Remember those old Fighting Fantasy adventure books where you’d read a paragraph and turn to a specific page to continue the story? Well, as you can probably guess from the game’s title, this is almost exactly what you’re getting.
And – if we set aside that fact that this game suffers from, among a few other minor gripes, the most generic action-adventure name in the history of games, there’s a charming little gem hidden away right here.
You play Reynardo; a wily fox of a character whose job it is to hack and slash his way through the branching adventure, with the help of a selection of magical swords and various NPC’s, in the hope of defeating an evil Emperor, reuniting with his lady and helping out the rebellion.
The game is framed through the reading of a story book, narrated by the gloriously talented Julian Casey, whereby you choose from various paths at certain points and fight your way through the levels in the hope of achieving one of the 24 different story endings. Most of the story paths end in some sort of disaster for Reynardo, though in a delightful turn of events the pages of the story book flip back to the beginning and you’re invited to try again. You even get to keep whatever skills and weapons you’ve unlocked along your journey.
New paths open up with the unlocking of one of the four different magic swords you can craft, after looting the correct materials from the various locations you travel through. These swords open up different doors that provide shortcuts through levels or open up whole new areas that allow you to hunt for new crafting materials. Defeating enemies also grants you experience points which allow you to build up various skills that will improve Reynardo’s combat abilities.
Throughout your adventures you can uncover four ‘Truths’ which massively improve your odds of finding a ‘happy’ ending to your story.
It’s the sheer amount of branching options that I found refreshing in this game. Too often we’re faced with strictly linear levels, or the exact opposite; a sandbox dotted with a multitude of objectives. Stories: The Path of Destinies actively encourages you to try multiple paths – being the entire point of the experience.
The narrative playfulness of Stories is married perfectly with the beautiful level design. Also, when you know that Stories is made by Spearhead Games, a studio founded by ex-Ubisoft devs, you can’t help but laugh when Reynardo says a floating platform is much easier than free climbing. And it’s these little meta-touches that really bring the game to life. Julian Casey’s pleasant lilt fits the character of Reynardo perfectly, and though snippets of dialogue get reused throughout different tellings of Reynardo’s journey, it never gets old.
Stories ultimately balances action and humour exceptionally well and after unlocking 8 of the endings I know I’ll be returning to the game to root out the rest.
Combat, modelled heavily in the style of the Batman Arkham games, is fast paced and fun – but it does get repetitive and I only wish the developers had added more variety in the enemies you face.
My biggest issue with the game, which I played on PS4, is how loud the console ran while playing. The fan whirred at full throttle, attempting to cool the overheating box, for the entire time I played. Thank the maker for noise cancelling headphones.
Still I certainly didn’t let this put me off and you shouldn’t too. I thoroughly enjoyed my adventures with Reynardo and generic name notwithstanding Stories: The Path OF Destinies is absolutely one of those games you should seek out, particularly if you’re a fan of light hearted, charm riddled action-RPG’s bursting with heart.
Stories: The Path of Destinies, developed by Spearhead Games, was released on April 12th, 2016 and is available on PS4 and PC