Pathway looks more than a bit like Indiana Jones: Tactics

Pathway

Oh dear. All it takes is a screenshot of a rag-tag band of roguish heroes fighting Nazis out in some 1930s archaeological dig and I’m humming the sodding theme tune again. Pathway is the followup to XCOM-lite tactics game Halfway. Marsh Davies rather liked it in spite of its flaws back in 2014, so here’s hoping that developers Robotality (now being published under Chucklefish’s rapidly expanding indie umbrella) have taken a few notes over the past four years.

Rather than continue building on Halfway’s sci-fi setting, Robotality are going back to a simpler time, when adventurers were rugged, maps doubled as travel montage scenes and Nazis were frequently shot, stabbed, clobbered and/or exploded even before they went and kicked over Poland.

At first glance it looks pretty similar to Halfway so far, only with a potentially more interesting strategic layer. Glimpses of choices to be made out on the overworld map remind me a little bit of FTL. The overworld itself is apparently procedurally generated, although story events (and hopefully some combat encounters) are hand-crafted. As fun as infinite replay value may seem on paper, there’s a lot to be said for a carefully designed scenario.

As accessible as the combat looks in the footage so far, I do find myself wishing that someone would attempt to recreate the incredibly flexible combat engine from Jagged Alliance 2 (especially the post-fan-mod version) for a game like this. With a little bit of a modern UI cleanup, it could be the next big thing.

While there’s no release date pinned down for Pathway quite yet, they are shooting for a mid-2018 launch. You can check out the official site or wishlist the game on Steam here if you want to be kept posted, or just keep an eye on RPS, because it’s basically Indiana Jones as a strategy/tactics RPG, and that’s more than enough to hold our attention.

15 Comments

  1. shinkshank says:

    I like the look of the game, but am I the only person who’s getting pretty fed up of just going through a series of text encounters that are like
    “You meet a travelling clown merchant! Do you :
    a) ask to see his wares
    b) honk his nose
    c) attack him
    d) (special) have your clown party member ask for a discount”

    This sorta thing really does not hold up to repeated playthroughs, which is unfortunate due to it almost exclusively appearing in games with varying degrees of rouge-ishness.

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Yes, especially when the options don’t tell you exactly what the possible outcomes are and at what percentage they roll (after the first time you encounter the event blind that is).

      It’s gameplay through external wikis, which is just bad game design.

    • Landiss says:

      Yeah, it was nice a couple times, but it’s been done to death by now.

    • abstrarie says:

      Yeah these kinds of “choices” really suck. The Banner Saga is what really drove home how stupid they were to me as clicking on the wrong thing sometimes led to you losing characters (who you had spent hours leveling up and could be the lynchpin of your whole offense I might add). Good game design comes down to hiding the machinery of your game behind a curtain of fiction so that people feel like they are on a journey or something rather than like they are watching a machine spit out numbers at them (or in this case playing a game of mystery door). These choice sequences really expose the inner workings of the game to me, and I generally don’t like what I see. Now if they were somehow procedurally generated so that they were always different (I mean entirely different and with different choice sets, not just if/when they occur) and the outcomes were somewhat predictable and had ramifications beyond “you now get get or lose x thing” I could see them being more immersive and fun. But I understand how tall of an order that is, so maybe they should just be ditched entirely.

    • LexW1 says:

      I think it depends entirely on the implementation. It absolutely can be “gameplay by wiki” (or “gameplay by memory and repetition” – which is actually a significant element lot of games, including Souls games), or it can add a lot to the vibe of a game and make it considerably more involving, even when you know what’s coming. Or somewhere in-between even.

  2. Vilos Cohaagen says:

    Halfway was ironically halfway to being a good game but a few poor design decisions made it less than the sum of its parts. I will require convincing before I go for another iteration. BTW Halfway was also published by Chucklefish.

    I agree with you about JA2. Loved that game.

  3. Caiman says:

    I wanted to like Halfway, their previous game, but it was just too damn difficult too quickly. It never really communicated to me how to tackle that difficulty either. So while this looks potentially a lot more interesting, I’m cautious until I know more.

  4. sysinfo says:

    Is this a Pathway… into Darkness?

  5. Vilos Cohaagen says:

    Halfway was ironically halfway to being a good game but a few poor design decisions made it less than the sum of its parts. I will require convincing before I go for another iteration. BTW Halfway was also published by Chucklefish.

    I agree with you about JA2. Loved that game.

    Also why is RPS eating my comments?

  6. Premium User Badge

    Dios says:

    I kinda feel bad for developers who release tactics games in a post-Into-The-Breach-market…

    • Landiss says:

      Into the Breach is less tactic, more puzzle though. It’s not to everyone’s taste.

  7. poliovaccine says:

    I’m curious how grid-based tactics handle the line, “I’ve got you two surrounded.”

  8. Michael Fogg says:

    Visually it’s like an uglier Desktop Adventures.

  9. cpt_freakout says:

    It’s looks like The Curious Expedition with tactical combat instead of rolling dice. Which is to say it’s exactly the kind of thing I like.