During PAX I went hands on with Stories: The Path of Destinies not far from where I visited the team behind the Repopulation on floor six of the Washington State Convention Center. Stories is an ARPG currently under development by Montreal based studio Spearhead Games for release on the PS4.
With a name like Stories, and the tagline, “every choice has it’s story, every story has it’s hero, what kind of hero are you?” it should come as no surprise that Stories is heavily invested in its narrative. You take on the role of Reynardo, a sky corsair that is the last remaining member of the vanguard. It is Reynardo’s duty to hold off the imperial fleet that is attempting to conquer the realm. The realm consists of a series of floating islands. In the demo I played you could initially choose to go to one of three islands. After completing that island you branched out and had to choose between one of three follow up islands. I was then presented with a third selection of three different islands. In total there were 9 islands but you could only go through 3 per play through. You were also unable to double back and go to a previous island due to pressure from the imperials. This demo was created specifically for PAX and Jessica, from Evolve PR, informed me that there were 27 different endings based upon the choices you made as you played through the short demo. That’s a lot of different endings for a demo.
The characters in Stories are anthropomorphic animals that look like they would be at home in a children’s fairy tale. The protagonist, Reynardo, is a fox. Don’t let the cutesy graphics fool you, however. They belie a game that deals with choices that have serious consequences. Depending on what you decide to pursue you can inadvertently allow your childhood friends to die while you are off trying to recover mysterious artifact that can power a weapon so powerful it can change the tide of war.
Something I like to to look for early on in a games development is how the player characters handle. I prefer a game plays well more than it look good. It’s easier to update the art in a game later on in development than it is to rework the underpinnings of the game’s engine. I’m happy to say that the characters handled well and it was combat was smooth yet rewarding and it was also relatively easy to pull off combos. This isn’t a precision fighter such as Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat but you are going to spend a lot of time in combat. While you are fighting waves of monsters you can grab individuals and use them as body shields.You can also stun enemies and quickly shift your focues to the next monster in line.
The game wasn’t all combat. There were also a number of puzzles to figure out on each island. Typically each puzzle involved a maze that was patrolled by a hard to kill monster that illuminated a 90 degree area in front of them. As long as they didn’t see you, you were good to go. You would then typically have to find a series of switches while trying to avoid detection.
While the system was not present for the demo I asked the developers about the character development portion of the game. During the play through my character would gain experience and level. Each time he gained a level he would be presented with three choices on what to improve. He could only improve one of them and it wasn’t always the same three choices. They said in addition to this there would be some type of UI that allows for you to choose and improve certain abilities. Something that was in the game was the narrator. It was my favorite feature of the game that provided color. With quick wit and sarcasm in spades the narrator provided comic relief at Reynardo’s expense.
It took me roughly 20 minutes to make my way through the demo. I had watched a person play through before me and decided I wanted to go a different route than they did. I choose to collect the items to create a weapon that would defend the islands from the imperial armada. In doing so I didn’t rescue my friends and they were killed. I had no idea this would be the outcome based upon my choices but sometimes sacrifices have to be made!