I do find that DLC for RPGs offer so much room to tell the tales that would not have fit in the base game or to learn from prior failings. Fallout: New Vegas‘s Dead Money would have felt abrupt at best if it was part of the main story due to its unrelated narrative and its setting-specific mechanics. In a similar way, The Following felt like a perfect addressing of all the ills of the main Dying Light campaign, including a fitting ending that felt both bold and tragic. So I was curious to see what Bastard Wound would offer to Tyranny if it would inject new life or fix the old ills. Unfortunately, Bastard Wound sits stagnant and festering, struggling to justify its existence or price-point.
Bastard Wound, as well as a way to refer to a swollen ear given by a random drunk, is the first DLC for Tyranny. While it does offer companion quests for Barik, Verse, and Lantry (also known as the top three party members, you know it to be true), I’ll be focusing on the new area offered. The reason for this focusing down is for three reasons:
The main DLC meat is the new area provided. While the companion quests appear to be the garnish to the meat.
Upon research, Barik has two quests and Verse has one, all three are focused on going to different areas talking to people (The Weight of Aegis, Never Free and The Fire Inside). Lantry’s is focused on searching a dungeon for items (Truth and Reconciliation). Only Barik looks to offer some real noticeable character change. This is my roundabout way of saying “they are minor to what is £10.99 DLC”.
Despite being promised to be able to access the companion quests prior to the end-game (via press e-mail, rather than the usual press communication method of dead-drops in a desert), I could not trigger them. I managed to trigger the new area, but not the companion quests starting.
So, since they’re minor and inaccessible without either some save data manipulation or major time spent, I thought I’d plunder the main bounty. After all, this new zone will be what people will be wanting to put down their hard potentially-blood-stained cash on the counter for.
The new zone is the aptly named “Bastard Wound”. It is a small settlement set beneath the Oldwalls. Assuming you don’t just purge everyone for breaking Kyros’s will or for harboring heretics to Kyros’s reign, you discover the town is being torn apart by inner conflict.
Now, I want to try an exercise. I would like you to guess the conflict, with consideration it is Tyranny.
…Got it? We’ll say it at the same time, to see if it matches. On 3. 1…2…
…Disfavoured vs Scarlet Chorus.
Well, okay, maybe I’m being a little cruel. With the settlement facing attacks from banes and the water being toxic, two people have risen up as possible leaders: the master of knapping, Jaspos, and the tidecaster Wagstaff. The former has a Disfavoured-aligned lieutenant and Wagstaff has an ex-Scarlet Chorus as his assistant. As someone who had hoped Tyranny would stop banging the Disfavoured vs Scarlet Chorus drum, I was frustrated to see signs of the warring sides remerge like a bad rash.
Except there are some indications of breaking off, as there is a third option dangled in front of you: An unaligned beastwoman. One whom has stormed into the depths below. “Well, okay, just support Disfigured/Scarlet Fever and get going then?”. Well, it isn’t that simple as there lies a rough reason why the beastwoman needs to be found and taken back dead or alive. So she’s still on the table as a potential choice.
…Except for all the attempts at characterization, it’s like picking your favorite toe-nail not to tear off with pliers. The Dismayed and Scalextric Chore leaders offer themselves up as power-hungry, manipulative and offering no positive elements. The beastwoman, while an option, is as compelling as other beastmen/beastwomen are: Barely, excluding Kills-In-Shadow. While the other sections in the core game offered an idea to root behind, people to empathize with and choices to sweat over the consequences of, Bastard Wound offers nothing in this department.
At the core of it, Bastard’s Wound‘s writing is bland. It is the narrative equivalent of dry bread and muddy water, something that makes it hard to care about if choices have a lasting impact or not. This writing is something I am surprised to see come from Obsidian Entertainment, who even when they’re phoning it in provide at least a character or two to rally behind or a story to ponder over. They forgot that what made Tyranny interesting is that while everyone was an arsehole, they also had their good well-meaning points. The beastwoman from before represent the only sign of this, and even then it feels merely satisfactory.
“Well, okay, the narrative isn’t too great, but what about gameplay? Did they fix that?”. In a word, no. Rather than proposing an unique mechanic to toy with or a change of environment, it’s the same old dungeon crawl with exploration demands and same old enemies (i.e. bane and humanoids, sometimes at the same time) who still require a heavy dose of DPS. Especially towards the end of the game, when I was doing it, combat was roughly as exciting, tense and captivating as cleaning a floor of dried toothpaste.
The final score of Bastard Wound is an apathetic 5/10. Sadly, Bastard Wound falls into the trap of providing more content that doesn’t spice things up. It doesn’t provide any fresh new gameplay opportunities, environments that provide something new or narratives unlike anything in the base game. The closest to something fresh is the short companion quests that, I admit, I was unable to access.
“Okay, so that’s something fresh, what’s the problem?” is something potentially dancing on your lips like Ian Curtis from Joy Division. Well, the price point is the problem. It is very hard to justify buying this DLC for the main Bastard Wound quest (which is the video game equivalent of eating diluted porridge), and paying £10.99 for three companion quests is absurd. So unless if you really need more Tyranny in your life, perhaps leave this Bastard of a Wound to heal on its own.
A Steam Review copy of Tyrrany and the Bastard Wound DLC was provided by Paradox Interactive for the Purpose of this Review
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