The Way Remastered (2018)
Developer: Puzzling Dream
Note: The Way was originally released for PC in 2016. The Way Remastered was released for the Switch in 2018. This review is specifically for The Way Remastered. The game is still mostly the same, but if you'd like to check out what the differences are, see here. I'll refer to the game using both names interchangeably in this review.
I'm unfortunately one of those people who genuinely enjoys wasting time window-shopping, which means sometimes I just scroll through the Nintendo Switch game store despite the fact that I've got plenty of games in the backlog. Occasionally you'll find lesser-known games making the front page for their super-discounted price. I've bought ridiculously cheap games this way twice. The first time, the game I bought turned out to be so bad mechanically that I couldn't get through 5 minutes for it (I may try again someday so that I can at least write a thorough but scalding review of it). However, the second time, I happened to pick up The Way Remastered - for a whole $0.99. Even though this time I made sure it had positive reviews, I was still skeptical about this bargain game. Thankfully, it did turn out to be a great deal for a rare gem of a game. The Way is a space-exploration platformer about a man's tragic and relentless journey to reunite with his dead wife.
As I mentioned in the note above, The Way Remastered has a few improvements to the original 2016 title. They're mostly in the enhanced graphics and sound, but one big change was the addition of voice acting. As I've mentioned before, voice acting isn't always a plus in my book. However, knowing that the original didn't have it, I'm really glad I played the remaster. It added a lot of personality and relatability to the protagonist. The video below shows off some of the cleaner graphics and the voice acting in the remaster.
The Way throws you into a somber story right off the bat. The very first scene is a man, the protagonist, digging a a woman out of a grave and taking her body with him. We quickly learn from environmental clues that this woman is his wife, and he puts her in some sort of liquid chamber to keep her body fresh. The game begins to give you assignments as to what you need to do next. It feels wrong at first, following blind orders of body-robbing and breaking into a space exploration facility, but there's gotta be a reason to what he's doing. This high-tech facility is clearly where you used to work, and you're able to get around the security and break into a functioning spaceship. By this point it's pretty clear we're taking this body into space with us and there's no stopping this, so might as well strap in. Along the way, you encounter lingering ghosts of your wife that trigger memories of your time together. These cutscenes give us a little insight into what the protagonist and his life was like before tragedy struck. I would have appreciated learning a little more about his wife as well and what she was like - we only know that she worked with him in this space exploration team and therefore traveled with him to distant planets as part of their research.
The Way manages to smoothly take you through a lot of game styles, even in the beginning. You have to do some stealth to get past the robots guarding the facility, then figure out some interesting puzzles in order to get all the parts you need and move obstacles. It seemed like there might not be fighting involved, then I quickly found a laser gun and didn't need to stealth at all anymore (which was pretty nice). I don't play a whole lot of games with guns as weapons, but I enjoyed using the almost cheesy-sounding pew-pew laser gun on flying robots. Further on into The Way you also play through high-pressure timed chase scenes where all you can do is run and avoid obstacles. The amount of new challenges and constantly changing environments is what had me hooked to the game pretty quick. The only shift I was very unready for and didn't really like was the very last one, where all of the sudden you're playing a bullet-hell portion, with multiple long phases, where you have to start all the way over if you get hit even once. Yes, I have very limited experience with bullet-hell games because they're just not that fun, so I'm definitely not good at them, but I still feel like it could've had a little training for it before throwing you all in.
Despite The Way being a satisfying 10-hour playthrough, it almost feels like it was longer. You end up traveling from a graveyard on Earth to several different extra-terrestrial places. Each one looks extremely different from the next - you can imagine how lost and small the protagonist feels through this very long journey, where years pass and his relentless drive continues. There's more than one point in the story where a pretty long time skip happens, and the world has changed when you get back in to playing in it. My absolute favorite part of this game was Tincan, an orange alien creature that decides to follow you (if I tell you why it'll just make me very sad) and be your companion. Not only is Tincan adorable as a pet baby monster, but during the time skip, Tincan grows up and is now your bad-ass, huge monster companion who destroys enemy monsters for you. It's excellent, I really appreciate how this unexpectedly became an important part of the story and Tincan grows to become your best and only friend in this endless, lonely journey.
The Way Remastered has a very defined and nostalgic art style and it keeps you on your toes with its puzzles and strange environments. It's a story of loss, companionship, and letting go. Assuming you pick up this game outside of sale for $15, I'd say its still worth its value. It's not anything groundbreaking or extremely unique, but it keeps you engaged and it's genuinely fun. If you can pick it up on sale like I did, though, you're getting an amazing deal. It's not a game I would've personally picked up otherwise, only because it's quite different from my typical picks, but I'm very glad I did, and am proud of myself for getting through the more difficult portions.
The Way is available on PC and Xbox.
The Way Remastered is available on Nintendo Switch.
Played on: Nintendo Switch
Playtime: 10 hrs