A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tyranny is a downloadable role-playing game (or RPG). Violence frequently happens in the game, with players using swords, arrows, and spells to eliminate humans and creatures. These enemies frequently spray blood, cry in pain, and collapse, while bodies also litter the environment. The top-down perspective limits the impact of this violence. Lots of profanity frequently spoken, including "s--t" and "f--k," and players can choose to drink alcoholic beverages to get some light stat bonuses and penalties by doing so.
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What's it about?
TYRANNY is an RPG set on the war-torn world of Terratus, where a multiple-centuries-long conquest by the god-like Overlord Kyros is in its last days. You take on the role of a Fatebinder, a special agent of the Overlord tasked with bringing order out of chaos and acting as judge, jury, and executioner across the land. And your skills are sorely needed, because you're dispatched to eliminate a rebellion that's the last hurdle to absolute global domination. With the help of companions you gain along the way, you'll investigate the cause of the rebellion, uncover possible dissension in the Overlord's ranks, cast powerful spells that have life-altering consequences, and make decisions that change the entire world.
Is it any good?
This dark, morally gray RPG has plenty of depth and replayability for players to embrace their inner villains, if they're willing to put up with some technical flaws. Tyranny is a unique take on the standard adventure theme because you're not the hero, nor are there any to be found in this game. Since evil has already won before the game starts, every action you and your squad of companions make has some dirt or blood on it in service to Kyros' terrible rule. While you wouldn't expect that choice has a large role to play under a barbarous lord, the decisions you make as a player throughout the entire game affects and determines the fates of the lives of thousands. For example, you can burn libraries full of knowledge or murder a queen in front of her subjects. Players can even choose to make the game harder on themselves by eliminating their own companions or facing off alone against enemies, fully taking on the role of arbiter wandering the wastelands. In fact, each faction or character will express a fear or favorability level based on your choices, which can actually unlock new abilities and powers that can be wielded against enemies daring to attack you. This reinforces the feeling that the world is constantly evolving in your wake, making you feel like a force of nature instead of a caricature of an evil figure.
Unfortunately, while you may want to fully engage in your darker fantasies, Tyranny has a lot of issues that interrupt the malevolent fun. It's plagued with an incredible amount of technical flaws. Saved games and progress seem to be disregarded frequently, forcing repeated loading attempts in the hopes that you don't have to completely start over from the beginning. Key items and characters will sometimes disappear in the aftermath of battles, so you may need to reload a checkpoint to advance the plot. Plus, as you get farther in the game, there's a definite issue with pacing, as if the majority of the development went into the establishment of the initial setting and factional conflict. As you get closer to the end (involving the use and awakening of some powerful artifacts), the story and action feel a bit rushed and passed over, as if the real explanation for what happened is being saved for a future expansion pack or a sequel. But, if you can look past these hiccups, you and your henchmen can truly enjoy wreaking havoc across a landscape that's tailor-made for you. After all, you broke it -- now it's time for you to rule it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the content of the game limited because of the focus on destroying your enemies, or does the top-down perspective on the violence reduce the graphic nature of combat? Does it really matter given the focus of the game making you a "bad guy"?
Talk about morality. You play a character who performs some unsavory acts during the game, but what is it about playing the role of a villain that's appealing? Since it's virtually impossible to be a "good guy," what do your in-game decisions say about your style of play?
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