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.


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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