Stories: The Path of Destinies, is a fantasy action-RPG that involves an enchanted storybook filled a variety of characters and a lively narrator who dictates the story based on the player’s decisions.
You play as Reynardo, former sky pirate and the unintentional hero of this narrative, whom unwittingly finds himself as the last line of defense against a mad Emperor and his legion of ravens. Each decision you make will lead Reynardo into a unique narrative and consequently, a unique ending. There are a total of four truths you must uncover, and twenty-four endings to discover before Reynardo can unlock the ‘true’ ending to this tale.
[Edit: Turns out as long you have uncovered the four truths, you can unlock the true ending without needing to unlock all other possible endings. Wish I had known that before]
This game will have it all! Ranging from: a compelling story, a touch of romance, betrayals, adventure, action and a dash of humor for good measure. Despite the tongue-in-cheek humor and puns (oh god, the puns), some of your decisions will not come easy as you must always make some form of sacrifice as a result of a decision. You may choose to retrieve an ancient weapon lost to time, at the cost of a friend. Even though Reynardo has the weight of the world on his shoulders as a result, it is a good thing he can always go back in time after learning from his mistakes eh?
Besides the major narrative changing decisions you must make at the end of each chapter, there are smaller decisions you need to make. These smaller decisions often influence the route you ultimately take to your goal. The major decisions will often reveal new information about Reynardo’s relationships to his allies or enemies. I would recommend keeping a pen and paper nearby, or at least have a form to keep track of what paths you already taken. It does get rather easy to confuse which story branches/endings you unlocked already or not. Especially if you are trying to go for the ultimate ending.
While the game has four unchangeable ‘truths’ for you to unlock, the information garnered from those endings can lead the player to make better decisions. Or unlock new environments so you do not move through the same area numerous times. Although….you will be revisiting many of those areas without fail.
Gameplay-wise, it does feel like your typical hack-and-slash game with RPG elements. The combat is performed smoothly where you can attack many enemies at once and block incoming attacks with ease. Once you get the hang of the combat system, the enemies will get less chances to hit you, but they will get stronger and diverse as you unlock each truth. Personally, I enjoyed the combat system and its smooth execution immensely. Definitely one of the smoother combat systems I have ever seen in a game. You also have skill trees which can be used to increase stats such as health or improve your effectiveness in combat.
As you progress through the game, you collect elemental essences and ores whether it is from killing enemies or looting chests. Or in my case, both of those and running around smashing pots because I could. Could not resist smashing the pots. Moving on, in Stories’ you can craft four unique swords with their own special ability. These swords however, can act as a key to unlock special doors which will lead to either a new path or treasure. The swords have a magic bar which drain while using the sword’s special ability, and refill slowly over time.
It is always worth exploring those new routes since there is a high probability of finding treasure chests with gems. Gems have three tiers which upgrade their special effect. Effects can include breaking shields off shield bearing enemies, quicker attack speed and much more. Those gems can be a life-saver, I highly recommend getting and equipping the shield-breaker gem as soon as possible. Makes combat against those enemies so much easier, not even kidding. Those enemies were a pain in the butt till I got that gem.
Admittedly, it took a while to remember that I could not use either the WASD or arrow keys for movement, instead I had to hold the right mouse button down and move the mouse. Then mixing that up, believing right mouse button was block. However, I prefer keyboard and mouse over the controller in general so it is entirely possible that playing with the controller would be easier. I just wish you could change the key bindings to suit your playing style, but once I got used to the controls, nothing could stop me!
Stories: Path of Destinies is not a short game by any means. It depends on how thorough you want to be in exploring along with the replay value of the game, in terms of unlocking other endings. Unlocking the other endings will feel like a massive grind-fest, especially if you are also trying to unlock your skill trees completely as leveling up will become harder. Nevertheless, Stories’ has a fantastic story and tons of fun to play, even the puns were funny. However I noticed that enemies have a hard time bumping up the difficulty for you despite diversifying their ranks.
The game is not perfect as I experienced a few glitches where I would end up being stuck inside the scenery and not being able to escape. Those were the painful moments, otherwise usually you can unstick yourself. While I enjoyed the concept of going back to the beginning of the book to restart the story, it does get tedious, as soon you seen everything and know every little secret. Soon it was just me doing a speed-run from the fastest routes I knew from point A to B to get my new ending unlocked. The levels just felt so long after that.
Stories: Path of Destinies is a game with heavy focus on the story with a phenomenal combat system. Heck, I would recommend this game alone for trying the combat system. The art is beautiful with its bright yet moody palette. Ignoring the one glitch I fell afoul of a few times, the game is bug-free. High replay value as well. Now if I can just unlock that true ending some time soon, I would be a happy person indeed.