Tyranny Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Paradox Interactive
Developer:Obsidian Entertainment
Release Date:2016-11-10
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Buy this Game: Amazon ebay

But overall I found the character system to be different and effective.  You're given lots of options for how to build your character (with seven weapon skills, eleven magic skills, and six talent trees) and for what sorts of damage you want to focus on, and while I was playing didn't notice one type of character being wildly better or worse than any other type, so the balance seems to be fine.  Sort of sadly, though, there isn't any way to respec your character, so if you choose one path and then later change your mind, there isn't any way to make a correction.

Gameplay Mechanics

One of the things I didn't like about Pillars of Eternity was how Obsidian slavishly made it look like an Infinity Engine game.  Now, I loved the Infinity Engine games, but not so much because of the interfaces they used, and so Obsidian's decision seemed strange to me.  But now with Tyranny, Obsidian has taken the lessons they learned from Pillars, and they've created a modern interface that looks better and is much friendlier to use.

The game still uses 2D maps, and so you still get an isometric view of your party.  It also means that you're allowed to zoom the view in or out, but there isn't any way to rotate the camera.  All commands can be given using the mouse or configurable hotkeys, and you can even queue up commands by pressing the shift key, so it's easy to jump in and start playing the game -- which is good since Tyranny, like so many other games recently, doesn't come with a manual.

But probably the nicest thing about the interface is the tooltips, including tooltips during dialogue.  If you're talking to somebody and they mention a person or a place, then you can hover the mouse over the name in the text and get some information about it, which is great when you're learning what's going on.  There are even context-sensitive tooltips, where the text might have a specific meaning to your character.  I loved the tooltips, and I hope it's something that other developers add to their games.

Less great about the interface is that Obsidian decided that the combat log, the text log, and the mini-map should share the same window on the screen, so you can only see one at a time.  The text log and the combat log can share the same window since you're never talking and fighting at the same time, but I want to see the mini-map all the time, so this sharing-of-space irritated me.  Worse, Obsidian didn't create a local map screen at all, so you can only see the local map in the mini-map window, which can only expand to about a quarter of the screen, and which can't be annotated.  This is especially annoying during the dungeon delving parts of the game, where there are things you can't do the first time you visit a location, and you have to remember where they are for later.

While Obsidian was making the interface (mostly) friendlier, they also made combat friendlier.  Gone is the odd system from Pillars where characters have combat health and full health.  Now characters just have health, and they automatically regenerate it when they're not in combat.  Obsidian also got rid of memorized spells.  Now all spells and skills simply have a cooldown, except for special companion combo skills (where you and a companion work together to do something), which can only be performed once per encounter or once per rest.

Combat is performed in real time, but you can slow it down if you want, and you can also set a variety of pause conditions so the game stops when you spot an enemy, or when you take damage, or when a character is low on health, or when about a dozen other triggers take place.  Since most skills just use a cooldown, you don't have to worry about holding anything back.  You can use your arsenal when it's tactically relevant.  The AI is also decent, so you can let your companions do their thing while you control your character.  I usually only took control of my companions to get them to heal more aggressively.

If you're knocked out during a battle, then you don't die; you just receive a wound.  You can also receive a wound from taking a major hit.  Wounds reduce your maximum health, your skills, and your attributes, so they're best to be avoided.  The only way to cure a wound is to rest, which requires camping supplies.  The game is very friendly about when and where you can rest, camping supplies are cheap and plentiful, and there isn't any sort of a time limit, so there isn't much of a reason to not camp if your party is in bad shape.