When it comes to video games, I am a sucker for a good story and I have always believed video games to be the perfect medium for storytelling. Video games are unique in the sense they are not overly censored and have a distinct ability to, at least for me, to have you invest so much of yourself in a character and connect. This is especially true in games where you are allowed the freedom of choice, to explore different paths and watch the story unfold in exciting ways. Stories: the Path of Destinies fits this description perfectly and is probably one of my favorite games of the year so far.
Stories places players in control of Reynardo, a dashing fox-like hero trying to take down an evil Emperor, bent on taking over the world. How he goes about this mission, and what makes this game so interesting, is the manner in which players try to help him accomplish this goal. After a brief tutorial exposition, players are presented a choice; should Reynardo try to help a friend who’s been captured by the enemy force or should he go after a vital piece of a super-weapon known as the Skyripper? From this first choice, the story begins to unfold and the player is faced with more decisions about how Reynardo should try to save the world. After completing the five levels, the players are brought to face the consequences of their in-game choices and treated to an ending to the story. However, it does not truly end there.
After completing the initial run of the game, one of the four truths is revealed. These truths are, for lack of fancier words, what players *should* have learned from that playthrough. I wont spoil any of the truths but these four facts are what start to lead players to, well, the true ending to the story. As more of the truths are uncovered, Reynardo becomes stronger and the game, dialogue and all, adapts to the uncovered truths as well. It is this dynamic change in the story that makes it so good because it is so unique and interesting.
Gameplay is simple and easy to understand. Players control Reynardo from a top down view and guide him along each level, facing off against various enemies ranging from grunts to floating eyeballs that can obliterate your health in a flash. There is nice mix of enemies so players are forced to mix up tactics, keeping each encounter fresh. Exploration is rewarded handsomely, which is always nice. Players who take the time to look around can find alternate paths, unlockables and even shortcuts.
Combat is fairly simple to get the hang of, with buttons for dodging, grabbing, attacking and special abilities unique to each of the swords that can be unlocked. Each sword can be upgraded twice after collecting the necessary materials, amplifying the unlocked effects. Players are also able to collect and equip special gems that augment Reynardo’s stats, making him stronger, more durable or able to find better loot along with a couple of other fun effects.
As players level Reynardo up, stronger abilities are made available, making combat easier. Unfortunately, I found a bit of an issue with it. Combat within the game itself is fairly easy for anyone with decent reflexes, even when facing off against enemies that require a little more work to kill. Once upgraded, all the enemies are the same and can be cut down in one, maybe two hits, which makes combat a little repetitive as you try to unlock the next truth, or find a new twist in the story.
There weren’t too many issues that I ran into while playing this game. In fact, I really enjoyed my time with it, despite the occasional stuttering or FPS drop. It put a very fun twist into its storytelling and I looked forward to each of my runs, trying to unlock a different path for the story to take. It can get a little tedious at times and once you’ve fully upgraded Reynardo, combat is more of a minor inconvenience than a big part of the game. However, the game is fairly cheap, a lot of fun and definitely worth its $20 price tag.