In a world full of match threes and simple blasters it's a refreshing thing to stumble across a casual game that manages to balance being simple, but complex enough to pose a challenge
In a world full of match threes and simple blasters it's a refreshing thing to stumble across a casual game that manages to balance being simple enough to get into quickly, but complex enough to pose a challenge on each new level. PathStorm, the first game by Cavebug studios, is such a game. While I can't say it was perfect, it was definitely a good start and a game I've found myself returning to when I've got a few minutes to burn.
Oooh. Pretty colors. And I love the bunny loading bar
Animated mapping is a good thing
At its heart PathStorm is a game of logic and deduction. Given an entrance point and an exit point can you figure out what happened to get a ball from one to the other? It sounds simple and sometimes it is, but very quickly the complexity mounts when you realize that the path of the ball could have been affected by any of seven different types of playfield objects (bouncers, splitters, shifters, twirlers, scramblers and switchers) or the speed of the ball. As well what started out as one ball with one exit may not be multiple balls each with their own exit when a splitter, or several splitters, are involved. Sounds and blinking backgrounds are used to indicate how many objects the ball strikes as additional clue for object placement.
There are 130 levels in the basic game play with difficulties between junior and expert and the order of the levels changes every time you start a new journey. The journey mode allows for collecting trophies and the map picks up color and animation with each level passed. Difficulty can be changed both through the type of objects that are used on the playing field but also through variety in the shape of the playing board and orientation, timing and goal of the level.
Sometimes greater challenge just requires rotating the playing field
One entrance, three exits – what goes in between?
In addition to the Journey mode this game features a puzzle mode where you can create levels of your own and the ability to save these and share them with other PathStorm players.
Graphically, PathStorm has very clean lines and engaging backgrounds. The backgrounds have a very native feel to them, but the ball movement and effects seem much more modern. I don't think this is to the game's detriment in the long run, though there are moments when it feels like the village feeling and the effects just don’t go together.
The background music for PathStorm is mild enough not to be annoying and is appropriate to the game play. More interesting are the sound effects of the balls interacting with the objects on the playing field. The sounds are timed with the travel of the ball, so you can hear when a bouncer is closer or further away from the entrance or exit. Other audio cues help with identifying splitters and other objects based on how many sounds follow. With a sharp ear you can deduce as much about the game play as by the visual cues or logical deduction.
My biggest complaint about the game is likely the tutorial. While I approve of having a good tutorial the instructions in PathStorm are often a little too step by step. Once you’ve been through the base tutorial the rest of the tutorial screens for the introduction of the various types of objects and at the start of each level drag. I wanted a way to quickly learn how the new feature changed gameplay and get going. You can skip out of the tutorial, but I feel like there are places where I clicked out too soon and then missed something that made the levels a little more puzzling than they should have been until I’d played through more than one with the new feature. All together this area of the game could be tightened.
X does not mark the spot
All in all PathStorm is a very satisfying bang for the buck, and a nice first product for Cavebug.
Top Game Moment:
TOP GAME MOMENT
Correctly guessing where seven objects went without putting any other pieces in place.