Stories: The Path of Destinies
Two of my favourite games are Bastion and Way of the Samurai. Bastion is this great game with a narrator describing everything you’re doing all while you run around shooting and dodging. Way of the Samurai is this great hack and slash game, where the story changes based on your decisions in dramatic ways resulting in one of a number of different endings. If the two games got together and had a baby, it would be something like Stories: The Path of Destinies.
Mechanically it’s partially a role playing game. You’ll equip your character and learn skills as you progress through the game. The combat is action based with there being no ‘best’ way to fight but with plenty of options allowing you to choose how you’d prefer to fight. The enemies of the game come in a variety of forms, giving you a very tactical choice in how you progress through combat. Levels are linear, but with many branching paths that won’t be initially available, requiring you to forge new gear before you can open the gateways to those sections. All of this is stretched over the frame of a storyteller, recounting your tale. The narrator does all the voices for all the characters, feeling like the bits of the movie “The Princess Bride” when the grandfather reads for the characters. These are the Bastion traits of the game.
The game is short, much like Way of the Samurai. A single play might only be an hour long, but upon beating a particular path you will start over and make new decisions. Each subsequent play through includes the knowledge you’ve picked up so far. If someone betrayed you, later narrations (even over the same paths you’ve already taken) will include this information. There are four truths you’ll need to collect (each one it’s own path) to unlock new paths that will take you to the eventual end. That means if you wanted the shortest possible route, you’re going to need to play at least five endings. But there are 21 endings, allowing you to poke and prod the world and the people who live there to discover all you can.
The game isn’t perfect. The furry art style can be off putting for those who do not like that sort of thing. The combat does have an eventual skill cap, which you’ll probably reach by the end of your second play leading to rote combat (although the game is more about story than combat). Having to replay the game means listening to a lot of dialogue and none of it is skippable (or at least, I couldn’t skip anything) which can be quite repetitive. But if all of those things are minor or non-issues and you have a little extra cash, the game is fantastic.