PAX South: Spearhead Games Have their Stories Straight

This one has been under the radar for me, and that’s a darn shame. Getting hands on with Spearhead Games’ Stories: The Path of Destinies has shown me that I haven’t been paying attention to a unique, deep and entertaining action/RPG with branching plot paths.

Stories stars Reynardo, an anthropomorphic fox who is somewhat of an anti-hero. The game begins as he is sucked into some dire circumstances. A deranged emperor (not the one of black metal fame) is terrorizing the populace and Reynardo is now a part of the rebellion through a series of mishaps. On top of that, his untrustworthy friend, bunny-man Lapino, was kidnapped. From the outset, I was provided a choice: rescue Reynardo or go after a gem piece that can power a weapon in the fight against the emperor. I chose bunny-bros before decimating foes and started a level proper.

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Upon entering the mission, the striking graphical style stood out immediately. Filled with bright colors, lush foliage, and beautiful design, the landscapes have an almost water color painted feeling to them. Spearhead set out to make a gorgeous game and did so with gusto.

After some wandering around and upgrading my weapons, I got into the “action” part of action/RPG. This isometric brawler has taken the fight system from Rocksteady’s Arkham games and simplified the controls without diluting the action. The attack and counter button are now one and the same. Instead of tapping a different button to perform the action, the player needs to tilt the stick in the general direction of the intended target and hit attack. On paper, this sounds like a potential disaster. In practice, it works marvelously. I was able to strike, counter, set my sword aflame, and destroy the opposition with very little acclimation time. Once I stopped playing like it was Diablo and handled it correctly, the beat downs that I was dispensing were really satisfying.

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Even if there was no loot and upgrade system, I would be satisfied with the mechanics, but those are in here too. There will be different types of weapons to collect and upgrade, each with their own abilities. Reynaldo can also earn skill points that can be spend on additional perks to even the odds as he battles his way through the game.

The most interesting part of this upcoming title is the true branching plot paths. Each choice leads the player down a unique plot that will eventually end in a different place. These paths will have different tones. Some will be funny, some tragic, some romantic and all of them magic. Unlike the fantastic Telltale games, the choices the player makes will not all lead to the same point in the plot. The paths do not fold over on each other. While some of the same stages may be used at different points, why the player is there will be different. All told, there will be over twenty unique tales to be experienced in this title. For players who want to see them all, character levels and equipment will carry over to the next play through.

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I am really looking forward to spending more time with this title when it releases to PlayStation 4 later this spring. It hits all of the right notes for me and I can’t wait to spend some time being foxy. Heaven knows that I’m not so much in real life.