A retro styled side scrolling sci-fi adventure game, The Way is clearly influenced by classics such as Another World and Flashback while adding puzzle solving and companionship in to the mix. This is a game that wants to pull on the players’ heart strings, relying on an emotional story with a mixture of shooting, platforming and a lot of running backwards and forwards in order to solve the many challenges that it presents. The Way is presented with 8-bit retro style visuals that are fairly vibrant and certainly capture the mood of the overall experience and while the visuals aren’t to everyone’s taste, they certainly suit this style of game, although I do feel that there could of been more attention to the overall look adding more detail and a slightly crisper look to it. The vibrant visuals are accompanied by some eerie musical scores that really compliments the mood the game is aiming for.
You take control of a scientist who devoted his life to research on other planets while trying to solve the mysteries of their technology. The game starts off with your character digging up his dead wife in order to take her to another planet, using their technology to bring her back to life. This game is clearly driven by the story and tries hard to portray the emotional side of what the main character is striving for and there are also memories to trigger throughout the game. These memories trigger flashbacks of times spent with his wife and aim to give a backstory and some purpose to the tasks at hand.
The deep and meaningful story that this game tries to portray doesn’t quite meet the heights that the developers are aiming for, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, it just tries far too hard at times. That being said the overall story is quite intriguing and has heart warming moments as you follow this character through his struggles and the torment he is going through after losing his wife. Accompanying the story is a mixture of platforming and puzzles which are essentially the core of the overall experience.
There is some combat involved but there isn’t much overall as there are other tools that take more of a centre stage like a switch trigger, a reflector shield and a telekinesis ability and these are to be used in various scenarios and puzzle situations. The overall gameplay is focused mainly on platforming sections and it is here where the game’s influences mentioned earlier are quite prominent. It captures the essence of the classic Flashback with some solid platforming sections that are both enjoyable and frustrating at the same time, especially when a jump is mistimed.
That isn’t a criticism but rather an assessment of a faithfully captured experience from similar games of old.
The platforming side to this game is where it really stands out especially in areas where you have to figure out your route and one mistimed jump will ultimately lead to you falling to your death. There is also a unique companion that you come across later on in the game that adds a different dynamic to the platforming areas and the bond between you and this creature becomes more prominent as you progress. The shooting mechanic is fairly solid too and is utilised by aiming with the right stick and feels finely tuned, but it can occasionally suffer with being over sensitive when encountering some close combat situations. Movement is smooth and fluid for the most part, except for walking up and down narrow staircases which can feel clunky and doesn’t trigger properly if you are slightly off the centre of them, but these minor criticisms aren’t too much of a hindrance and were things I adapted to and got used to the more I progressed.
The puzzles in this game are both adventurous and unforgiving to say the least. There are some great puzzles in the first half of the game that really test the thinking of the player and are quite clever in their design but there are also some infuriating puzzles in the later stages of the game that take things a little too far in terms of their difficulty. Nearly all the challenges that I was faced with gave no hints on what to do and it’s in the later half of the game in particular that this becomes an issue and unfortunately becomes the games downfall. Some of the puzzles took me quite a while to figure out and while I appreciate a challenge I believe that these later puzzles spoil the game slightly due to the lack of any direction or subtle hints on what needs to be done which is a shame, especially for such an integral part of the overall experience. For a game that does so many things right it is unfortunate that it’s spoilt a little by the developers trying to be a little too clever in there design. Overall though this game is definitely worth a purchase for fans of this genre as all the things it gets right definitely outweigh the few things it doesn’t.