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Old 08-04-2017, 12:17 PM
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Default Freedom is a privilege. Yours has been revoked. Let's Play Pyre



Hey kids!

Let's play Pyre!

Supergiant Games is already awesome by virtue of their first game release, Bastion. Transistor was also a great game that I adore, but at the same time, people noticed that they were doing a lot of experimenting with the storytelling and the gameplay, and not always in ways that worked for the better. So while I imagine quite a few people were a bit surprised when they announced a game halfway between a sports sim and a visual novel, and a lot of people were disappointed, I just shrugged and said "eh, it'll be weird, but it'll be MY kind of weird."

And I was right. I've already beaten the game once, but I will be doing a stream of the game's campaign mode on Friday evenings, 6PM Mountain Time (so for the West Coast that's 5PM, for the East Coast thats 8PM). I may have to adjust this schedule for work, but expect around that time.



I'm going to dedicate this first post to explaining the Rites within Pyre. As mentioned, this is halfway between a sports sim and a visual novel, and explaining the sports sim part is easier.

Each triumvirate (team) is composed of three exiles, and both sides have a blazing pyre. I'm using the game's built-in couch versus mode to demonstrate this. It has couch versus mode, it's pretty cool. The stats and whatever you see here, I will explain in later posts.



The objective of the game is simple: take the Celestial Orb that the other triumvirate's player has just grabbed, and dunk it into the other pyre. The circles around everyone are their auras: if your aura touches an opponent, they are banished for a few seconds and drop the Celestial Orb if they have it.

(Also I desperately wanted to have Madden scribbles over these screenshots, but I decided against it because explaining the game takes priority over dumb jokes for this post.)



While holding the Celestial Orb, your aura is disabled, so you'll have to evade the enemy team's defenders. In addition to just having it passively up, you can cast it ahead of you as seen here: this removes your personal aura but lets you launch it further and faster, great for breaking past enemy defenders.



In addition to this, each player can sprint, jump, and pass the Celestial Orb to one another. You don't interact with auras while jumping, but any opponent that collides with you during a jump makes you drop the Orb, so be careful about it. Most of these actions consume stamina, as well.



Once you get to the pyre holding the orb, you can dive in to deal it some damage. The exile that does this is banished until one side or the other scores again, so it's not always in your best interest to dive right in if you're having trouble taking their team on.



One thing worth noting is that each side can only control one exile at a time. This is a weird but intentional design choice, to limit the computer having too much of an edge by being able to finetune their AI better than the player. Additionally, whoever you switch to, if you have the Celestial Orb, will be passed it by their teammates, so once you have the Orb, you can't go on the offensive like I am here. That other exile is throwing the Orb to my exile, presumably to disable her aura and reactivate his.



The advantage of throwing the Orb is that you don't lose your exile for scoring this way. The disadvantage is that you have to stay still and charge up your shot, and it's very easy to get chumped by the defenders unless you've banished all of them.

Really, that about covers it for the Rites. Reduce their Pyre to smoldering ash, and YUO WIN



So why are we playing the Rites? Well, Hedwyn here has a bit to say about it, but we'll see more about this once we actually get into the story of the game, y'know?

Last edited by Kalir; 08-05-2017 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 08-11-2017, 04:33 PM
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Hi.

I'll be streaming Pyre in half an hour. Right over here.
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Old 08-11-2017, 07:46 PM
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And done. Had some technical troubles to start, but I will be posting clips of video here from the stream throughout the week.
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Old 08-12-2017, 02:06 PM
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We begin our journey through the downside, and our discovery of the Rites.

Character Bio:




Hedwyn

We'll get more acquainted with each of the exiles in the game as we progress, but I'll start with the first one you meet. Hedwyn is a Nomad (human), who finds you on the outskirts of the Downside, along with Rukey Greentail and Jodariel. In most other games, he would be the completely bread-and-butter male protagonist who the story revolves around for no clearly defined reason. Here, he is still a fairly central character, but that's not really a bad thing. Level-headed, idealistic, and optimistic, Hedwyn's always around to keep the team together even when things seem dour, even if he rarely takes charge himself.

