The good guys usually win. It's just the story most of us prefer. However, it's not always the case. Sometimes, like in Obsidian's newest, Tyranny, the bad guys win. That's the setup for the Tyranny, an RPG set in the aftermath of a devastating war where the evil lord came out on top. While not an unheard of premise, very few developers have given it a serious take, usually falling into comedic realms. While my time with the game was mostly combat related, it was easy to tell that Obsidian is looking to let the game live up to its potential.
The demo began with me selecting one of three pre-built characters to play as. The game does not have a traditional leveling system, instead opting for a skill-based one. In the final game, skills will increase as you use them but for the purposes of the demo my skills and experience were static. In Tyranny, you play as one of the overlord Kyros' Fatebinders, judges and executers of Kyros' will. In the demo, I was in a position where I had openly assisted local rebel leaders against two warring factions, the Scarlet Chorus and the Disfavored. Now both had joined forces to seige the keep I was currently occupying. They were looking to gain control of the fort for the benefit of the Edict stored there. Edicts are powerful magics put in place by Kyros that could have devastating effects in the wrong hands.
Combat in Tyranny is built off of the Pillars of Eternity engine, but with a fair number of changes. Mana has been removed entirely and replaced with a cool down system. At least for the demo I played, this kept combat at a quick pace. The game keeps Pillars' real-time-with-pause combat, I was only able to control one person at a time while the AI took over for the others but control of characters could be switched at any time. I chose the mage for the demo and the difficulty was set without friendly fire activated, so my area of effect spells could be used with reckless abandon. There were also combination abilities that required the protagonist and one other character in the party to perform.
After a few battles spent trying to fend off invading forces, they manage to break through to the interior, wherein they recognized me and asked why I had shirked my duties and aided the rebels. This gave me my first meaningful choice of the demo. This was also when I began to notice that bolded words in dialogue boxes could be highlighted to bring up a tooltip that gave a brief description of the highlighted term. I found this to be an incredibly convenient tool to help with many of the in-universe terms that could be easily forgotten after hours of play. In this case, it helped to teach me about the universe in the first place. This was also the first time that combat skills could be used to provide new dialogue options. After fighting through this final group, the game left me with another choice to either leave the Edict alone, let the rebellion make use of it, or, the clearly superior option, assuming control of the keep and taking the Edict for myself. This did cause me to lose favor with every faction involved, but since it was the end of the demo I wouldn't suffer any real repercussions. Obsidian also told me that new dialogue options would open both for being in favor or disfavor with the game's many groups.
I enjoyed my time with Tyranny a lot. The game felt very far along and was about as bug-free as I had ever seen an Obsidian game. I wasn't given that much of an opportunity to see the darker world the developers are hoping to presenti due to the length of the demo, but some of it was present. The combat seems lighter than Pillars' but this feels good as it gives it a proper distinction from its closest point of comparison. Tyranny is still planned for release on PC in 2016.