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- Stories: The Path of Destinies
Stories has a lot going for it that gamers love. There's no real "but" here.
Stories: The Path of Destinies isn't too keen on the chances of its protagonist, an anthropomorphic fox named Reynardo, who leads a rebellion against a mad emperor but is intensely outnumbered and most likely outclassed. You can tell the success of his mission is unsure because the narrator's sarcastic delivery is ready and willing to cast some shade on its vulpine hero. Of course, that may not matter too much, since Reynardo has a few tricks up his sleeve.
I didn't see it in the demo at Playstation Experience, but a key mechanic of the game involves time travel or a rewind mechanic. However, as it wasn't featured, there's no way to know if this means getting to re-choose a new path from a previous section, or a more in-game mechanic à la Life Is Strange. Story choices are a big part of Stories, though. (No pun intended.)
Where Stories really impressed me was the way that it used the oft-copied-but-rarely-well freeflow combat mechanic of the Batman: Arkham games. Unlike most other games that focus on the melange of different button presses to counter various attacks, Stories just has you press the attack button to block and counter with your sword. What it does that the other games don't is copy Arkham's flow, as Renardo leaps across the battlefield from enemy to enemy, cutting them down with his blade. As a matter of fact, the ballet of it seems a bit stronger when matched with a sword than the caped crusader's fists.
Stories progresses in a slight Metroidvania kind of way, with locked gates being unlocked by elemental swords Reynardo finds in the course of his battle. Additionally, they had unlocked the hookshot for us during the demo, which allowed Reynardo to swing across chasms and through gaps in structures.
The game has a fairly straightforward skill tree for upgrades, and when given the option, I put a point into doing damage on a counter, as opposed to increasing the strength of combos, since I've always been terrible at hitting the buttons at just the right moment. Different abilities acquired throughout the game also appeared upgradable in the skill tree, though whether or not his added additional functions or simply more damage was unclear.
While I only got to see a small portion of Stories, it's clear that the combat has been tuned to be enjoyable to the degree that you'll want to play it over again, to see other outcomes and narratives based on your choices. The cartoony stylized look fits the anthropomorphic story well, and its wry sense of humor is sure to appeal to anyone who hasn't tired of the sarcastic narrator trope yet. It has over 30 possible paths and is slated for release in early 2016 on Playstation 4 (with other platforms like PC to follow).