Of course, he is still a criminal-in-exile, as is everyone in the Downside, but we don't know exactly what he did yet. There are a great many things one can do to end up in exile, none of them remotely equal. I'm sure we'll hear about what he's done when he's ready to tell us, and in the meantime, he'll help us out by making meals and standing in the Rites.

Every exile has four stats: Glory (how much damage they deal to the enemy Pyre), Presence (how large their Aura is), Quickness (how fast they can move), and Hope (how quickly they return from banishment). As with all other Nomads, Hedwyn has favorable, if not exceptionally strong, values in all four areas. He's the yardstick by which everyone else is measured. You probably won't use him as your flagship character, but he'll certainly do the job before him.

Additionally, each Exile can gain up to four Masteries as they accumulate Enlightenment from the Rites. There are two skill trees diamonds, each with four selections. You need the first to get either of the two after it, and one of those to get the last one. Easy, right? Listing them here for Hedwyn and the other Nomads.

Marks of the Master-General:
  • Martial Training: Hedwyn gets an extra 50% max Stamina boost, so he can jump and sprint more often. It's nice, sure, but it has stiff competition from its counterpart in the other skill tree.
  • Critical Strike: If you time a charge-up of your Aura-Cast just right, you can do a Power-Cast, which works much like the Power Shot in Bastion. Critical Strike just gives Hedwyn's Power-Casts more area, which is, of course, very handy.
  • Shoulder Smash: Ordinarily, if two opposing exiles collide in mid-air, they can force one another to drop the Celestial Orb. Shoulder Smash grants Hedwyn an extra edge, letting him banish players with mid-air collisions. This makes him a phenomenal anti-air character, arguably one of the best.
  • Burning Resolve: Simple enough: any time Hedwyn damages the enemy Pyre, his own Pyre regains 50% of the damage done this way as life. It's life leech! It works really well! You'll probably find yourself scoring with Hedwyn quite a bit anyway, so why not get some use out of it?

Bonds of the Sahrian Legion:
  • Shared Tenacity: While his other skill tree focuses on making him all-around better, this one helps out his entire team. For starters, Shared Tenacity says that as long as Hedwyn's in your Rite, your team gets double Stamina regen, which is ridiculously good.
  • Moon Formation: Going further in that, as long as anyone on Hedwyn's team has the orb, they move more quickly and pass it more quickly. This one really rewards a skilled macro player, who can swap between the three exiles quickly to maneuver the orb.
  • Sacred Bond: With this, you can return teammates from banishment just by going to where they were. This works best with teams that have inordinately low Hope scores, such as teams with Demons like Jodariel, or with extremely aggressive teams that find themselves banished more than not.
  • Divine Retribution: Again, really simple: enemies get 2 seconds more banishment out of each banishment. This lets you take the advantage in a confrontation with aggressive banishments and push it hard.

Last edited by Kalir; 08-12-2017 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 08-13-2017, 09:43 AM
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We get into how traveling the Downside works, and have our first real Rite against the Accusers.

Character Bio:




Rukey Greentail

Rukey is a lot like Hedwyn in terms of personality, in that he's very optimistic. However, Rukey is way more energetic about his emotions than Hedwyn is. He's quick to anger, but also quick to forgive. There's few things that trouble him for very long. He also seems to be the most well-connected of the three Nightwings so far, with people here and there that owe him favors. Makes you wonder if anyone has one he owes them. He's not an especially multifaceted character, honestly: about the only thing that hints towards more backstory is the family portrait he keeps in the blackwagon.

Rukey has excellent Quickness and Hope, but low Glory and Presence. While he'll have trouble banishing other exiles unless they're trying to run the Orb to our Pyre, he's a very good choice for sneaking in quick goals. His high Hope means that even if he does get caught offguard during a run, he'll be back on his feet in no time. You won't get many points for scoring with Rukey, but with how easy it is to do, every little bit adds up.

Anyway, here's his Masteries, which as before, are shared among all curs like him. While Hedwyn's Masteries emphasized his all-around effectiveness, Rukey's are built towards his high Quickness.

