Pyre is the third game from Supergiant Games, a studio that's given us Bastion and Transistor in the past, and this new game feels unique and different, yet familiar at the same time - a testament to Supergiant's skill when it comes to world building and narrative. Perhaps the narrator and the audio track are what really makes Pyre unmistakable as a Supergiant production. There's just a particular atmosphere and mood to the game that is quite unique to this developer. All in all it's very inviting and the beginnings of the game certainly fill us with curiosity. This unknown purgatory is a place that's shrouded in mystery, so much so that the characters, or exiles as they're called, that make up your group are wearing masks when you first meet them.
"We always want to make these rich game worlds that are filled with mystery and with questions and our creative director Greg [Kasavin] who works on this game I think has done an amazing job at creating a new world here," says studio director Amir Rao. "[The world] has a lot of lore you can dive into if you if you're interested in figuring out more about this world and the characters in it."
Clearly Pyre offers a unique world, a feel, and a look unlike anything else you've played, with the exception of maybe Bastion and Transistor, but Supergiant Games aren't content with that. They also want the mechanics to stand out, and while it would make a ton of sense with a turn-based combat system or perhaps a real-time one featuring ability cooldowns, Pyre offers something completely different, with combat taking the shape of a sport, a miniature version of American football if you will, where the objective is to move an orb into the opposing team's goal zone (or pyre as it is called).
There are various map layouts with obstacles that will both be hindrance and that will aid you as you'll want to target and take out opponents (hitting a player that carries the ball with an attack, temporarilly removes them from the court), and avoid them doing the same to you. You can only move one player at a time during this, though, so it's very tactical affair where you position your players for offensive and defensive tasks.
"People say it has some sports elements, but we really look at it like our battle system," says Rao. "It's how do you resolve these mystical competitions by positioning your guys right and using skill-based shots, and casting, and throwing to finally extinguish the rival pyre."
Your team of characters has various abilities and traits, and this also reflects in how many points you get by scoring with them. The fastest player on your team may be the easiest to score with, but you won't get as many points as you would were you to score with your larger, slower, tank-like character. You also have the tactical choice of trying to throw the orb into the goal zone or to play it safe and run into it. The 'matches' are played three on three and there's the twist that the player that scores is banished for the next round, meaning there's a built-in rubberband effect that player skill can easily overcome.