The Meaning Of Life
How far would you go to be with the ones you love the most? This question is the driving force behind the main character as he tries to resurrect his dead wife, literally digging her up from her grave, stealing a spaceship James Bond-style, and traveling to a distance planet rumored to carry the secret of life. A story told through minimal dialog, the visual pixel-art presentation carries the weight of the heavy story with impressive results. Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn’t contain the same high caliber as the plot.
The Way Remastered on Switch is an enhanced port of the original 2016 PC release. While I didn’t play the PC or Xbox One version, I believe The Way Remastered on Switch is mostly the same game only with some minor puzzle modifications; I watched a few YouTube videos in areas when I got stuck and noticed some sequences have changed to make them a little easier and more fluid with this Switch release.
Taking inspiration from games like Out Of This World and Flashback, this 2D puzzle platformer mostly focuses on puzzles but also contains some precision platforming elements. The main character can run, jump, duck, crawl and use a gun via twin-stick shooting so all the standard 2D platforming actions are here. The gimmick, however, is the player eventually obtains four elements to aid in puzzle solving. For example, a shield can reflect bullets to destroy enemies. The red orb can active switches and alien technology. And the green magnet can move certain items in the environment. The control scheme is simple enough and switching between these powers is effortless but some of the solutions are rather obtuse. I mentioned that I got stuck earlier, not know how or what I was supposed to do to keep moving forward. For the most part, puzzle solving will challenge players but usually provide those “ah-ah” moments within a few minutes of trial and error. However, there are still many instances where getting stuck is annoying frustrating. Creatively, the player eventually befriends a big alien dog which becomes a part of the puzzle solving, something that gives gameplay that additional and unexpected spark.
Outside of solving environmental puzzles, the player must run, jump, and climb through each stage. The problem is the game often demands precision platforming but the playable character doesn’t have precision control. Jumping is loose at best, grabbing ladders to climb is often random, and the main character can only survive short distance falls making him almost as frail as Spelunker. There are many times where the player will fall down a pit or get killed from an enemy through fault on the control alone. This unfortunately causes some frustrating moments. At the same time, like some of the puzzle solving, persevering through troubling platforming makes success taste that much sweeter.
The highlight of The Way Remastered is far and away the story telling. The main character’s drive to see his wife again is nothing short of staggering and this dedication is only furthered through visual cues, animations, and very little spoken dialog. Using the environment and puzzles as a character and plot points, The Way’s story is heavily dramatic, impressive, and stays with you after the credits roll. Even the animations are well done and help tell the story. Without giving away too many spoilers, the finale forces the player to make a difficult decision but both options left me wanting more, as if the ending wasn’t quite finished. At the same time, perhaps this is what the developers wanted.
In addition to some of the difficult puzzles and tedious platforming, there is little to no replay value once the main ten-hour campaign is finished. There are built-in Achievements but without Microsoft’s Gamerscore or Sony’s Trophy support, there is no incentive to unlock any that don’t happen throughout natural play. There is, however, a music player available from the main menu. Normally a feature like this would go unnoticed but the musical score, just like the appealing and detailed visual style, is done exceedingly well and I found myself just listening to these ambient tracks for no reason at all.
The Way Remastered is definitely not a perfect game but is still a digital download that should be played for the story and visual aesthetic alone. Some of the puzzles, gimmicky abilities, and platforming can be cumbersome but the way the overall package is presented is something special. Games like this, with detailed pixel art and deep story, just are not made like this anymore. For that, The Way Remastered is a hidden gem that you should explore.
On Par With: Out of this World
Wait For It: the next 2D Prince of Persia
Also Try: Deadlight