Maneuvers of Many-Mane:
  • Cloud Jump: And right off the bat, you can get Rukey access to a double jump. While you won't be able to abuse altitude that much here, it DOES let you have a lot more midair maneuverability. Wait for the right opening and Cloud Jump in!
  • Lightning Run: Y'know, in case Rukey wasn't already fast enough. Now his sprint has better acceleration and top speed. You'll have no trouble finding a way to weave through an opposition with this Mastery.
  • Lucky Break: A 50% chance for an effective instant respawn isn't anything to sneeze at, mind you. I just don't see it being very useful for Rukey, who already has a very brief respawn time on account of his high Hope. I'd say skip it.
  • Moon Sault: What, double jump isn't enough? How about a TRIPLE JUMP, then? With this, you will absolutely be able to clear over enemies vertically, even if they're trying their best to tackle you out of the skies. Takes a while to get here, but it's worth it.

Traits of the Alpha-Chief:
  • Glory Dive: Now we're talking. Using his vanilla Glory stat, Rukey will only be able to chip at the enemy Pyre. Glory Dive says that as long as he's jumping in (not just throwing the Orb), he gets +5 damage. That adds up really quickly, and makes him an incredibly reliable scorer.
  • Keen Eye: Rukey's Aura-Cast is nothing special. Longer range, sure, but also pretty thin. With this, it gets to be pretty far-reaching, letting you handle chokepoints by launching his Aura through them, then sprint in to grab the Orb and capitalize.
  • Explosive Temper: This gets even better when you add this trait, as your Aura-Casts now cause chain reactions if they banish. On its own, it's not terrible reliable except for breaking up enemy defensive lines, but it really comes into its own with Keen Eye backing it up.
  • Guiding Light: Now you're just being silly. Rukey comes back after scoring with a Pyre dive, rather than being banished until the next score? You could easily leverage this to just have Rukey Pyre-dive constantly with your other two guys just being huge walls, no problem.
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Old 08-14-2017, 07:46 AM
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We encounter and subsequently name a mysterious stowaway, and face off against the Fate, probably my favorite triumvirate.

Character Bio:




Jodariel

Drastically different from her fellows, we have Jodariel. This horned titan of a woman is very dour and serious, and slow to trust others. This isn't to call her unkind, mind you, just that she will probably be very blunt and pessimistic in her bedside manner while treating you. More to the point, she's stayed in the Downside far longer than either Hedwyn or Rukey, to the point where it has transformed her into a Demon.

Which, incidentally, gives her a slightly different moveset as well as statline from her companions. Demons like Jodariel have immense Presence and the highest base Glory stat in the game, but very poor Quickness and Hope. So she'll have trouble getting anywhere and will take a long time to recover, but will threaten a huge area at all times, and can do loads of damage to the enemy Pyre if she ever manages to get close enough to score.

Additionally, she does not have the same kind of sprint that the others do. Instead, she has a short-ranged Rush, which gives her an immediate quick burst of speed. On most characters, it'd be hardly worth noting, but Jodariel's Presence makes this a solid way of intercepting a runner. Additionally, her leap creates a massive shockwave when it lands, scattering exiles on both teams away from her.

Jodariel's Demon Masteries are as straightforward as Rukey's, emphasizing her raw power and making her even more dangerous in the Rites.

Sins of the Fallen Emperor:
  • Long Stride: I feel like the wording on this one is confusing. It says that Jodariel can basically double-Rush, which is correct, as they now consume half of her stamina instead of all of it. This is, of course, about as good as her maneuverability gets, so better to have it than not!
  • Crushing Heel: Flying stomps are cool, but they're even cooler when they make other exiles drop the Orb. Do note that this doesn't protect Jodariel should she land in an exile's Aura, so be careful against opponents who have particularly large Presence.
  • Brazen Manner: During the match, any exile can salute, which normally does nothing but make a cool pose. Jodariel is our first exile to have a Mastery for this, which grants her +10 damage to the enemy Pyre if she scores for a while after doing this. This is an extremely risky maneuver, best saved for after clearing out their team.
  • Celestial Spike: There's a theorycrafter on the Steam forums who argues that Jodariel is only saved from being bottom-tier due to this move. Which, yeah, making Orb throws into an attack in and of itself is HUGE. No defensive line can stop Jodariel from throwing in for points with this.

