The Way is a freeware, indie role-playing game that follows Rhue of Landorin, a young wanderer on a quest to regain a piece of his past. He's been searching the Way for many years already as the game begins. With his hopes diminishing further and further each day, he is setting a frantic pace for himself, desperate for a simple clue that might help guide him to that which he lost so many years ago. Along the way, he discovers many new people, such as the arrogant and abusive Strata, the charming and world-weary Traziun, and the lawful and violent Slade. However, his situation and that of many others is about to become quite deadly as a shadow killer begins a murderous spree of destruction along the Way.The game comes in an episodic format with a total of six chapters. Along the way, Rhue travels through caves, duels in tournaments, traverses infernal realms, gets caught up in a gang war, survives a demonic outbreak, goes through a lawsuit and performs in a grand stage production.All six episodes of the game can be downloaded here.Needs a Better Description, preferably by someone with a more intimate understanding of the history and development of this series.
An Economy Is You: Averted. Rhue apparently is completely or nearly broke from the start of the game, never gets any more money, never does any shopping and only ever pays for (plot-mandated) things by getting other people to pay for him. Very, very rarely, you can barter goods in specific situations, but overall it's fair to say that Rhue has no impact on The Way's economy whatsoever.
An Interior Designer Is You: Borderline. In Episode 6, you can buy a house and fill it with furniture, but it's all placed ahead of time, and it's pretty important for the Lexus ending.
Anti-Villain: Slade. The man has a weird sense of justice, but that's simply because his mother influenced him so he would obey her with no question.
Black Comedy: Many of the funnier parts in the game are pretty much about Rhue being a grouch. Highlights include calling a woman a money-grubbing, lazy whore ( actually, he does that a lot) and insulting a young boy for no reason.
Block Puzzle: There is one in the battlegrounds in Episode 3.
Bonus Boss: The leptor. Many more, if you count optional plunges.
Break the Cutie: Take Lyrra, the most optimistic and innocent person in the world, then have her boyfriend not just dump her to chase after another girl, but abandon her in a temple full of murderous ninjas, tell her Rhue killed her father, then find a sword that magnifies negative emotions and murderous intent. All in the span of 10 minutes.
Catch Phrase: Rhue: "How sweet it is." Every time he wins a plunge.
Also by Rhue: "Wonderful..."
"Sweet flaming lands..."
Cerebus Syndrome: It starts out as a fairly happy RPG with some dark themes. By the end...
Characters as Device: Many characters in Episode 1 are introduced merely to teach the basics. The most glaring examples are the characters Dana and Wes. They help Rhue fight a few battles, are knocked out cold, and... are never seen again. At least Therin got a cameo.
Rhue's companions in Episode 6 become stronger through this system.
Averted for the rest of the game though. Rhue gains points in individual stats one or two at a time by absorbing items, and other party members stay the same for the duration of their stay with you but usually have new skills and better stats if they show up again later.
Chekhov's Gunman: Slade shows up in Episode 1 long enough to save Rhue's life and scare Strata before disappearing until Episode 3.
The Chessmaster: Gaius seems to be playing both sides of the conflict in Estrana.
Chick Magnet: Rhue. It's not clear why, but women just seem to flock to him. Even women who really don't have ANY reason to like him.
Crapsack World: The Purpose is implied to be there simply to control people, while the Lord Below actually exists, one of the only large cities, Estrana, is full of poverty and crime, and the world is made up of crazy religious fanatics (The Guided) and tools (Blood Lyn).
Creator Breakdown: Though it may be part of the epic Mind Screw that is Episode 6, there are many hidden messages that can only be accessed by RPG Maker about a girl who saved him (the creator, Lun), only for him to leave her crying, complete with calling himself a fool. There's also a hidden room with sad music only heard that one time, some child who "just wants to get back to sleep", and a man spouting things depressing even for The Way, about looking through a window every day and growing sadder and sadder each day after looking at it. Looking reveals it's an image of a young boy smiling. Lun was definitely going through something when writing this stuff.
Cruel Mercy: If you defeat Strata at the end of Episode Five, Rhue mocks him and lets him live. However, since Strata has pretty much spent his entire life being a Glory Hound, being beat by some wanderer with weird clothing (right after one of his girlfriends, who he might have cared for, is killed), probably did not do well for his sanity.
