Sometimes, evil wins.
This is the tagline of Obsidian's RPG game Tyranny in which you play as a Fatebinder in tyrant Kyros’ dominion. You have the choice throughout the game to use your power to exact justice and inspire loyalty or bring fear and cruelty to the beaten people of the Tiers. Every decision you make carries real consequences for the world and the characters around you.
I think this game would make a fantastic Game of Thrones-esque show (minus the terrible ending) were it to be adapted for television in the right hands. But I want to delve more into what makes this game truly stand out from the crowd.
Tyranny is not just another RPG set in an apocalyptic world where you play the underdog destined to overthrow the evil dictator. It has all of these elements incorporated into a rich and fully-developed world that is steeped in a history and mythology of its own. The game developers have done a great job of drawing players into a fantastical world full of magic, intrigue and danger. Tyranny allows you complete freedom to choose how you wish to play and affect the world of Terratus.
However, what really stands out about this game is its matriarchal setting. Almost the entire world is ruled by women, and Kyros’ gender is intriguingly never clarified, remaining a topic of gossip and mystery amongst the inhabitants of Terratus. As you play the game, you find out that five women founded the civilisation on land whilst the men went off to sea. This resulted in societies saturated with powerful women. In this fantasy game, gender equality allows for a far more diverse and realistic cast of characters to be portrayed; something Hollywood is still struggling with.
Such an alteration in traditional societal gender politics is perfectly suited to Tyranny’s fantasy world. The more progressive aspects of the game are naturally woven into the story and world rather than being shoved down your throat to make a point. The feminist aspects of the game do nothing to detract from your gameplay whatsoever. They make this a unique, stand-out game, and one which appeals to a wider audience.
I was shocked when I looked at some players’ incredibly negative reactions to such a refreshing game. One player claimed he could not enjoy Tyranny as he felt bad about killing the female warriors in the game. Another argument was that all of the women in Tyranny were too butch and lacked individuality, whilst yet another player said that most gamers are men so games should cater towards a male audience.
I take great issue with these statements, particularly the last one. It may be true that the majority of gamers remain male, but is this any surprise when there are almost no games created which are geared towards women? Or with women in mind? There are many women who enjoy gaming, but it becomes exhausting spending time in a sandbox that is clearly only interested in objectifying your gender. The lack of three-dimensional women portrayed in games is isolating and off-putting and, in many cases, prevents women from enjoying their gaming experience.
More games should follow Tyranny’s example and carve out a space for women in the experience they offer. Such sexist attitudes towards female representation and participation in games will only change when women are accepted into the gaming community. Creators and developers should lead the charge to make this change happen.
You can purchase Tyranny on their website here.
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