Boons of the First Exile:
  • Relentless Vigor: If Jodariel banishes a foe, she instantly gets all of her stamina back? This is a bit weaker than it sounds, as a single jump or rush will deplete her stamina completely (unless you took Long Stride). Still, this can let her push an offensive much further than usual, or seize the advantage after cutting off an attack.
  • Fierce Presence: Hey, just a permanent +4 Presence, nothing wrong with that. Again, demons already have the largest Presence score by far, so taking this ensures that enemies will have to work extra hard to get around her (or risk throwing the Orb past her, which takes time).
  • Enduring Flame: Another straightforward buff, this just gives your Pyre even more strength, starting you off at 135. This one works just by having Jodariel in the match at all, so if you mostly rely on her defensively and instead prefer to run with other exiles, this one's an easy choice.
  • Greater Banishment: Jodariel is at her best when banishing enemies, so keeping them away even longer is great. This goes a long way against teams that rely on high Hope to constantly wear you down, letting you make some headway rather consistently.
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Old 08-15-2017, 09:42 AM
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A lot of the characters we meet in this episode have a history with the Nightwings, and in the case of the Dissidents, it's not a happy one.

Character Bio:




Shae

Our first "recruit" is a weird stowaway who can barely remember her name. In fact, you can name her a wide variety of things, since all she remembers is that her name rhymes with "gray". Weird that the Reader can decide what her name is, but eh. In our campaign, we named her Shae, but when I played on my own I named her Fae. Either way, she's very friendly, if something of an oddball in terms of mentality. She's also the most pious of the lot, constantly looking for the blessings of the Eight Scribes.

Shae's race is classified as "savage", but there's not really much to say that there's anything differentiating people like her (or Almer) from Nomads like Hedwyn save for how society views them. As such, her stats are pretty close to his: slightly less Presence, a touch more Quickness and Hope, but still statwise more or less interchangable.

The real differences are her movement abilities and Masteries. Her Jump and Sprint don't happen immediately when pressed like with Nomads, but instead have a slight charge-up time. As a trade-off, Shae can go a lot farther more quickly with her moves, especially if you time her Power-Jumps just right. (I have yet to figure out the timing on that at all.)

As for her Masteries, Shae's are tied to Khaylmer Rope-Caller. Which is weird, because he's not actually one of the Eight Scribes! You'll find out more as we unlock pages in the Book of Rites, but as far as Masteries go it's not a huge deal.

Tricks of the Rope-Caller:
  • Heightened Reflexes: Kind of weird that one of the first Masteries you can get is just "make her more like Hedwyn". But eh, it's not a bad idea, really. Only problem is that it makes the Power-Jump timing different, but outside of that it's still just that she can react faster, which is crucial for getting away from tough spots (or getting to them).
  • Traitor's Flight: Further jumps can come in very handy, especially with Power-Jumps. A skilled Shae can get to the Orb and launch herself from almost anywhere into the opponent's Pyre, with very little time for the enemy to react.
  • Webbed Feet: I don't know if the area of effect on this is comparable to Jodariel's Crushing Heel, but slowing enemies that are nearby as she sprints is mostly only helpful on defense. Without your own Aura to capitalize on this or protect yourself as you get close enough to slow, it's not ideal for goal-scoring.
  • False Step: Amazing Mastery for pressuring the opponent. Shae comes back if banished mid-jump? Yeah, you'll still drop the Orb if you have it, but with how far Shae can launch herself, this makes going for goals from long ranges much more effective and less risky, since hey, she'll be back right away!

