The Way Review

Time to resurrect my dead wife.

A lone man stands tall among hundreds of gravestones. His hunched shoulders and back, and the slight grimace on his face indicate the burden of impending peril. He grabs a shovel and starts digging. You can spot an intimidating city skyline in the distance, with gloomy clouds suffocating the sky. Eerie, synthetic piano notes play in the background. “Her grave..,” the man whispers. He quietly moves through the cemetery, beginning his tumultuous journey to discover a way to bring back the dead.

What is the meaning of life, and how far would you go to hold onto your loved ones? The Way asks these two age-old questions throughout its intriguing narrative. The premise is simple and familiar, but The Way sprinkles enough clever story beats and surprises to avoid predictability. The beginning chapters show promise, offering inventive puzzles that make great use of your character’s strengths and weaknesses. These obstacles require patience, thought, and the ability to accurately retrace your steps. The puzzles during the game's opening hours range from simple tasks, such as deciphering riddles and acquiring precious passwords, to unlocking hidden doorways and passageways in dangerous locations. Early on, you sneak into a security building crawling with deadly robots and cameras armed with lasers. Avoiding the detection while crawling through vents and hitting switches makes for thrilling James Bond-esque moments.

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All your character can do at this point in the game is jump, crawl, and fire a gun--if he has one. It’s this simplistic approach that makes The Way a momentarily delightful experience. One early challenge requires you to find a way to disable streams of water so you can reach your destination. There are curious, bright green numbers placed above each stream. Switches that stop water from flowing are hidden in a different room, and also have the same numbers. I had to figure out in what order to hit the switches based on their placements above each stream. It took some time to solve, but it felt gratifying when I finally did.

The Way unfortunately devolves from this type of level design in favor of mundane trial and error. Where the earlier puzzles give subtle clues, later obstacles offer almost nothing in the way of hints or direction. You’ve no knowledge to refer to, and you end up stuck on a puzzle that can only be solved through banal repetition.

The Way further discourages you when it combines these poorly-designed obstacles with haphazard mechanics. At one point you acquire the ability to use a shield that deflects laser beams. The shield, when deployed, is difficult to wield with skill, and it has to recharge between uses. One of the worst puzzles in the game tasks you with precisely deflecting lasers with your shield towards small tiles in order to create a complicated circuit. This took me an hour to solve due to the cumbersome nature of the shield, and because I had no clue which tiles to hit first. This bogged down the game's swift pace. From then on, the puzzles grew progressively more boring and confusing. Thankfully, the story and characters are fascinating enough for you to keep playing.

A beautiful, happy moment.
A beautiful, happy moment.

The small handful of characters you meet along your journey are all eccentric, and play a vital role in the plot. A group of barbaric, colorful villagers you encounter in an ancient village wear strange masks, and can’t speak English very well. You also partner up with an orange behemoth-like creature nicknamed “Tincan.” The highly detailed, pixelated settings and character models, and the synth-like sci-fi musical score further enrich the excellent worldbuilding and storytelling. No environment or level looks the same, from decaying graveyards and ancient caverns, to sunny sand-swept deserts and bright green forests.

Making your torturous, long trek across planets and galaxies to discover the key to the afterlife can be fascinating. It's a psychological examination of the human spirit and mind, and what we’re truly capable of when we can’t accept our losses. You have to spend several hours solving frustrating puzzles to see it through, but The Way’s poignant story is worth the occasional struggle.

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The Good

  • Thought-provoking story
  • Some well-made and challenging puzzles
  • Stunning environments

The Bad

  • Some frustrating, obtuse puzzles halt the game's momentum
  • Poorly implemented mechanics

About the Author

It took Alex 10 hours to finish The Way, and though he loved solving the game's opening puzzles, he had a hard time staying engaged towards the end. GameSpot was provided with a complimentary copy of the game for this review.
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garfield

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Looks extremely neat. Too bad the puzzles are frustrating.

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GirlUSoCrazy

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Is this supposed to be like Out of this World / Another World / Flashback?

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hammr25

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Edited By hammr25

@girlusocrazy: Yes, it's similar to those but much less polished.

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GirlUSoCrazy

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Edited By GirlUSoCrazy

@hammr25: Thanks :) Well I'll try for a demo (if there is one) since I usually like those types. If not well, maybe when a sale comes along.

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fallkan

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@girlusocrazy: its 10 bucks on steam at the moment.

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jinzo9988

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Those backdrops are just awesome artistically. By the same token I can't stand that kind of character artwork. What a love/hate relationship I have with these screenshots.

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DarthRevenX

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@jinzo9988: backdrops look like FEZ.........

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xantufrog

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xantufrog  Moderator

@jinzo9988: I agree, the environments are stunning, but the art direction for the characters is unappealing. For me, it's not that the characters are also pixelated (I think they should be for cohesion), but the specific way they chose to handle the character design within that "format"

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GirlUSoCrazy

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Edited By GirlUSoCrazy

@xantufrog: The pixellation is fine, just how they look like characters from a DOS Sierra game, very flat and like 3 colors, while everything in the background looks so detailed and colorful. Another odd thing is giving the main character a face. I would have preferred something like Flashback or Castlevania where the face has no detail, if it's hoping to be that small. Better than the stiff botox expression he has. His limbs also look like something out of Ernest Evans, flailing all over. Just an odd look.

In Swords & Swoprcery I loved the background art there too but thought the character art was meh

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Tesarus

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Shield puzzles are difficult? Are you kidding me? I have issues with final boss and few poorly designed puzzles. I can understand complaints for chasing sequences as well, but shield puzzles? They have helpers, don't require any timing just some brain. How stupid should reviewer be to have issues of THAT level with them? I finally understood why Devs implemented achievements like "Close Enough" or "Slow Thinker".

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The_Dragon_Wolf

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Edited By The_Dragon_Wolf

@Tesarus:
No one will take your words with a grain of salt unless they played the game and found what you say to be true, so if you want to boast maybe post a video of you playing that "easy" section of the game instead of throwing random insults at people.

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Gelugon_baat

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@Tesarus: Someone could repeat your own argument against you by swapping your "issues with final boss" with "shield puzzles", to quote your own words.

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Tesarus

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Edited By Tesarus

@Gelugon_baat, @The_Dragon_Wolf Guys, seriously, fix your problems without me. I've completed this game and expressed my opinion on the review and clown who did it. If you want to argue about it - fine, just make it through the game and make your own judgement. Opinion and review are different things.

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Gelugon_baat

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@Tesarus: Don't bother making remarks like "opinion and review are different things" to cover up your lack of tact.

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Tesarus

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@Gelugon_baat: Don't bother making remarks like "cover up your lack of tact" to cover up your inability to understand simple written sentences. And unlike your first recommendation, this re-phrasing doesn't lack logical integrity.

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Gelugon_baat

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@Tesarus: You allege all that without even giving any technical explanation. You are one to say things like "logical integrity" when you don't even plug the holes in your own statements.

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The Way

First Released May 19, 2016
released
  • Linux
  • Macintosh
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC
  • Xbox One

6
Fair

Average Rating

6 Rating(s)

8
Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Teen
Blood, Violence