Choice. How often do we hear this word and wonder exactly how much of this famous word will actually affect the outcome? With a total of twenty-five endings to be had through various decisions and gameplay paths, Stories: The Path of Destinies truly offers choice in one of the best narratives that involves the famous groundhog day effect.
Narrated in third person, Stories follows the “would” be adventures of Reynardo as he makes decisions that could very well shake the fabric of the universe or simply end his life short. Unlike the grand epicly-lengthed RPGs in which choices are only fully realized thirty, forty, or fifty hours in, Stories instead takes anywhere between thirty minutes to an hour and a half in order to experience an ending. Not every ending is a happy story with some honestly playing the heart strings harder than others. Alright fine, I have to be honest, most endings are not happy endings but there are some that are simply more brutal on the heart’s strings than others making Stories more often than not a Tragedy worthy of some of the greats.
What makes each playthrough even better than the last is that Reynardo remembers what happens for good and for bad what happened in the “alternate” timelines. This information can open up new paths as there are certain events that could technically be avoided as there is now a well of information that he can draw upon to make upcoming decisions. Only ever adding to everything are the intonations that are used by the narrator which follow along the choices that are made. Remorse, Anger, Bloodthirstiness, Curiosity, and more are all used through the telling of events. With all the narration of the main events and dialog there are also small notes to actions being taken such as smashing pots, swinging a sword at nothing more than the air, and hook shooting around the maps. Not adding anything more to the storyline, these lines are amusing and more often than not are pop culture or geeky references such as needing to build additional Pylons in order to hookshot some more.
As it has been a while since Reynardo has been in the field his skills are a bit rusty and will take some time in order to come back to him and he re-acquires experience. Levels can be gained by experience received in combat and then spent at Altars that are placed around each location. As his experience comes back to him, Reynardo becomes more adept in his ability to survive and various forms of combat all the while increasing his exploration skills.
Starting off with nothing more than his sword it soon comes to light that it will not be enough in order to move forward. Finding an upgrade cart that someone simply left lying around with all of the required tools it becomes quickly put to use in order to create a Hero Sword before moving on a Fire (Firestorm), Ice (Winterthrorne), and Wind (Void Blade) equivalents. Each blade affects combat with their own magic abilities that can be used in order to gain an extra edge. Used both against enemies and doors that need to be unlocked alike, exploring in order to build each element is worthwhile as it unlocks both different exploration paths as well as chests that provide more materials for the higher leveled upgrades and gems in order to equip to change the playing field one last time.
Up to three gems can be equipped in Reynardo’s gauntlet at a time. The power of these gems allows Reynardo to take less damage both magically and physically to finding more treasure or bashing the shields right out of the hands of his enemies. Alongside increased attack speed, being able to break shields instead of requiring to rip them out of enemy hands with the ever useful hookshot, higher treasure finding probability, and energy on kill there are more than enough options to mix and match to make things work in our Hero’s favor. Each gem has three levels to their abilities and can be leveled up simply by finding another gem of that type.
With how spectacular everything looks from a graphical standpoint and how amazing everything sounds from an audible one, there are a few minor issues that can creep up some ways into the adventure from a performance perspective. Frame Rate can crumble every now and then and surprisingly enough not where I would have expected it to. It just happens while exploring an area and then disappears just as quickly. It doesn’t affect the overall but is more of a very minor nuisance when simply running through an area. Short of that the only other thing would be that Reynardo can sometimes get stuck close to a ledge which requires a bit of a shake of the thumbstick in order to break him loose and continue.
With all of the endings available on Reynardo’s adventure there is only one true ending which requires for all the “right” choices to be made. To do this several playthroughs will be required in order to obtain all the information that is necessary to make this said choice. It is possible to do it by the fifth time around if you were indeed that lucky to follow at least one possibility in the four overarching paths possible. I personally obtained this ending on my seventh playthrough as I tried different choices in a path that I had already attempted to see what other outcome was possible. The reward for obtaining this end is already worth in regards to the actual tale however the in-game bonus provided from that point forward only makes obtaining the rest of the paths that much easier. Also aiding in obtaining the other endings is that once all the swords are fully upgraded and all the gems have been leveled up then a lot of the side areas are no longer as required in order for exploration as Reynardo already has everything that he needs bringing a path of the story down to twenty or thirty minutes depending.
Stories: The Path of Destinies is amazing. Even with the lack of a skip function in certain cases listening to the narrator never gets old with that smooth and suave voice that may sometimes forget that he’s narrating and not talking about the moment itself.
Article by Pierre-Yves