The Grand Traitor's Leanings:
  • Snap Cast: Aura-Casts charge up quicker! That's always nice. It's not really anything you can build an entire strategy around, but it's nice. Just you can shoot Auras at people more quickly, that's all.
  • Quick Fling: Shae's just getting every ability that says "do this thing but quicker", isn't she? I still consider jumping to be more effective for her overall, but if you're good at finding openings to throw the Orb in, Shae can capitalize on that much more easily.
  • Sudden Grasp: Shae's saluting ability let her instajump to the Orb if it's unclaimed. I mean, that's cool and all, but how long is the enemy going to just let her sit there saluting with an unclaimed Orb on hand, right? Still, this can make for a really good setup of "salute, warp to Orb, jump right at the enemy Pyre, GOAL".
  • Dark Vigor: This one is completely insane. Infinite Stamina while holding the Orb lets Shae just bolt around the field like a complete maniac. The biggest problem with Dark Vigor is that taking it precludes you from all the best traits for amplifying her sprints and jumps! It's still a good trait, mind, just harder to capitalize on.
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Old 08-16-2017, 10:00 AM
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The Withdrawn are our opponents here. And they're doom cultists. This is fine, right? Totally fine. We also encounter Sandra of the Beyonders, in her own weird way.

Character Bio:




Ti'zo

Most drive-imps are pretty simple creatures, that want nothing more than good meals and something to do, but on rare occasions, some of them can get to the level of intellect of other people, like Ti'zo here. Ti'zo traveled with the Nightwings before we rolled along, making him perhaps the oldest of the characters currently on our triumvirate. He's always happy to help and rather fearless, willing to stand his ground in "conversation" against all manner of opponents.

Imps handle extremely strangely compared to other characters. They have some very awkward stats, chief among them low Glory and Quickness, so you might consider them a poor choice for scoring, which is technically correct. Their decent Presence and Hope lends one to consider them a defensive character like Jodariel, but without the high value you could get from scoring.

The devil is in the details, as Ti'zo has the weirdest moveset so far. Instead of a dash, he has a Zip that consumes a small chunk of Stamina to move quickly forward, which can do incredible evasive work or catch enemies approaching the goal. Instead of jumping, he can Flutter in the air for a pretty serious length of time, although this doesn't cover much ground. And finally, instead of the usual Aura-Cast, Ti'zo causes their aura to Implode, banishing opponents in a seriously wide range but also banishing himself (albeit with a reduced respawn time).

Ti'zo's Masteries are similarly bizarre, and greatly emphasize using the Implode ability aggressively to get the upper hand on your opponents. Like Hedwyn, Ti'zo might not be able to do a lot themselves, but they can greatly aid your team through their sacrifices.

Secrets of the Accursed Imp:
  • Elusive Nature: Zips and Flutters move faster. One of those "exactly what it says on the box" Masteries, which lets Ti'zo advance much more quickly into enemy lines, either to go for a score themselves or to shatter the enemy's defenses with a quick Implode.
  • Safe Return: If you are going to use Ti'zo, you really should be getting as much mileage as possible out of your Implode, so having them return more quickly after such an ability is extremely handy. This lets them serve the dual purpose of banishing a bunch of enemies and being a handy defense against whoever survives.
  • Titans' Rage: Bigger Implodes! What's not to like? This also, I believe, lets you charge it up faster, which is of great importance if enemies try to banish you pre-emptively, which can very easily happen if you get overconfident.
  • Inner Glory: +10 Pyre damage. Suddenly, Ti'zo is a better goal-runner than Rukey by a factor of "yes". Okay, that's not quite fair, Rukey will have far better mobility. But now Ti'zo will have plenty of their own agility plus a much higher score value.

Flights of the Swallow:
  • Moon Sign: The first support ability Ti'zo gets is the ability to place a Moon Sign wherever they are banished (for any reason). Placing this opens up a warp by your Pyre, which any exile (including Ti'zo on respawn) can use to jump instantly to where he was banished. Use this to set up an aggressive opening!
  • Last Laugh: This is an amazing ability for leaving Ti'zo on defense OR for just charging in with your Aura like a maniac, as it auto-Implodes him if he is banished without the Orb. You might even consider ignoring the Orb in favor of just Zipping in banishing people.
  • Wild Heart: Transforming into a Howler with a salute is a weird thing to do, but it's not a bad idea. While you lose the capability to do anything but hold the Orb and move, you have some real get up and go, and you can instantly transform back as the need arises. More mobility (that doesn't require stamina) is amazing for Ti'zo.
  • Star Sign: Improved Moon Sign! Anyone that uses it gets a speed and stamina boost, meaning that enemies basically have to camp the Moon Sign to ensure that you won't just snag the Orb and slam into their Pyre with it the second they drop their guard.
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Old Yesterday, 10:23 AM
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By cashing in a favor Bertrude owes to Sandalwood, we gain the means to sail the Sea of Solis and face off against the Pyrehearts.

