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Pathway puts a tactical, FTL-like spin on Indiana Jones adventures

Globe-trotting pulp adventures, Nazis to shoot, cursed artifacts to claim and/or explode and elements of both XCom and FTL? Pathway is ticking a lot of exciting-sounding boxes already, and doesn’t look half bad either. Developers Robotality cut their teeth with the purely tactical Halfway back in 2014, but their second game looks like it’s no half measure, building on both the combat and RPG sides of the formula. Below, ten minutes of abridged adventuring, exploring and turn-based tactics, showing off one of the game’s five semi-procedurally-generated campaigns.

A Russian scientist and a salty old smuggler seem a mismatched duo of adventurers, but between the five campaigns and many starting parties available, it looks like Pathway might have some serious replay value to it, assuming its combat holds up the first time through. In the footage, the heroes are pursuing a Nazi research unit who are tearing apart the middle-east in search of an artifact called the Wrath of God.  This means a lot of travelling across the desert with limited ammo, fuel, money and supplies, and picking your fights carefully. Many map nodes are accompanied by FTL-like multi-choice story beats, and some of them segue directly into combat scenarios.

One thing I do like is the animated, detailed scenes accompanying every story node on the map. It helps bridge the gap between the resource-juggling and social challenges your party faces, and the tactical battles they’re thrown into on a semi-regular basis. Each of the party members has a list of skills they can use in these story segments, although it seems like there’s some hidden dice rolls involved too. On top of your usual Nazi troopers and guard dogs, we see a bunker overrun with zombies, and the player tussles with a ‘Teslaborg’ at one point, after an attempt to sneak past fails and drops the players into a fight with their cover blown.

While the combat doesn’t look quite as granular and complex as it could be (maybe I’m just spoilt after the likes of X-Piratez), I struggle to find anything I dislike the look of here. Even the soundtrack does a passable job of imitating John Williams’s classic Indiana Jones score, which you can hear a little bit better in last year’s trailer. The choice to have five distinct story-driven campaigns, but with random elements multiple ways through each is bold for a small studio, and I really hope Robotality can pull it off – I’d love to be able to say that it belongs in a museum.

Pathway is due out later this year, and will be published by Chucklefish. You can find it here on Steam.

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Dominic Tarason

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