Platform: PC, PlayStation 4
Release Date: 12 April 2016
Developer: Spearhead Games
Gone are the days, it seems, of the anthropomorphic videogame protagonist. Where once there was Crash, Ratchet, Gex and Sonic now there is only…well, technically, Ratchet, who came back recently, and of course Sonic is still there, we’d all rather just pretend he’s not. Regardless, a game with a sly ex-pirate fox saving the world from an evil toad emperor sounds like it’d be just about right for a nostalgia trip. And whilst Stories: The Path of Destinies is certainly that, it’s also so much more.
As I said, you are the ex-pirate Reynardo who is part of a rebellion. Things are dire; the emperor’s Raven Legions are closing in on the secret base, and you are seeking out a secret weapon, something that will be a game changer. Different options stand before you. Should you seek out the ‘Sky Ripper’: a weapon used by the ancient transcendent emperor to banish the old gods? Or perhaps you should collect the ‘Iblis Stone’ from its recently risen temple: a jet black gem of incredible power. Then again, your old friend Lapino has sent you word that he is in dire need. Can you really leave him to die at the hands of the ravens? I want to try and avoid spoilers, but let’s just say you’re not going to succeed on your first try. But it’s how or perhaps why you fail that will let you push on in the next playthrough.
The story is told by an incredible narrator. Whilst the childish swashbuckling fantasy of the story is nostalgic enough, it is the narrator that really takes me back. Back to the old audio books that I’d listen to until the tape wore thin and snapped. He does all the voices, makes little quips on whatever it is you’re doing and tells the story in a childishly magical way. The narrator really is the stand-out star of the whole thing.
The rest of the game is perfectly competent. The combat is relatively simplistic with just enough stuff to keep it interesting. There is enough of a crafting system that exploration is well worth it but not strictly necessary. Some might say that the game is too simplistic, but to me it was just what I was looking for. Something that was easy to play (having just come from beating Dark Souls III) and enjoyable. It’s certainly not something you’ll struggle with, and yet it’s not quite a kids’ game.
With some 25 or so potential endings there’s lots of playability, but unless you’re an absolute completionist you’ll have seen most of the main stuff in about 6/7 hours. Playing this game – acquired for free as a review copy – was frankly magical. And yes, it’s a huge nostalgia trip for me, but that really doesn’t take away from the simply brilliant game the devs put together here. This is a game that I really can’t recommend enough. I understand that it’s not going to hit the same chords with everybody, but I think you’d really be missing out if you didn’t pick this game up.