Our hero in Stories: The Path of Destiniesy is Reynardo, a fox who is a skilled swordsman. This story is unlike any other. What I mean by this is you will have options on what to do, and almost all of them end badly for our protagonist. Rewind to the beginning and start over, being able to choose different paths with the knowledge of your previous peril. You keep everything you ended with, but must find the right path to the story ending in a perfect conclusion. Every time you play through a story, you’ll be stronger during the next and the battles become a bit more intense. There are several skills and upgrades allowing you sort of customize your battle interactions. What kind of hero are you?
Here’s what I liked:
Animal Combat — Another game I can compare the combat to would be games similar to the Batman Arkham games or the recent Assassin’s Creed games. You’re surrounded by a group of enemies and must gain combo points that allow you to pull off quick attacks that unlock other abilities you’ve upgraded. It’s brutally fast at times. There is an awesome hook that you have to pull enemies closer to you. At one time I even heard the character say “get over here” which made me smile. Reynardo says some really funny things while in combat. I enjoyed it immensely.
Story Variety — There are a total of 24 different endings with only one that covers everything in a positive light. As you discover truths (knowing how something will end ahead of time), you can get a few other options you hadn’t had before. What could easily have been screwed up was done with finesse. The narration is near perfection and dialogue is constantly feeling fresh as long as you’re going on different paths every time. You can view your previous playthrough decisions to see what you’ve already attempted. While the actual goal stays the same, there is a spiderweb of ways to reach a conclusion. Yes, you will likely get horrible endings where you die or something ridiculous happens (like you destroy the entire universe), but that’s exactly where the charm lies. It’s an almost dry type of humor infested with sarcasm. I don’t know how they pulled this off, but it was intriguing and funny the entire time.
Keeping What You’ve Earned — As you fail with poor choices you thought were a good idea, you start over with everything you had prior. It’s as if the game never actually ended. You continue on to try again, but you have all of your upgrades. The battles become more fun each time you play, making you feel like a powerful machine during combat. You’re somewhat guided through your choices, as your path will show an exclamation mark for a route you haven’t taken yet (this is shown during the book segment). It made it less frustrating trying to get different endings and is exactly what was needed to hold someone’s interest.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Too Few Enemy Types— There are mostly just crows to fight. A few have shields, and then there are warlocks which have two variants to make fights a bit harder. Other than that, you’re really not faced with anything new throughout the many times you’ll be playing the story. They aren’t even different colors! You might also realize there are no boss battles at all. I would have loved to fight the emperor at the end. Or, at least, different bosses based on the different routes you chose.
Chests Become Useless — Once you’ve upgraded your swords after a handful of story completions, you will have no real reason to get most chests unless you’re desperate for health. With so many playthroughs, it’s a shame looting becomes nonessential. I see the cool-looking sword doors and just skip them now, knowing they’ll just waste my time and give me no real rewards. The only way to fix this would be to have the upgrades cost a lot more or to make even more upgrades. It would have been nice to have some customization, maybe a few different colored outfits that cost currency that you earn from the chests. Instead, that mechanic falls flat very quickly.
Sword Powers — What was a bit of a miss was the powers your upgraded swords wield. While I loved the fact they were different elements and contained their own powers, I never used them besides to heal myself. The magic drained much too quickly and because everything was already pretty easy, they didn’t make a lot of sense to use. If the game was more difficult then I could see using it more in a rough group of enemies. However, you could easily demolish everything with your normal sword attacks and counters.
With lightning-fast combat and clever storytelling that engulfs your interest, Stories: The Path of Destinies is, to a certain degree, incredible. What stops it from being truly great is the lack of content after accomplishing a few of the stories. You end up only having one thing to do which is to grind out the rest of your skills. The game is way too easy for how satisfying the combat is. There are too few enemy types and suffers from improper use of mana for your swords. These minor setbacks take a major toll and slow down the game’s momentum. Besides that, I couldn’t be happier with the story and the way you can “choose your own adventure”. I can’t remember a time I’ve had more fun failing than I have here. Stabbed from a traitor I saved and trusted? No problem, next time I’ll trick them instead! The humor is exactly the type I enjoy the most. This game is by no means perfect but set a pretty high standard in the format they chose to unravel this witty story in.
Score: Highly Recommended
Stories: The Path of Destinies was published by Digerati and developed by Spearhead Games / Nephilim Game Studios on Xbox One. It was released on March 22, 2019, for $14.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.