Cutscene Boss: The plunge battles, sort of. They do have a legitimate alternate combat system, but they mean that most of the one-on-one battles between humans in the entire game take place outside of the normal combat system (and early in the gane there's little you can do during the battles to really affect your odds of winning.
Slade: Find someone else to be your prostitute. Try your husband.
Deal with the Devil: Sacrifa, leader of the Guided in Estrana, makes a deal with "the Lord Below" to cure his wife, who suffers from a mysterious disease that is eating away her flesh. This goes horribly wrong: he is discovered, his wife is stoned to death, and Sacrifa then calls on the Devil, who unleashes a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, destroying the city itself.
Degraded Boss: The nasty boss of the Barucha cave shows up as a regular enemy a few acts later in the mines.
Demon Slaying: You have the option to fight two lessers in Episode Six.
Despair Event Horizon: A bunch of characters have this, but some notable ones: For Rhue, killing Lexus; for Lyrra, Strata pretty much telling her to "fuck off"; for Strata, Rhue killing Lyrra; for Sacrifa, his wife getting killed... the list goes on and on...
The Determinator: You really have to admire Rhue for the lengths he will go to find one chick. That, or be utterly terrified of him.
Devil but No God: It's strongly implied that while the Purpose is just made up to control people, the Lord Below is very real and very powerful.
Duel Boss: Just about anything that would've been one of these is instead handled through the Plunge system.
Dysfunction Junction: Seriously, look at the characters after Episode 4. It's hard finding a character that doesn't have some kind of psychological issue.
Earn Your Bad Ending: Accessing one of the game's alternate endings - in which Rhue basically refuses to accept that Serena is dead, dies, and descends into hell - requires insane Plunge skills, as well as defeating the game's hardest boss.
Easter Egg: Lots and lots. Some can be found in the actual game (the twisted C.O.O.L Meeting, for example), or some that can be found only with RPG maker 2000 (The Short Sketch). Philisophical messages can be found in the code of Episode 6, including some kind of weird scavenger hunt and a code in PGP.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: The basic core of the plunge system works this way, though the more advanced mechanics are capable of bending the rules.
Empty Shell: After Lexus dies, Rhue is only focused on one thing: finding Serena. Nothing else matters.
Fake Memories: Rhue fits this trope in the sense that none of his recollections about himself were never truly his own but of other people.
Game Mod: If you have RPG Maker 2000, you can change anything and everything in the game.
Gorn: Despite the 16-bit Super Nintendo RPG style graphics, there are very gruesome deaths, especially in episode 5. For starters: Heads being ripped off, the body collapsing into a bloody heap, characters being graphically impaled on stalagmites, having their faces ripped off, scalped, being ripped in half, having limbs amputated, getting ripped in half at the torso, having guts exploding out, and a bird graphically tearing strips of flesh from a corpse, all with blood splattering all over the ground and walls.
Guide Dang It: Worse, until the last chapter you don't "level" in the traditional sense nor get currency from battle—your power is determined by equipping stat items and fighting several combats to "absorb" them. In other words, if you stumble through the early chapters without a guide by the end your stats will be low, you'll be missing several special moves and there will be nothing you can do to make up for it. Oh, and the alternate "Plunge" combat system used for duels depends almost entirely on your stats; no amount of personal skill or patience can cause you to win if your stats are too low, though almost all the later Plunges are either optional or very easy.
Happily Married: Sacrifa and his wife Lilah. Of course, this being The Way, they both end up dead, after he resorts to desperate measures to cure her illness.
Heel Face Door Slam: Cetsa decides to turn over a new leaf... then the first person she encounters, a dying Slade, recognizes and kills her when she tries to help him.
Also, Lexus is having second thoughts about her gang but before she can act on them, is accidentally killed by Rhue.
Heel Realization: Rhue, at the very end of Episode 6. He'd gotten plenty of hints beforehand, but the confrontation with his inner selves clinched it.
Heroes Prefer Swords: Rhue starts the game with a blade even though, by his own admission, he doesn't really know how to use it. That said, seemingly EVERYONE uses swords on The Way... blades for stabbing or slashing seem to be the weapon of choice for the whole world.
