REVIEW # 00000000 01010011
Without death, life loses its meaning
My heart says…
There are games you fall in love with the first time you see an image. The Way Remastered with its wonderful visuals and a big world to explore went straight to my heart. I didn’t know that much about the story but I immediately wanted to play with it and I’ve been lucky enough to find it on the eShop at the super discounted price of 0,99€. It’s almost a shame that games like this are so cheap.
Before starting the game I knew I would cry.
And I did.
The reason why I knew I would cried. The opening sequence shows a man, devastated by the loss of his wife, bent on her grave just after her funeral and soaking wet for the intense rain. The scene, already sad per se, has a magnificient music (music is one of the best features of the game) that adds sadness to sadness and set the mood for the first part of the game. The menu is essential so you can focus on the background image, a true piece of art.
The Way Remastered is pure pixel art and it’s an orgasm for all the people who love retro-inspired games. It looks like you’re playing an old DOS game of the 90s and the gameplay follows what visuals show. Despite the detail level is, of course, limited, the care with which the artists created the different places in which the game takes place is really remarkable.
There’s pleasure and pain about the plot of the game.
There’s no actual introduction that can explain what we’re going to see and everytime you face a puzzle or a new chapter you start with no clues and you are only guided by your intuition. You don’t even know where and when the story is set, you don’t know why your wife has dead and why the protagonist think he can bring her back to life. In no time you’re thrown in a futuristic facility wondering around trying to accomplish the mission you’re assigned to you have almost no infos about.
Proceeding with the game the situation becomes more clear even though black spots still remain. However soon enough you almost forget your real goal – resurrect your wife – since you’ll be busy trying to solve the puzzles that comes to you with no introduction and almost no sense whatsoever.
Having said that, the game in its final part reveal its true nature. All of the story and the plot revolves around the struggle between accepting the loss of a person you love and the irrational will to have him/her back. The aliens in the very last scene of the game present their quest to the protagonist: he can choose to live forever with his wife translating his conscience into a computer (so living a lie, a fake eternity) or finally understand that the meaning of life is in death and he only has to “let her go”. You can choose one or the other ending and luckily enough to see them both you can just go back to your last saved state before you make a decision.
The saddest part however is the death of Tincan. I knew developers would have been so evil to kill him but througout all the game I simply refused the idea and I’ve come to the last part of the game with the hope that maybe he could have survived.
Is the death of Tincan what developers wanted us to “teach”, to understand that the meaing of life is death, like for ther wife of our protagonist?
*END OF SPOILER*
The Way is the son of the old 2D platformers of the 90s but mos of all is the son of the great Delphine games: Antoher World and Flashback. From the former inherited the sad atmosphere, the wonderful futuristic and extraterrestrial setting (aalso the aspect of the companion Tincan is very similar to one of the beasts of the Another World universe) and the sci-fi feel, while from the latter (passing from other games like Prince of Persia) got the platormer sould, the puzzles and the overall graphics.
This means that if you were born at least in the 80s and you have experienced one of these games you’ll have a sensation of deja vu and this is not necessarily a bad thing. The developers behind The Way tried to give more depth to a genre, ther platform, that usually doesn’t lay that much on the importance of the backstory and in this we have to give credit to Puzzling Dreams.
Unfortunately sometimes the game stands in a limbo, trying to be both easy-to-use platformer and adventure with a sort of philosophical nature and the two aspects are never completely merged together but they tend to stay separate. The emotional intro and the first step we take in the game suffer from that gloomy atmosphere that, of course, surround the death of a loved person. While the protagonist walk through the dark and empty rooms of his house where everything has remained untouched since the departure of his loved wife: the bed is still unmade, the studio is a mess, a lot of papers and photos of the times spent together still lie on the desk and as you pass them by a sad description comes on screen – the picture of the two lovers together with the description “Us…” and “Bed without her…” with the sad background music is like a stab in the heart.
As the game proceeds this sad atmosphere is quickly wiped out and the puzzle-platformer nature of the game comes afloat at the point that after hours spent solving puzzles you completely forget what is the goal of the game: explore an alien planet where is supposed to live a superior intelligence that has the secret for the eternal life.
The puzzle are not so diffucult per se, but the problem is that no explication is given so you don’t really know how to solve them and, ultimately, you don’t even know why you’re solving them. These puzzle section that are roughly 90% of the games are accompained by pure platformig sections in pure Prince of Persia style (the way the protagonist dies on the spikes is exactly as in PoP) where you need pixel perfect jumping (and no, you can’t control your jump while in air).
You don’t have special “power-ups” or weapons: you just stumple into 2 diffenrent guns througout all the game and you just use them for a very limited amount of time. the real “weapon” is your sphere that you can use to teleport, to activate specific terminals or switches, a shield you can use to protect yourself and to delfect/mirror enemies bullets or lasers (and it will be also useful in some parts of the games when you have to “play” with light and lasers) and telekinesis.
Deep in the heart, The Way is a platformer and there are a lot of parts where you need pixel perfect jumping. Luckily you have infinite lives so you start over where you were before you died (and this makes the game so short). However if you play a platformer on a Nintendo console you expect A is for jumping and B for action but this time is the other way round and that makes me crazy. Half of the times I’ve died is because I pushed A instead of B to jump. In general the controls are quite responsive even though the developers should have probably smoothen a bit the overall scheme since sometimes when you need to be fast and precise, jumping from one button to the other could be a bit complicated and when you have to aim and shoot it’s easy to miss the target due to the analog too/too little responsive, but I can’t really complain because the gaming experience doesn’t suffer that much.
This is by far the best part of the game, even superior to the already wonderful graphics. The musical score can be listened as an extra directly from the menu and it’s an experience I strongly recommend; it’s made by Panu Talus and it’s clear he put a great effort in it. All of the tracks are testament of love ad they suit to the game like a hand and a glove. Listening to them in-game is way better because the game helps create the righ mood for the music and the music is like a description of the game. However if you’re busy to dodge enemies or solve puzzles probably you won’t fully appreciate the score and that’s the reason why you should listed to the music separately.
Probably the only flaw of an otherwise great game. The Way Remastered is a rather short game. Ok, I was so deep into it that my usual session lasted between 4 and 6 hourse but I’ve completed it in just 3 days and it has no replayability because the story is linear and you have no way to change something. Consider also that the game is rather easy since you have all the time you need to think about the puzzles and to solve them and if you die you spawn again a few steps before the place you died.
Plus it’s a game “closed” to any kind of sequel: the story ends with the end credits, the protagonist has already faces its decision (live al let die or living forever in death) so a further chapter would been “weak” at least in the plot.
Even though I’d like one more where I can resurrect Tincan…:'(
Final Score 84/100
Developer: Puzzling Dreams
Genre: Adventure, Platform
Game Mode: Single Player
Original Platform: Nintendo Switch
From the same developer
- The Way (2016)
From the same publisher
- Escape Doodland (2018)
- 911 Operator (2018) and sequels
- Earthworms (2018)
- VSR (2018)
- Bouncy Bob (2018)
- Another World (1991)
- Flashback (1992)
- Heart of Darkness (1998)
If you liked it you can also try:
- CounterSpy (2014)
- Planet Alpha (2018)