The Way is an interesting game as far as the story goes. You take on the role of a scientist known as Tom, an intelligent individual who has spent most of his life trying to work out how technology on other planets function. The game starts with quite a morbid pitch, but slowly builds up to something more meaningful and inspiring. We get to witness our protagonist digging up the dead body of his late wife in the hopes of bringing her back to life by using technology from a distant planet. Beforehand, Tom needs to bypass security, steal a spaceship, and make a hasty journey to the planet in question. The fact that the story setup catches you off guard is what gripped me instantly, but that’s not to say that everything in this experience is just as well implemented, because sadly it’s not.
The gameplay mixes together elements of combat and puzzle-solving with some solid platforming mechanics. Unfortunately, only one of these three aspects really stood out for me. I found the puzzle solving side of the game to be The Way’s backbone, with platforming and combat trailing far behind in terms of design and structure. First and foremost, Tom cant jump far without dying, and when you take into account that the game is littered with pesky jumping sections, it rapidly began to piss me off.
Group this with the issue in which pretty much everything you fight will one-hit kill you, and you have a further pain in the ass to contend with. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a challenge, but combat and movement in The Way just doesn’t seem fair. A good platformer knows how to marry combat and movement with decent level design, which is somewhat an absent notion here. On the other hand, The Way looks and sounds amazing. There’s heaps of stunning details throughout the entire journey. The alien planet is very well realised and entices you almost to the point of distraction.
I was constantly mesmerised by how much care and attention has gone into the game on this front, with vibrant pops in both the foreground and background as the two fields bounce off each other extremely well. The surroundings are also quite diverse, treating you to a nice range of different environments and textures as you climb deeper into the adventure. This is all tied together with a solid soundtrack that knows exactly when to grab your attention at all the right times. It’s an atmosphere that stuck with me long after I put the pad down.
The Way does a good job at keeping the plot on a steady wave, with subtle reminders as to why you are where you are via flashback memory collectables. It’s a shame however that for game that offers a decent story with some gorgeous surroundings, there’s far too much backtracking to contend with. This sometimes applies to the puzzles you need to overcome, but for much of the experience, you’ll be moving from far left to far right until your head is ready to explode with frustration. It’s tedious, repetitive, and takes you out of such a well crafted planet.
Most of the puzzles are tricky enough and prove to flesh out the longevity of the game to a good extent. These tend to range from the aforementioned (annoying) jumping puzzles, manipulating objects, code memory, and more. You’ll also be using a set of abilities to aid you on your way through, such as telekinesis. There’s no denying that The Way is a passable experience for those that really crave the theme and genre, but despite the stage-hogging story, there’s just too many tedious moments within to pass this off as a worthwhile adventure. Granted it has its moments, but they’re often short lived.
The Way is a decent game for those that really enjoy the genre, but it certainly doesn’t come without fault. The jumping sections are far too tedious, the constant backtracking gets repetitive, and the combat is very hit and miss. If you can overlook those issues then you may be able to pull more from this than I could. With that said, the story is well structured and feeds you at just the right time. Group that with some excellent visuals and a solid soundtrack, and you’ve got some truly enticing moments to enjoy. It’s just a shame these pros are somewhat weighed down by the frustrating cons.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.