Okay, I’m officially done bothering with Pyre’s nonsense. I’m not going to force myself to continue pushing into a game so singularly devoted to repetitive artsy pointlessness. Where exactly is the game here? The stupid minigames with awkward controls? Choosing one path over another, or one activity of three at stops for imperceptible stat gains that only appear to affect the comically easy e-sport stuff? Clicking over and over again to get through the dialogue that never shuts the hell up and rambles on about absolutely nothing for no obvious reason? As much as I enjoyed Bastion and loved Transistor, Pyre is a grating mess that only makes me hate it progressively more, and the fact that it’s already groan-inducingly repetitive just a few hours in is enough to destroy my interest in seeing the rest of the game.
But hey, I found something I liked
The shop menu’s music has a bass and drums-only version in addition to the normal variant that includes other instruments, and it switches between the two depending on whether you’re in the menu or in a submenu that shows you your characters. This is hardly the only game that does this, with titles as far back as the 2004 version of Sid Meier’s Pirates having parallel tracks that are switched between depending on where you are, but it’s a fun little touch I’ve really come to appreciate.
Everything else has become worse
Picture this: the characters have their little wagon fitted for sea travel, and Ed Sheeran gets seasick and can’t participate in the upcoming rite. This is a problem because my agency and choice as far as (what can only generously be considered) the gameplay is concerned keeps being compromised for arbitrary story reasons. Of course, I don’t use Ed Sheeran, so his absence affected nothing in this case, but it’d have no doubt only been a matter of time until I was randomly kneecapped for reasons entirely outside of my control. That’s annoying. You know what else is annoying? A character acting like Ed Sheeran’s dead as soon as the rite is over. This is a long, meandering dialogue exchange that ultimately serves no purpose since he turns out to be totally fine. Just an annoying waste of time and text.
It occurs to me that Supergiant hasn’t ever really had to do text exchanges like this before. Their previous games were much more concise, with much of the dialogue being spoken and undoubtedly limited by the cost of voice acting, which probably forced lines to be more substantive. Here, it feels like dialogue is a constant distraction; the little animal guy companion was acting all serious at one point and it turned out he was just self-conscious about his mustache. This is inane, and that’s not good considering that the terrible e-sport sections last maybe 1-2 minutes at max and the rest of the game consists mostly of mind-numbingly pointless fluff like this.
There was one minigame where I had to protect my pyre even though we were outside of a rite. I’m assuming that gets explained later on, but whatever. The point is that there were a bunch of enemy things rushing it, and suddenly I the game felt like a really awkward shooter. And then I started having trouble using the shooting attack thing as they were swarming, and I don’t know if it was because it was some kind of tutorial thing forcing it (kiiiiiiind of too busy protecting this thing to be reading random text popping up telling me how you want me to be doing it, thanks) or if the game was as disappointed in itself as I was and clocked out before I did.
The point where I quit was a pointless minigame—not that there’s any other type here—where I had to walk around and pop some bubbles or something. I was already annoyed with what a huge waste of time the game had been up to that point, but then I had to use the character to banish some other characters by attacking them. That went fine at first, though I can’t stress how incredibly awkward I find the controls in general, but when I could swear that I pressed the button to attack and the enemy somehow hit me before it registered, I was done. The game’s draw is apparently that it goes on no matter how badly you fail or something (not sure if that’s entirely accurate because I don’t follow hype or PR), but the autosaves mean that you can’t go back and fix anything annoying that happens like that. Not without uninstalling the confused mess of a game entirely and going on with your life, at least, which is obviously the option I chose. Doing so felt great. I recommend it.
I’ll probably give this a mini-review, though
There don’t seem to be many critics out there with a critical opinion of the game. I don’t like reviewing games that I’ve quit and most of the time I’ll just move on without writing a single word about them, but I find Pyre to be such a uniquely confused, repetitive mess of uninspired ideas that I feel the need to add my voice as a warning for anyone like me out there bound to be similarly underwhelmed by it.
Critics gotta crit.