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Have you played... Pyre?

A slam dunk from Supergiant

Out of all of Supergiant’s games, I feel like Pyre is the odd duck out. Bastion, Transistor, and Hades - all fit nicely into the action-RPG genre (as well as all being absolute bangers) but Pyre is something else entirely. Sure it also has action-RPG elements, but also is a story-rich visual novel and sports game? And they not only work together but also compliment each other?? It’s a magical wizardry mix of genres that still feels fresh today, even though it’s been five years since it released. It’s story following a group of ethereal exiles playing fantasy sports ball in mystical purgatory isn’t half bad too (by which I mean it’s amazing).

The rules of the sport are simple - two teams are placed at opposite ends of a pitch each with a flame (the titular pyre) they must protect. An energy ball appears on the map and the two teams must grab the ball and dunk it into the opponent’s flame until that flame has been snuffed out. Each character has a special ability, movement feels good, and when you pull off a combo you feel fantastic.

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The bog queen herself✨

The story is great, too, with a cast of characters all out for the same, singular thing: redemption. You start out with three on your team but soon your caravan of multidimensional misfits ramps up to ten, each with their own history and story. I love them all, but I particularly have a soft spot for Berturde, a grumpy bog witch who has a knack for alchemy. She sits nicely in second place on my list for Best Swamp Witches In Games list, right next to the crone for Wytchwood who is number one. Top-tier hag, imo.

Pyre is ultimately a story about returning home. As you win (or lose) matches you gain a certain number of points. The team at the end of each series of matches gets to choose a player on their side to ascend back to the land of the living. Winning that freedom matters to each and every character, as their desire to return to their old lives fuels their play during matches.

This is why Pyre’s story hits much harder than other Supergiant games; each time you help a character ascend back into the overworld it's like taking a lobbed volleyball straight to the heart. Ouch.

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