Tyranny: Collector’s Guide Book (2016) by John Helfers

This was a rather enjoyable “guidebook” to a very enjoyable game. I’m a tad confused by the title – calling it a “Collector’s Guide Book” implies to me that’s it’s a strategy walkthrough type of guide. In actual fact, the book is actually what I usually hear called a worldbook or lorebook; writings on the worldbuilding of the fictional universe in question. There’s no actual video game style content in here, nothing about levels or gameplay or anything. Instead, it’s encyclopedia-style writings on the backstory, organisations, characters, magic, and so on, in the world of “Terratus”, that the game “Tyranny” takes place on.

It’s a rather good worldbook. The lore is peppered with textual commentary by some of the game’s characters, which keeps things lively. It’s also written in the style of an in-universe document, so it’s an actual character from the game writing information about the game’s world, rather than an author writing about the game’s backstory in a fourth-wall-breaking way. I liked that approach, as it gave the book that nice touch of immersion.

Along with the text itself, there’s plenty of art, always a big plus when it comes to these type of books. I can’t overstate how much I like the artystle of this game. It’s this lovely mesh of oppressive Bronze Age stylings with colourful mosiacs. A really refreshing shift from the typical medieval Europe visuals most fantasy universes go for.

tyranny-guidebook

As for the lore itself, it’s quite good. The text drags at times, but can you really begrudge a lorebook for infodumping? Terratus is a dismal world, perhaps even dystopic in some ways, but its talented creators over at Obsidian Entertainment didn’t go for cheap grimdark conventions, they made a properly fleshed-out cohesive, interconnected, nuanced world that feels entirely true-to-life despite the fantasy trappings. I’d expect no less from Obsidian, who’ve made a well-deserved name for themselves as being extremely skilled at creating exceptionally strong, believable, nuanced fictional settings that reflect real-world issues well (this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvwlt4FqmS0 – is a great breakdown of them doing just that with “Fallout: New Vegas”).

This isn’t really a book you’d read for its own sake; it exists as supplemental material for the video game. But it’s a good read for any who’d be interested in the game, or lorebooks like this. I give it three edicts, and a mask of Tunon.

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