Ancient ruins, intrepid adventurers, evil cultists, and Nazis! No, these are not the adventures of a certain archaeologist; it’s Robotality’s Pathway.
This turn-based tactics game certainly makes no bones about its influences. In fact, the first scene I stumbled upon was basically “Ark of the Covenant barbecues some Nazis” – and I do like my Nazis well done, thank you very much. Such references abound without feeling overdone.
Mind you, Pathway is a lot more than just Indiana Jones without the license. In fact, you’re not going on adventures alone. The game is split into five campaigns, each of which lets you send a team from a pool of 16 adventurers. Some of these have to be unlocked by fulfilling special requests (“finish a campaign with an all-female team!” “kill 100 Nazis!”).
Most of your missions revolve around getting to a certain point on the world map. So you jump into your jeep and take to the roads or, well, pathways. This part reminds me a lot of FTL, with battles, camp sites, and various choose-your-own-adventure segments along the way.
Battles are turn-based affairs that could do with an undo button, frankly. Other than that, it’s standard, enjoyable light tactics fare with hit percentages, bountiful loot, and all that good stuff.
Combat seems to lack an overwatch function, which is a shame, since I found myself in a lot of situations where it would have been rather helpful. Also, enemies always seem to rush toward your position, so hunkering down and picking them off as they come running towards you seems like a cheap, but valid strategy (at least in the early game).
You can heal wounds and revive “dead” team members at camp sites, but those seldom appear on your main route. Taking a detour is fine, as long as you have enough gas to power your jeep. Otherwise your team of intrepid adventurers finds themselves stranded in the desert.
One cool thing: characters actually keep their experience, even if a run ends prematurely. Achievements also serve a purpose, unlocking extra items to use on future attempts. Character progression is a bit on the boring side, however. Leveling up only offers incremental upgrades to your existing skills.
Two things that are way less cool: there are a lot of dogs, and you have to shoot them. Hasso is only doing his job, man! Thankfully, you can at least turn off dog yelps. Still, not cool, Franz! Also, in a month that has releases with narratives like the anti-colonialist Falcon Age, Pathway feels utterly outdated with its uncritical handling of tired old colonialist themes. Sure, you’re killing Nazis, but you’re also raiding ancient tombs in far-off lands for profit.
Pathway‘s look and feel is somewhat reminiscent of Wargroove – another title published by Chucklefish. The combat might lack a certain depth, but the game’s overall presentation is quite charming.