Character Bio:




Sir Gilman

What, did you think I'd just cover the Nightwings? Nah, man. We only have so many of them, and every character we see here has a story to tell and their own reasons for returning from exile. Sir Gilman here is an exemplary wyrm-knight: bold, chivalrous, noble, wears his heart on his sleeve and always tries his hardest. He claims to be on a quest to regain his honor, although we don't really know what he means by this, yet.

Statwise, you would be forgiven for assuming that Wyrms like Sir Gilman are Luigimodes of curs, as they have high Quickness and Hope but low Glory. More Quickness, less Hope, but basically the same. However, they differ in terms of their Presence stat. The Presence stat does not determine a Wyrm's aura size, but the length of their aura trail. Their aura lingers along the path they travel, even if the area around them cannot increase in size.

Likewise, Wyrms cannot cast their auras. Instead, they can perform an Aura-Slash, instantly jumping back to the end of their aura trail and banishing any enemies close enough to the path they take. The best post I've seen on how best to utilize this feature is to use Wyrms not to score, but to set up goals for other teammates by quickly getting them into position to control a wide swath of the battlefield.

Not that you can't use a Wyrm to score, but all of their Masteries are basically built around banishing enemies or assisting their team. While a wyrm will have trouble reliably scoring as much as a cur, they'll lend a hand to the rest of their team no problem.

Depths of the Sea-Sojourner:
  • Valiant Return: Again, Wyrms have pretty decent Hope, but being able to instantly return if the team gets banished means you can press on more aggressively and still have a chance should everything go south. This obviously suits highly-aggressive teams hoping to give as good as they get.
  • Stunning Claim: Do note that this salute will immobilize all exiles, including the ones on your team and the Wyrm saluting. That's not a strictly bad thing, mind you: that still is 3 seconds where the only thing that can happen is respawn timers ticking down. If you're facing down a huge horde and only have your wyrm left, why not make a Stunning Claim?
  • Heroic Stand: For my money, though, I'd rather just have my one remaining exile get infinite stamina and a speed boost. Both of these obviously combo with Valiant Return, but coming back instantly, fighting past the enemy, and snagging a quick goal can put your team back on the board too.
  • Seized Chance: And this just makes it even better. If you're really a master of banishing with Wyrms, you'll find them even better at scoring than curs, especially with +10 Pyre damage after a banishment. But again, this REALLY requires you to know how to handle a Wyrm.

Tactics of the Underking:
  • Avenging Aid: Banishing an enemy instantly returns an ally to the field, eh? You might have noticed a theme with Wyrms here: they are all about taking impossible odds and turning them on their head. Phoenix Wright would be proud.
  • Quick Draw: This is a pretty technical move, but still a good one that effectively lets a Wyrm be in two places at once. Sometimes just detonating your Aura-Trail but staying still is better than doing it but setting yourself somewhere awkward.
  • Greater Cleave: It can be difficult for a new player to get any banishments with an Aura-Slash, especially if their Wyrm doesn't quite have the Presence to back up the move. That's what Greater Cleave is for: just helping to make the attack more reasonable (and also stupid jokes, I guess).
  • Vigorous Slash: Whether it hits or misses, now Aura-Slashes also restore your Stamina. This lets you either quickly restore the Aura-Trail for your team to capitalize on, or take the opening from a banishment and run with it!


Tomorrow, I'll be streaming again, at 6PM Mountain Time. I'd really like to have more people there (or posting here, but I'm gonna guess that most people aren't following the thread because they want to play the game unspoiled for themselves).
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