franchise. But I obviously would love to see it's systems carried over into other settings. I'd be more than happy to see a cyberpunk RPG from Obsidian, or a steampunk one, or a Lovecraftian Western one, etc, etc.

7. That's not to say that I don't think Tyranny has franchise potential. The world feels like it has potential. I just need to see more of it, maybe. I'd definitely play a sequel, or DLC.

Oddly, I found the lore of the world to be utterly amazing. It's my favorite part. The Mage specialities (Iron, Earth, Sage, etc) were intriguing and the concept of the two main armies was so deep with personality that I truly enjoyed discovering more as I kept playing. I'd dig cyber/steam-punk or Lovecraftian too tho, naturally.

Great response. Well-written and in-depth. I wish more feedback was like your's.
 

ashaquick

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Dec 13, 2016
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This is an absurdly late reply. I was actually wondering what I'd written about Tyranny at the time that I completed it, and searched for my own post. It was only then that I saw this response.

I'm curious which skills you think are the most important ones. Interestingly, most people seem to agree that some skills are more important than others, but they disagree on which skills. To me, this means the game is pretty well balanced.

It's now been a bit too long since I played it to give you an accurate answer, sorry. But from memory, this had less to do with combat than with dialogue options and other interactions. Lore and Athletics seemed vastly more useful than the other skills in that sense. By ensuring that I leveled those skills up at every opportunity, all possible narrative paths in the game were always open to me. The other skills didn't really play a part outside of combat.

There are some, but this is definitely one of the best. Have you tried the Gothic series? I'd start out with either 2 or 3. Warning... the combat in 3 is TERRIBLE, but manageable once you figure it out. Send me a PM if you want to discuss it. Gothic is a highly flawed but amazing lil gem of an RPG.

Unfortunately, I'm old and have very little spare time these days. I might still feel like an irresponsible teenager inside the confines of my own skull, but on the outside I'm an adult with a full time job and two small children to look after. It means I can't just play every game that takes my fancy. Gone are the days when I could spend 8-10 hours a day, every day, playing video games. I miss those days. I backed both Pillars of Eterntiy and Torment: Tides of Numenera back when I was still working part time and didn't have any children. I have yet to play either game, because I've been prioritizing shorter games that I might actually be able to finish. I played Tyranny precisely because it was an old-school RPG that was billed as being a much shorter game than PoE. That felt like a gift, and would kill for more shorter RPGs like it. Even so, it still took me about two months to complete.

Sorry, that turned into a lament for my lost free time. The shorter version is: Thanks for the rec! I'll put it on the list of stuff to play when I retire.

Oddly, I found the lore of the world to be utterly amazing. It's my favorite part. The Mage specialities (Iron, Earth, Sage, etc) were intriguing and the concept of the two main armies was so deep with personality that I truly enjoyed discovering more as I kept playing. I'd dig cyber/steam-punk or Lovecraftian too tho, naturally.

The lore definitely has potential. I say that the world failed to really grab me, but really, as a first taste, it was fine. I'd be more than happy to delve deeper in future installments. I haven't gotten around to playing the expansion yet, partly because of time issues, and partly because I heard bad things about it. I was kinda holding out for a another expansion, or even the announcement of a sequel, before going back to the Tiers.
 

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This is an absurdly late reply. I was actually wondering what I'd written about Tyranny at the time that I completed it, and searched for my own post. It was only then that I saw this response.

Don't know about the rules, but I'm always on board for a reply when it has actual content like yours!

It's now been a bit too long since I played it to give you an accurate answer, sorry. But from memory, this had less to do with combat than with dialogue options and other interactions. Lore and Athletics seemed vastly more useful than the other skills in that sense. By ensuring that I leveled those skills up at every opportunity, all possible narrative paths in the game were always open to me. The other skills didn't really play a part outside of combat.

Again, I consider that balanced. I've known FAR too many people that are in the "I just want to fight my way through the normal main quest" crowd. Now, while I'm sure it's not as good as, say, the original Torment, I have vague memories of branches opening up with stuff other than Lore and Athletics. In terms of which stat gives you the most branches, I honestly feel it *should* be Lore, thought it seems weird that Athletics is up there and other ones aren't. I really don't know though because I don't have the numbers.

