Gaming

Pyre review: A slam dunk in story and splendor

Published

on

Sports ignite people. We map stories to players’ careers. We label rival athletes facing off as heroes and villains. We cry when the home team loses a deciding playoff match. We rejoice when they finally win championship gold.

Pyre sets out to spark that real human passion in its fantastical basketball/visual novel combo.


Entrancing aesthetics

Supergiant Games, the creative studio behind Pyre, is known for its sensuous, painterly art direction. The developers do not disappoint, as one look at the screenshots should make clear. Vibrant blues and reds blend in soft brush strokes and end in thick lines in the lovingly detailed player portraits. Neon greens, yellows, and purples contrast strikingly to form surreal panoramic landscapes littered with titanic alien skeletal remains.

The character designs feel familiar yet fresh; towering horned demons and alluring harpies get mixed in with armored worm-knights and small, scrappy dog men. These creatures spring to life like in classic hand-drawn Western animation, their frames moving with the conviction of the weight they carry. Tiny imps dart about manically, savages soar with wild grace, and the sentient trees lumber as if they own the earth.

These animations playing out in the Rites, which is what Pyre formally calls its magical 3v3 sport, is a dazzling display of balletic athletics.

Darren Korb’s zydeco-electronica fusion soundtrack ramps up the tension in every contest, brings things down to a wistful melancholic chill on the road in between matches, and rouses the spirits with folksy ballads alongside soulful vocal talent Ashley Barrett.

Fantasy basketball for freedom

In-universe, you are the Reader. You have been exiled to the Downside, a desolate no man’s land, for the crime of literacy. Reading is strictly forbidden in the Commonwealth, the nation where you came from. The only way back to civilization is through winning the Rites, as the purity of performance in this divine tradition pardons victors of all their sins.

In the Rites, two teams of three players fight over control of a celestial orb, with the goal of dousing the opposing force’s pyre. This is accomplished by plunging the orb into the pyre repeatedly until its flames are snuffed. Points signify the strength of the pyre, dwindling every time the orb is thrown into it. Once the points are reduced to zero, the match ends.

As the Reader, you act as coach to the Nightwings, once hailed as the ultimate test for other teams to prove their worth, but have now just returned as a ragtag band of misfits, eager as any of the exiles to earn freedom.

Increasing complexity in competition

In-game, you take direct control of the Nightwings, maneuvering one player at a time. The mechanics are easy to understand upfront for a somewhat novel take on basketball, and the control scheme feels natural given the one-player limitation. However, the variations in character abilities, statistics, and equippable items make matches more intricate and even overwhelming when the difficulty spikes.

You might find yourself cruising through the early battles, as the AI players are content to watch you zip across the field, sail over their heads, and slam dunk that orb into their pyre. I certainly did, especially with immediate access to the speedier characters that can run past enemies with ease. It didn’t take too long for me to start experiencing more intense competition, though, eventually resulting in losses where my opponents choked my offense and danced all over my defense.

And this is where the unique beauty of Pyre shines through.

There is no game over

Win or lose in the Rites, the plot keeps moving. Remember that everyone in the Downside is an exile and yearns for liberty, too. So when your adversaries triumph, their own personal narratives advance in step with the Nightwings’ journey. And while a majority of the teams you face are headed by unrepentant evildoers, there are a couple of genuinely good people also vying for liberation.

When you learn how the aged cur Dalbert Oldheart was unfairly banished from the Commonwealth, losing doesn’t sound so bad if this kind old critter goes free. You can be victorious next time, and without a guilty conscience, dunk on Witch Udmildhe and her bog crones who wish to unleash the malevolent Yslach Astral-Born on the world.

Not that winning doesn’t come with its own price either. When you win and let a team member go back to the Commonwealth, you let that team member go for good. In addition, you can only choose from the three characters you’ve used in matches the most. This means you’re constantly losing the players you’re most accustomed to when you keep winning.

MVPs, one and all

Thankfully, every individual you recruit into the Nightwings is a standout, both in how they play in the Rites and how their own story arcs develop and overlap with the rest of the colorful cast. Pamitha, the sassy harpy, cuts across the field with winged fury, but relents at the immediate sight of her sister out of guilt. The pale white, blue-eyed blonde demon Jodariel cuts an imposing figure with her steely stare and twisted horns, and she commands the court with her presence. Yet, past her stoicism lies warm, motherly instincts.

Pyre introduces such outcasts with complicated backgrounds at a reasonably rapid clip, and when you’ve assembled the entire crew, revelations are dropped at an even pace to keep you driving forward to see where the plot goes.

And before I forget, most of the interactions with the characters and the world at large is through the visual novel format of still portraits and lots of text interspersed with choices. Voice acting (save for one particular role which has to be heard to be believed) is limited to mumblings in a made-up language. It’s charming in how distinct the delivery is, and I never noticed a single canned soundbite.

Consuming, fiery storytelling

Yet this static presentation never left me bored or buttoning through dialogue. I basically marathoned 10 hours on my first session, and reached the very end on my second five-hour sitdown with the game. Despite the archetypes that make up the cast, the authenticity in characterization made me love each of the Nightwings.

I laughed at Rukey Greentail’s boasts landing his furry tail in hot water. I was in awe of Sir Gilman’s boisterous determination. I pondered on Volfred Sandalwood’s notions of true independence. I was gutted over Hedwyn’s broken promise. I agonized over every choice as to which of them I would anoint for freedom.

I will be replaying Pyre. I want to learn more about those I let go early, fight even harder, and just make better decisions to see how all the Nightwings deal with the burden of losing comrades and gaining liberty in a land of oppression. I will cast myself once more into the fires of competition for their sake, because Pyre made me believe their bonds are worth burning for.

