RPG factions tend to stress me out. Too often they mark the point of no return in an RPG - the moment when you have to definitively choose which path you wish to travel en route to the endgame.
When handled well, they have a memorable impact on the story. When handled poorly, they feel forced and artificial. Fallout 4 actually manages to have examples of both.
Which brings me to Tyranny, the upcoming isometric RPG by Obsidian. In Tyranny, you are a Fatebinder - a powerful agent of the conquering emperor Kyros. With the world firmly on Kyros' control, the empire's attention has turned inward as various factions vie for influence. You can ally with some of them, go it alone, or even turn against the empire entirely.
The scenario I saw at E3 2016 was the last case. After taking a brief survey, I was cast as a member of a rebel group fighting a desperate battle against two of Kyros' armies: the Scarlet Chorus and the Disfavored. What followed was fairly standard RPG fare as I handled a few groups of enemies alongside my party, then confronted one of the enemy leaders.
It was there that I was confronted with what I considered the rather amusing option to turn on my allies. In a normal run, I doubt I would ever do such a thing; but as I was in the middle of a demo, I figured, "Why not?" I renounced the rebels, at which point Kyros' forces decided I couldn't be trusted and attacked anyway.
Sadly, I didn't get to deal with the fallout of my rather rash decision. Nevertheless, I was assured that there would be some major consequences to turning on my allies. In fact, according to director Brian Heins, renouncing your allegiance to the rebels will kick off an entirely different quest line. Now that's something I'd like to see.
Decisions like these are why I've been keeping an eye on Tyranny since it was announced back at GDC. Freed of the onerous demands of triple-A development, Obsidian can take their isometric RPGs in some pretty interesting directions. A simpler engine makes it easier to create content, which in turn makes for more flexible storytelling - something that Obsidian is leaning on heavily for Tyranny. The ability to turn on your allies is interesting in itself, but I'm really curious to see how deep Tyranny's rabbit hole ultimately goes. How many alliances will I be able to make and break before I'm finished? I want to see.
To this point, Tyranny has been mostly flying under the radar; but if it ends up being as ambitious as it seems, it stands a chance of being one of the year's better RPGs. And given Obsidian's strong history as an RPG developer - one that stretches back to Black Isle Studios and the original Fallout - there's every reason to believe that Tyranny will live up to that promise.
This article may contain links to online retail stores. If you click on one and buy the product we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.