Pyre Is A Story Within A Story
HEAR YE, HEAR YE: SPOILERS FOR PYRE AHEAD
Hi, Aimee here!
That’s how I would introduce myself normally. Today, as I write this feature, you will simply call me ‘Aimee the Pyre fan who just won’t shut her damn mouth about it. Like, ever.’ I understand that may be a bit of a mouthful but hey, it would really mean a lot.
Let’s get straight to the point, shall we?
Pyre, Supergiant Games’ latest masterpiece, is one of those games that I sit back every now and then, sigh and say: Pyre is so great and the lore is so good! It deserves a sequel! I would give Supergiant Games’ my kidneys to make a sequel!
Why? Because of one particular character who, not only gives me the heebie-jeebies at the best of times, but also foreshadows an event that is mostly what I’m going to be discussing in this feature.
The One, The Only…
For those who are wondering what the hell they’re looking at, that’s Udmildhe. She’s a bog-crone and she makes all those religious zealots you know seem really friendly and approachable. She’s also known for worshipping Yslach Astral-Born.
Yslach is one of the believed to have been slain Greater Titans. A known monstrosity that even the likes of The Lone Minstrel, Tariq and Celeste (the Gate Guardians that help host the Rites involved in Pyre) shudder at the mention of. Tariq and Celeste’s discomfort of Yslach and why it is particularly poignant is another thing I’ll go further into. For now, I’ll continue on Yslach and their importance in the game’s narrative.
Yslach Astral-Born is significant for many reasons, one reason being that when Yslach was ‘slain’ by the witch of the Eight Scribes, Milithe, the hide and ichor of Yslach was later used to bind the Book of Rites. A very informative and, let’s be real with one another, magical book that the Eight Scribes have written in order to educate triumvirates performing the Rites on the world and their chance for freedom.
The connection between Yslach and the Book of Rites is undeniable. What makes it so fascinating however is the ending of Pyre where the two worlds, the Commonwealth and the Downside are completely sundered from one another. The thing that bounded them is now lost, the reason for the Rites and the Book of Rites has now, quite clearly, lost its meaning.
So where does that leave the Book of Rites and, more importantly, Yslach Astral Born? Why do I believe that Yslach is so significant in Pyre’s future?
Sahrian Union Or Not, Yslach May Still Live On
Udmildhe is, from the narrative’s perspective, a religious fanatic who’s claims are riddled with inconsistencies and a mountain of hypothetical theories that, during the end of Pyre, are discovered to have little to no evidence backing them up.
So, case closed right? Udmildhe’s claims are discovered as nothing but mumbo-jumbo and we can all go home and pretend that the Sahrian Union will be the utopia our beloved friends truly deserved!
I’d like to believe that. But a particular interaction with Tariq, as well as Celeste, the Gate Guardian at Scribesgate, that factors into my disbelief that Yslach Astral Born and the Downside’s connection to the upper world is truly done for.
At one point during the game Tariq pulls you to one side and states, “you would be forgiven if you took the ravings of Udmildhe for mere nonsense. However, her words, as it turns out, ring with a certain truth.” On my first playthrough of Pyre, I was already 100% ready to square Yslach in the goddamn face if she tries to come back from the Pit of Milithe, mostly because I felt that this was foreshadowing Yslach was going to play a part in the game. You can imagine my disappointment when that didn’t end up going anywhere…
But back onto Tariq. He explains to the Reader that Yslach ‘technically’ didn’t die. Yslach feeds upon the world it is a part of, slowly regaining strength until it can be reborn into the horrible monstrosity that the Eight Scribes vanquished many centuries before. So, if you’re wondering how the hell that works, just imagine Yslach as that one big, fat fly that keeps buzzing by your head and you keep swatting it, but it keeps coming back to piss you off and ruin your day. Only Yslach is bigger, meaner and…may come back after a millennium or so.
Look, I didn’t say it needed to be set in the same timeline, now did I?
Celeste also has a fascinating reaction when Yslach is mentioned at Scribesgate, a reaction full of understandable abhorrence and disdain for the Titan. Perhaps even fear.
So if Yslach is set to come back, where does that leave the Downside and the Sahrian Union? Would we even recognize these worlds in the future?
Let’s Get Analytical!
As much as I’d like to imagine this theoretical sequel would be an epic explosion of action between the reborn Yslach, the citizens of both the Sahrian Union and the Downside (now their worlds are once more intertwined) and the player character… I just doubt that’s going to happen.
“But wait a moment, you said you wanted a Pyre sequel!” I DO! Desperately. But let’s face it, challenging Yslach Astral Born to a game of fantasy basketball just doesn’t seem like the kind of thing Yslach might be into when their powerful enough to just feed off the world whenever they want. This is where I hang my head in my hands, sigh and look into the camera like I’m in the office and say “a Pyre sequel may only be do-able with the same world at a different time.” And well, from a narrative point of view I’d argue that the world and lore involved alone would still make it a sequel to Pyre.
However, a lot more goes into a video game than narrative, and I would never want to diminish Supergiant Games team like that to imply differently. So while I truly, deep in my heart of hearts, believe that a sequel to Pyre has massive potential… I also believe that a lot would need to change. That said, the fascinating, intricate lore that Pyre prides itself on would be enough (for me, that is) to get me to play this (very) theoretical sequel, and I’m sure many fans would agree.
So Many Options, So Little Time…
Yet, there are other options too for Pyre if a sequel is in the stars (insert knowing wink and laugh here). Recently Bioware writer Mary Kirby announced she would be writing a book about Varric Tethras and his own book, Hard in Hightown. This news left many Dragon Age fans feeling overjoyed, myself included.
But would the folks at Supergiant Games consider this approach for Pyre? It’s easy to forget sometimes that Supergiant Games isn’t as big as the Bioware studios scattered around because, to be frank, they are just as good. Time is of the essence and who knows what Supergiant Games next move is? It’s way too early to be certain.
So what do you guys think? Is it time that I and other fans let go and allow Pyre to be the masterpiece it is without a sequel being brought in and ruining it? Or do you too believe that the world of Pyre is not done with just yet and are raring to go on that next big adventure?
Let me know in the comments below or feel free to ramble at me on my Twitter account!