If you could go back and alter the course of your destiny armed with the knowledge you have now, what would you change? Stories: The Path of Destinies presents that same question over and over. You start out as a fox named Reynardo who’s an airship captain for the Rebellion, a little army trying to overthrow the evil toad emperor. When your journey starts you’re given three choices to choose from including saving an old friend or setting out to unearth an ancient weapon that wields immense power. The choice is yours.
But you’re going to die.
And that’s the beauty of Stories. Each play through from start to finish is about an hour to an hour and a half long and it will take you multiple runs until you find the true hero’s ending. As you progress you’ll eventually unlock the four truths, as they’re called, which will guide you to the true ending. Each time you stumble across a situation you can refer back to your book to see what choice you made prior and try something different. In the beginning Reynardo doesn’t remember basic moves or what the hell is going on but as you play through you’ll level up and unlock tiered skill trees and abilities like your grappling hook. You can allocate the points any way you want to suit your play style. Personally, I maxed out Reynardo’s health along with the ability to slow time which helped to pull off massive combos. I also opted to upgrade my grappling hook to not only get me from point A to point B, but also to deal damage to enemies and remove their pesky shields. Throughout your journey you’ll also discover chests conveniently scattered throughout the worlds that come in two flavors—red and blue. Red chests hold gems and elemental fragments while blue chests contain ore and health or energy.
What are these used for you ask? Well, there is more than one sword in the game, each having a varying special ability including being the literal key to opening corresponding doors. You begin with the hero’s sword (my personal favorite) which (A) is green (my favorite color) and (B) has the ability to heal our sly hero. In order to progress through other elemental doors you’ll need to craft their respective swords by gathering and combining the elements and ore. Once created you can switch to your new sword at any time and unleash it’s power which might be a fire attack or the ability to freeze enemies with ice. These abilities consume energy that requires energy orbs to use. The gems you’ll find can be equipped up to three at once and will grant you passive abilities like dealing more damage or replenishing a little energy after each kill.
By the time I was nearing the end of Stories I had crafted and maxed out every sword and I was feeling like a badass. The more you play through the stronger you will become and the stronger your enemies will become as well. You’ll also remember the truths you learned and this will allow new choices to appear for future playthroughs. Part of the fun, other than the enjoyable combat, was dying in the dumbest and most humors of ways.
One of the things I loved most about Stories was the exceptional narrator who would inventively change his voice for each character in the same way a parent would as they tell their child a bedtime story. It was really quite unlike any other game I’ve played in that regard. He was also reactive to what was happening on screen similar to another great game Bastion, although it wasn’t done to quite the same effect. The worlds are varied and while they may be somewhat similar in structure, I still found them enjoyable. The visuals are painterly and felt authentic to the storybook feel the team at Spearhead Games were going for.
Not everything was perfect I’m afraid. I did have to restart from my last checkpoint a few times whether it was because I got stuck in the world’s geometry or because the map simply failed to load the next area. There was also the occasional pot that would take more than a few swings with my sword to break and while each ending was different, their beginnings were largely the same. That last reason was why I could only play Stories for at most two or three runs at a time without growing tired of the same intro. Regardless, I felt myself itching to play the next day for a few more runs to see more stories unfold. I feel like these are all minor nitpicks and didn’t detract much from my overall enjoyment with the game.
If, like me, you grew up when choose-your-own-adventure books were all the rage primarily thanks to Goosebumps, then Stories: The Path of Destinies is a game you’ll likely enjoy and shouldn’t pass up. It has minor flaws, sure, but damn it if isn’t fun, witty, and different from what’s largely out there now. You can buy it for Windows PC on Steam as well as the Humble Store along with other digital stores on the game’s website. If you’re more of a console guy or gal like me you can pick it up on the PlayStation Store for PS4. Either way the game is $14.99 and worth every penny.