Stories: The Path of Destinies Review

TL; DR(eview) - Part hack-and-slash action title, part choose-your-own adventure, Stories: The Path of Destinies is an enjoyable title centered around its own built-in replay-ability.

Stories: The Path of Destinies puts you in the shoes of Reynardo - a swashbuckling fox - as he is caught up in a rebellion against an evil emperor. Over the course of five chapters, you'll fight through groups of Ravens in combat that feels like the hack-and-slash equivalent of the Arkham games. You can simply slash away, grab and throw, or pull your enemies toward you Scorpion style (even with the occasional meta joke of "Get over here!" thrown on screen). But more often than not, you'll have to counter-attack as other enemies attack from all sides or dash away from the fight to identify a new target and tactic.

Each chapter begins with you making a narrative decision of how you want the story to play out. For example, the first choice you're given is to either seek out and rescue your friend who's being held prisoner or instead to seek out a weapon that might help you in the rebellion. This choice leads you to one of two levels. Even within the levels themselves you can take a variety of different paths across the stage map. Once you've reached the end, you're given the next major story choice and so on until the end of Chapter 5.

At that point, based on the choices you've made you'll uncover a Truth of the game and be sent back to the beginning and encouraged to explore different paths to unlock different endings and different Truths. Only once all four Truths are discovered will the path toward the proper ending become clear. With each playthrough taking about an hour, I found the replay-ability built into the game very satisfying as I enjoyed discovered how different elements of the story would unfold in these different timelines.

As you slash your way through wave after wave of Ravens, you'll gain experience that can be used to level up Reynardo, and certain upgrades will be locked behind the number of Truths uncovered, even if you have ample skill points. You can also collect ores and elemental essences that will allow you to forge and upgrade new swords in battle with their own unique abilities. Outside of battle, these swords can even unlock new paths to explore. Lastly, you'll also unlock a series of gems that can add up to three passive modifiers to your character like physical or elemental resistance or increased attack speed. All of these elements combine to create a wide array of combat approaches to the game's various enemy types.

A final element of note is that the entire story is told in a style reminiscent of an audiobook. Julian Casey plays the Narrator and acts out every other character in Reynardo's story. The writing is crisp and clean and all of the branching paths work well together. The script is also littered with fun nods to other games, movies, and pop culture parlance (like the aforementioned Mortal Kombat reference). Personally, I really enjoyed the variety of comments made toward all of the inanimate objects I obsessively destroyed and the amusing lines uttered when I would get overwhelmed in a fight and die. It's hard to be mad about dying when the game responds with something like "And as he fell, Reynardo whispered 'Rosebud' to nobody in particular."

I found Stories: The Path of Destinies an utterly charming and enjoyable way to spend the odd hour here and there over the past few days that never wore out its welcome over the half dozen or so different story variants I played through.

Stories: The Path of Destinies is available now on PlayStation 4 and PC. For more information, visit the game's website.