Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ.

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day!

Few genres seem to go together as poorly as visual novel and sports games. Sure, sports games in the last few years have started to adopt more storytelling and RPG aspects to it but still, most people who pick up a sports game don’t usually want to spend hours reading a story. Still, somehow, it has been done successfully so today, let’s take a look at that game. Today’s game is Pyre, developed by Supergiant Games and released on PC, Mac, Linux, and Playstation 4 in 2017.

Pyre’s characters have all found themselves cast out of society, to the world known as Downside. There is hope, however. By competing in the Rites, people have a chance to win a ticket back to society but only if they emerge victorious. The player character is one such exile who is picked up and soon manages a team called the Nightwings who are fighting through  the Rites for their salvation.

The Rites play a bit like the game Ultimate Frisbee. Teams of three move around a field and must try to get an orb into the opposing team’s pyre at the other end of the field. Each character has an aura surrounding them and if the player with the orb touches an opponent’s aura, they are temporarily removed from the game, causing the team to be down a player until they return. This means that passing the orb between players is vital to avoid having your players removed. Each character also has a few special abilities such as launching their aura out from them to try and remove opponents or a dash to move a bit faster down the field.

Characters all have their own stats in Pyre, with some characters specializing in speed and agility while others have larger auras and are better at eliminating opponents. The goal of each Rite is to destroy the other team’s pyre, which is done by getting the orb to that pyre, but this means that the game is not scored with points as simply as you may expect. Slower, stronger characters who get the orb to the pyre will do more damage than smaller, quicker characters but it is much more difficult to maneuver those slower characters through enemy auras. Team building involves a significant amount of strategy to get an effective group balancing speed and damage.

Like Supergiant’s previous games, Bastion and Transistor, Pyre was well received but with the caveat that it will not be for everyone. The game involves story elements that may be tough for some folks and the gameplay is certainly unique. That said, many critics and fans from both sports games and visual novels enjoyed the Rites, saying that the game was tense but relatively slow-paced, never becoming strictly about reflexes. The story was also praised with many stating that the game perfectly served the plot, allowing it to be told in a way that no other medium could quite capture. Supergiant has since gone on to develop Hades which is currently in early access.

Thank you so much for listening! I’m going to be streaming Terraria Saturday morning with Adrian Simple over on his Twitch channel twitch.tv/gaming_observer. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @vg_oftheday for details and links to that and all of my other projects. As always, don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day!

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.