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The Way Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Even though it suffers from a few frustrating puzzles, I was so wrapped up in the look and the story that I was able to overlook some of the imperfections. The Way offers an emotionally satisfying journey that's filled with unique alien worlds to explore, some clever set pieces and my favorite four-legged video game companion of the year. Sometimes that's all I'm looking for in a side-scrolling adventure game. Rating: 78%
The Way
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
When you lose a loved one, you'll do just about anything to make things right. If you're a typical video game character, this means you go on a hate-filled revenge quest killing everybody in the way. As satisfying as quenching your bloodthirst may sound, the nameless hero of The Way has a completely different plan. Instead of going on a killing spree, he thinks he's found a way to reverse death and make everything right again.

The loved one in question was the wife of our hero. Through flashbacks, we learn about her untimely passing and just how devastating it was to the otherwise stoic space explorer. Unable to let it go, the widowed husband has devoted his time to researching alien secrets that could give the lovers a second chance at happiness. He knows it's a longshot, but will try absolutely anything to bring her back.


This resolve is put to the test in The Way, a game that was clearly inspired by the rotoscoped adventures of the 1990s. I'm talking about games like Another World and Flashback: The Quest for Identity, 2D quests that transported you to alien worlds filled with beautifully animated characters and rich details. The Way ditches the silky smooth animation and dated controls for an emotionally satisfying action/puzzle game where you never really know what's around the next corner.

This is not a 2D shooter, so anybody expecting fast-pact action might as well stick with Contra. First the husband needs to get off the planet, which involves prepping a spaceship and avoiding security. But even after he's charged the ship and collected all of the parts, he'll still need to prove his worth by completing a series of head-scratching puzzles. I'm sure our hero didn't expect the trip to be easy, but I guarantee he had no idea how many brain-teasers he was going to run across along the way.

This is one of those games that gives you a bunch of new powers to play around with and expects you to puzzle your way through some tricky situations. The alien planet is not only filled with buttons and triggers, but also a number of deadly creatures looking to make you a snack. We'll go long stretches without any weapons, so our hero will need to find other ways to take down his foes.

The Way (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It could be my nostalgia for Flashback seeping through, but I was immediately taken by the world created by Puzzling Dream. We're not given lengthy cinemas or even conversations; instead we're left to piece everything together through observing details and reading the widowed husband's inner thoughts. Each part of the game felt different, complete with unique characters and background graphics. It all comes together in a way that kept me engaged from beginning to end.

Part of this is because of the different abilities you pick up along the way. We're able to teleport, bounce lasers off of a shield and even manipulate special objects scattered around the world. All of these abilities are used to solve a series of puzzles, and will eventually become the only thing keeping the husband from certain death. I like how easy it is to switch between these different powers and how each of them plays an important role.

For as compelling as The Way often is, it does suffer from a few poorly conceived puzzles. While none of them are deal-breakers, there are a couple that stick out for all the wrong reasons. It's common to have to repeat puzzles several times before getting it right, but one laser challenge in particular felt needlessly cruel. I ended up wasting close to an hour using trial and error to solve an obtuse puzzle. This was a giant speed bump that nearly lost me, but I was right back in it the moment the action picked up and the twists started flying my way.

The Way (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

A lot of emotion is conveyed through very few words. No matter how frustrating a puzzle got, I was invested in the husband's plight and anxious to see how it played out. And not just that, I also fell in love with my dog-like companion, who ended up being both cute and helpful. Right from the beginning, The Way feels like it's building to something big and important. And while I won't spoil anything, I was pleased with the directions it takes.

A lot of The Way's charm comes from its pixel graphics, which do not skimp on details and flourishes. While it doesn't animate as smoothly as Another World or Flashback, it still offers the same kind of fully realized alien world. There are scenes in this game that are so haunting that I suspect they will stick with me for years to come. No matter what you think of some of the puzzles, there is no doubt that the throwback visuals are gorgeous.

Even though it suffers from a few frustrating puzzles, I was so wrapped up in the look and the story that I was able to overlook some of the imperfections. The Way offers an emotionally satisfying journey that's filled with unique alien worlds to explore, some clever set pieces and my favorite four-legged video game companion of the year. Sometimes that's all I'm looking for in a side-scrolling adventure game.
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