SEE ALSO: 7 must-play re-released video games in HD

[irp posts=”16566" name=”7 must-play re-released video games in HD”]

Gaming

Razer holds first ever SEA Games bootcamp for esports teams

Held in partnership with one of the best eSports teams in the world

Published

on

Image from fb.com/razer

Preparations for the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games are underway, especially with eSports now added to the competition. Razer, the official eSports partner for the SEA Games has an idea on how to make preparations more interesting. The global gaming lifestyle brand wants to bring esports teams from all participating countries to train them by learning from the best players in the world.

Razer officially rolls out the Razer SEA Games eSports Bootcamp, a two-day training camp for eSports teams participating in the Dota 2 tournament for the SEA Games. The bootcamp will feature a series of mentorship sessions and practice games for all the competing teams from Singapore (Team X) , Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia (PG.Barracx), and the Philippines (Sibol). With the inclusion of eSports in this year’s SEA Games, Razer’s Global Sports Director David Tse hopes to “bring eSports to the next level.”


To guide these teams to success, Razer taps upon a global eSports powerhouse in the Evil Geniuses. EG’s Dota 2 coach, Sam “Bulba” Sosale will mentor the five participating teams to compete at the highest level for the upcoming tournament.

“Evil Geniuses is excited to help some of the best players in Southeast Asia prepare for it,” Sosale said. As of writing, members of the EG’s Dota 2 team are competing in the Upper Bracket semifinal round of The International 9 in Shanghai.

The Razer SEA Games eSports Bootcamp will run from September 2 to 3, 2019 in Singapore. As a treat, Evil Geniuses is hosting their first ever meet-and-greet in Southeast Asia on September 1. Fans will have a chance to get up close with members from EG’s Dota 2 team: Arteezy, SumaiL and s4, along with Bulba. Fans will also get a chance to win signed jerseys from their favorite players.

Continue Reading

Gaming

NVIDIA GeForce Now will bring PC games to Android devices

Taking on Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud

Published

on

Cloud gaming is a recent trend in the industry which aims to revolutionize gaming in the future. In the past few years, industry giants have launched their own cloud gaming platforms: Google announced Stadia, while Microsoft announced xCloud. Soon, they will be joined by NVIDIA with its own GeForce Now which will be available to Android devices soon.

GeForce Now is NVIDIA’s cloud gaming platform that has been in beta for PC, Mac, and NVIDIA Shield TVs. With this recent announcement, GeForce Now will finally come to Android devices. More people will be able to play AAA PC games from their Android devices, regardless of specs. NVIDIA’s platform also has the advantage of streaming PC gaming titles from Steam, UPlay, and other digital stores. In comparison, titles available to Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud is more limited.


NVIDIA is improving the GeForce Now — as such, the platform will remain in beta phase for the foreseeable future. It is free for everyone to try. Those willing will need a compatible Bluetooth gamepad, since some games are unplayable through touch controls alone.

There is no exact date when the GeForce Now will be available to the public. There are also no details yet as to how much the platform will cost as of the moment.

NVIDIA’s GeForce Now is part of the industry’s push towards cloud gaming. Cloud gaming works by streaming a whole game through the internet so people can play their favorite games anytime, anywhere. However, it remains to be seen if people will welcome the technology with open arms — after all, it requires a fast and stable internet connection.

Continue Reading

Gaming

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered has a release date!

So soon yet, not soon enough!

Published

on

After our heartstrings were played with by the Final Fantasy VIII Remastered teaser, fans have swarmed with tons of memes predicting and wondering how specific scenes would appear with stunning new visuals. Well, our memes and dreams are about to either come true or get shut down because Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is getting released on September 3, 2019!

Final Fantasy VIII and why fans love it

Final Fantasy VIII was a game that plotted itself in a fantasy world while digging into an emotional story-line of war and love. The game focuses on a group of young mercenaries led by Squall Leonhart. They’re adventure begins with a striking conflict: Ultimecia. Ultimecia is a sorceress from the future who possesses Edea and wants to compress time. In this quest, Squall encounters friends who inevitably join his quest to keep the world in its balance.


Final Fantasy VIII was the first of its series to reinvent the active time battle wheel without ignoring its roots. The game allowed more customization which ultimately allowed players to work around weaponry, armor, and summons that drastically affected characters’ combat style. These seemingly small tweaks in gameplay gave players breathing room to pick how they wanted to play the game making it all the more immersive.

While its predecessor, Final Fantasy VII, had 3-dimensional models, it didn’t significantly refine designs as much as Final Fantasy VIII. Every element in the game expressed more detail with as much accessible technology as Square could get their hands on. From the planet that showed a level of meticulous detail we hadn’t seen in the series before, to the hilarious “you’re the best looking guy here” memes, Final Fantasy VIII was weirdly ahead with visuals at the time.

What’s new with Final Fantasy VIII Remastered?

First, and obviously, enhanced visuals. The announcement trailer that was revealed in E3 this year made it loud and clear that each element of the game — characters, enemies, objects, and summons — were all refined and enhanced.

Second, battle assists. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered allows you to activate a booster to max out health points (HP) and active time battle (ATB) bars that trigger limit breaks at any point players need. Regardless, you will lose HP when you get hit with a critical attack that renders more damage than your HP, or by lethal damage.

Third, turning off encounters. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered has setting you can use to allow you to turn off random encounters. This is incredibly useful when you’re out of potions, phoenix downs, and need to run to the nearest shop. This doesn’t apply for event battles that need to be done to further the game’s plot.

Fourth, battle speed boosts. The game lets you accelerate time by a factor of three. If you want to breeze through easy battles or rush through level grinding, this feature is useful. This feature isn’t applicable for certain scenes and movies.

Continue Reading

Trending