Unfortunately, I'm old and have very little spare time these days. I might still feel like an irresponsible teenager inside the confines of my own skull, but on the outside I'm an adult with a full time job and two small children to look after. It means I can't just play every game that takes my fancy. Gone are the days when I could spend 8-10 hours a day, every day, playing video games. I miss those days. I backed both Pillars of Eterntiy and Torment: Tides of Numenera back when I was still working part time and didn't have any children. I have yet to play either game, because I've been prioritizing shorter games that I might actually be able to finish. I played Tyranny precisely because it was an old-school RPG that was billed as being a much shorter game than PoE. That felt like a gift, and would kill for more shorter RPGs like it. Even so, it still took me about two months to complete.

Sorry, that turned into a lament for my lost free time. The shorter version is: Thanks for the rec! I'll put it on the list of stuff to play when I retire.

LOL... "too many games and not enough time" is a more and more common thing these days. Send me a PM if you like. I'm disabled and when I'm not horribly sick I have PLENTY of time to play games, so I can probably give you recommendations that would fit your preferred gaming style!
 

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The game's great I just wish there was more of it. More expansions, content, more fights, larger dungeons and stuff. There's not many places to make use of your super high level party that's decked out fully with artifacts. Usually I get skills that I wont ever need to use just because there's nobody that can last long enough against my party for me to be able to use it. So a very hard zone would be great.
 

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Honestly I'm not that concerned about the end-game stuff, but that's likely because I've been trained by MMOs to have a hatred of power gamers and their obsession with "end-game content"... I prefer the ride TO the end. But I won't deny that there's a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE drop-off in this game that really caught me off-guard. I haven't played it, for a variety of reasons, but the end-game content in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War *sounds* like the way to do it. You've built the empire, now maintain it endlessly.

Maybe you have x # of years and you get a score based on your performance. Obviously it would become a management game and no longer and RPG, but it would still be potential fun.

I dunno, just shootin here. I don't deny that I too wish there was more of it.

Can you give some examples of RPGs that you enjoyed the end-game content of that might be a great example for Tyranny to follow?
 

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Honestly I'm not that concerned about the end-game stuff, but that's likely because I've been trained by MMOs to have a hatred of power gamers and their obsession with "end-game content"... I prefer the ride TO the end. But I won't deny that there's a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE drop-off in this game that really caught me off-guard. I haven't played it, for a variety of reasons, but the end-game content in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War *sounds* like the way to do it. You've built the empire, now maintain it endlessly.

Maybe you have x # of years and you get a score based on your performance. Obviously it would become a management game and no longer and RPG, but it would still be potential fun.

I dunno, just shootin here. I don't deny that I too wish there was more of it.

Can you give some examples of RPGs that you enjoyed the end-game content of that might be a great example for Tyranny to follow?

Its not as much about end-game content as you have to have a definite end to every RPG but high level challenging content. For example if you take Witcher 3 you have incredibly high level archgriffins around the world that you can hunt before you finish the main storyline completely, and tons of places to explore and find treasure and enemies in. And they even introduced a DLC to have an epilogue to the whole story, which is great.
Or if you take a game like Fallout New Vegas where there's a humongous amount of side-content to do before you actually finish the game, hell most people dont even go on the main quest until they are already almost max level. Same for games like Skyrim. You have stuff to do, dangerous enemies to hunt. In Fallout New Vegas you got Legendary versions of the most dangerous enemy types in certain locations that are unique and super powerful and have some good loot. Also there's unique sets of weapons/armor that you can hunt down. Tyranny has side missions but not that many and it hasn't got enough combat zones. I think the issue stems from the way the gameplay is viewed, in a combat game like Witcher or a shooter like Fallout the devs trust that the core gameplay loop is fun and keeps the people going, but in an old school rpg like Tyranny they trust in the story to keep the person going but they don't trust as much in the combat.

I found Pillars of Eternity to have kind of the same issue, I ventured early in the game into very dangerous zones to get a challenging fight then found that I'd have had to go there many levels later anyways and I basically just had empty places to visit afterwards which was boring. An enemy respawn mechanic could help with that too but that might not be the best idea as it can screw with the game a bit. If only enabled for certain areas that could work in theory but I'd have to test it to be certain.

Anyways, I think there should just be a zone where you can just fight because you enjoy the gameplay, it doesn't need to have too much work put into it, just give us a long corridor/arena with lots of enemies that are strong and some interesting loot and maybe a way to create artefacts to match our own characters.