What do a Fox, Cat, Rabbit, Frog and a conspiracy of Ravens have in common? If you said the next animated feature from Pixar you… may be correct, but that’s not where I am going with this. What they do have in common is they are all part of a fun, charming choose your own adventure in where you, Reynardo a dashing fox who has been thrust back into the adventuring life as you acquire a book which allows you to literally go back and change your own quest line. If that isn’t classic early 90’s awesomeness than I don’t know what is!
One of the first things you will notice about this game is its look. Stories is a slick looking game with a color palette that is both vibrant when needed, yet subtly mute and subdued as you progress down darker story lines. The use of color is one of my favorite aspects of this game simply because how how beautiful it looks.
Color is also one aspect which helps you along the story progression. Shown above are two options to choose as your story path, each has its own color associated with it. This association help you progress towards new endings, the four truths, and eventually the end of your heroes journey. There is a downside to this method though as you are mostly going through the stages/levels to progress the story, but some of the climactic or intensive battles and experiences are left on the pages of the book.
This, I think, is one of the major downfalls of the game, yet it isn’t, again in my opinion isn’t a game breaker. As a story telling choice it seems to make the most sense in stream lining your experience as you get to choose different branching paths to flush out the games overall world. Herein lies my biggest issue with the game, is the branching story lines can start to leave you lost or re-treading the same story arcs as you trial and error your way through.
This repeating story arc is either a boon or a bane, depending on how you look at it. It is a boon because the combat is fast, fun, and picks the best aspects of larger AAA titles combat to use. Bane, on the other hand, comes at the price of potential slow downs in larger combats, simplicity of the combat can become repetitive and the occasional glitch which will stick you into the floor due to pots/boxes/pillars breaking apart.
To further expand upon these issues, lets start off with the Boon. Combat, like mentioned above is a fun. You leap from enemy to enemy ala Arkham Knight, dispensing your foxy judgement across your raven foes. Enemies signal when they are about to attack you, and much like Ubisofts yearly Assassin’s Creed, you can parry these enemies and launch into a new and blistering offensive. To aid you in your raven-slaying are four swords you collect elements and ore to build, Fire, Frost, Shadow and Hero. The Hero’s sword is your first, and allows you to unlock doors of equivalent color, as do the other three blades, yet unlike the other blades it has a defensive ability to it. This sword heals you with your magic ability, so in the eventuality of getting hit, you have a reserve med pack of sorts to fall back on. The nice part is your magic regen’s over time so you can stand around and make a sandwich then heal back up again.
The rest of your armament consists of a water sword, which you can freeze enemies in place with, a shadow sword that zips you around at light speed (pun intended) and, everyone’s favorite flavour of weapon, the fire sword! Bursting your feathered not-friends into a tasty treat so long as you have the magic to fuel it. Each of the swords can be upgraded so they do more damage both with and without the magic in effect.
You also have a gauntleted hand, which holds three gems. These gems are found in the “epic” chests and give you advantages such as, magic on enemy kill, critical damage increase, and physical resistance. There are more gems, so your play style can change a bit, but in reality, you are not making a tank/healer/dps class out of our hero, its just incremental changes.
One thing has kept me coming back to this game though, even with the small issues I have had and it is the narrator. He does a fantastic job of both playing out each scene, and putting the necessary punctuation on the jokes as you traverse around the world. His name? Julian Casey. His voice may seem familiar, and that is because he is the voice of the scientist of Tiny Brains and as Uncle Jack of We Happy Few from Compulsion Games. He brings each of the characters to life in such a fun and loving way that you forget sometimes its just one guy croaking and being shifty and fall into a world of talking animals living on the high, literally, sea’s of sky-pirating adventure.
The Canadian team of Spearhead Games has done a great job on this game, and that is as plainly as I can put it. Are there issues? Sure, it can be a bit repetitive, there are a couple of slow downs, and if the combat isn’t your speed you may find it a bit lack luster compared to a more complex fighting system. That said these issues, in my opinion, are minor to the overall enjoyment that is to be had from this game, a game I might add that hasn’t really been seen on the PS4, where I am playing it, yet, and an experience I think it worth the purchase.
Give this one a pick up and enjoy a return to the choose your own adventure novels, except now, you don’t have to mark/hold fifteen pages to make sure you don’t die. Thank you for reading