Set in 1936, run-based, turn-based strategy Pathway captures the true, pulp, derring-do spirit of adventure.
Pathway, from Robotality (Halfway) and publishers Chucklefish, is a turn-based strategy RPG where you control a small team of adventurers as they attempt to both rescue their friend and foil the plans of occult-seeking nazi troopers. It has a lot of compelling things going for it and is really starting to look like the evolution of several genre ideas into something special. Its setting, a wartime adventure setting, is one rarely trod in games; its tight, small-scale, turn-based combat and perk-led event system feels refined and dynamic; and its beautiful visual effects beg you to enter as many encounters as possible, removing the sometimes numbing effect many run-based games’ maps give.
Each generated campaign starts with you selecting a couple of heroes to take off on your adventure to save a friend. The selection is vast, each with their own biography, abilities, equipment and skill trees. The variety is immense, with some characters heavily leaning toward brutal melee while others can buff, nerf, crowd-control or take potshots at enemies from range. Each feels like a character plucked out of some pulpy fiction, a lost Indiana Jones, Allan Quartermaine or Doc Savage story.
The skill trees are especially interesting. They’re not just laden with new attacks, stat boosts or weaponry;, instead, you also unlock new conversation and event options for use in the field. This, combined with the large roster of characters, adds a massive breadth of replayability to Pathway; your roguish soldier may take an explosive route around the same event that you,on the last run, infiltrated silently with a different set of characters.
I attempted two runs while at EGX earlier in the year, having seen very little of Pathway beyond GIFs of the amazing artwork. I was pleasantly surprised at how pacey and condensed the combat instances are — your characters are like little hero units, similar to a D&D campaign. They are vastly better equipped than enemies, although heavily outnumbered. Neither of my runs were successful, but I sorely enjoyed exploring the overworld and resolving events. I do hope that, when it finally releases, the characters will not be all unlocked from the start — they are all so unique that the roster is overwhelming at first, similar to trying out a whole new fighting game.