Heroic BSOD: In Episode 4, Rhue gets one when he accidentally kills his girlfriend due to a freak combination of circumstances.
Hidden Depths: Many characters, but an interesting interpratation is Strata. He seems genuinely broken up when Rhue kills Lyrra and actually keeps his promise to Rhue for most of the game. Also, Lexus.
Hopeless Boss Fight: Numerous, usually but not always Plunge battles. Most notably, the first three Plunge battles are unwinnable, and Rhue actually gives up after two strikes in the third.
Hub City: As the largest settlement seen in the series, Estrana serves as the stage for many of the inter-political conflicts between the many groups and organizations that exist within The Way, and a majority of the dungeons in Episode 4 exist within the city itself. Dream Estrana in Episode 6 serves as one for nearly the entire episode, with plenty of sidequests inside its walls to keep the player busy.
Hurting Hero: Rhue is always this, but it really gets bad after Lexus' death.
I Have Many Names: "Rhue", the wielder of the Phantom Slasher, has had countless names over the centuries. It's hinted that several of the legendary heroes and villains that you hear about were either him, or were later absorbed into him.
I Just Want to Be Badass: Parris tries to intimidate Rhue. It doesn't work. Also, Strata wants to become the Paraphalyn, the ultimate badass.
Immortality: "Rhue", Type II. This is one of the abilities granted by the Shadow Swords
Inexplicable Treasure Chests: This is the case for all six episodes. Only treasure chests found in the settlements are ever truly justified.
Ironic Echo: Strata utters a condescending remark toward Rhue as he walks away from him for the first time after mugging him. Rhue repeats a variation of it after he defeats Strata in their last encounter in the series.
Strata: Why don't you contemplate what's just taken place here while I go make some money at the races. Later, blue boy.
Rhue: Why don't you contemplate what's just taken place here while I go after Gaius. Later, loser.
Jerk Ass: Strata, and possibly Rhue if you play him that way.
Irrational Hatred: Inspecting the mirrors that can be found in most houses reveal that Rhue begins the game disliking them, and hates them more and more as you progress through the story. This, despite the fact that mirrors serve no role in the story whatsoever. The mirrors reflect him correctly, and he's not who he thinks he is.
Kill 'em All: In Episode 5, the casualties are: Slade, Lyrra, Cetsa, Alan (you can see his disembered legs poking out of a bush), Sacrifa, Entrego (presumably), and an entire city of innocent people, inculding children.
Long Lost Relative: Maybe several. Lyrra is Jeruh's little sister, Scatha and Serena are Slade's sisters, Kloe and Cetsa were childhood friends who fell out over the pendant that Cetsa found. Other relations are implied in some places, but cannot be proven or are disproven by Episode 6.
Lost Forever: Except in Episode 6, previous areas cannot be revisited, so if you didn't get the items there, too bad. This goes for experience, too, since the game doesn't use random encounters, but also because the aforementioned items are your primary source of stat gains in the first place.
Love Makes You Evil: Well, losing that childhood love, for Jeruh/Rhue. A straighter example is Sacrifa: his love for his wife, Lilah, leads him to make a Deal with the Devil to cure her from a painful disease.
While that is the worst offender, the rest of the series is pretty confusing as well. Not only is almost nothing resolved, what little the fanbase has to work with is extraordinarily cryptic and confusing. (The result is that Epileptic Trees start popping up absolutely everywhere.)
Minigame: Several times. Holding off a siege with cannon fire, a vaguely side-scrolling shooter game, catching a rabbit...
Multiple Choice Past: Two of the flashback sequences Rhue has of Serena; they're dependent on what the player chooses for him. The first one decides her hair color, while the other defines how her personality matches with the various female characters Rhue has encountered so far in the series. This is justified by the very end.
Pyrrhic Victory: In what appears to be the canon ending, Rhue finds out about Serena. But he realizes he is just a fabrication of the mind of others and has lost pretty much everyone he has ever cared for (well, except Kloe, if you have enough of a friendship rating with her.)
Really 700 Years Old: "Rhue", though the game never tells his age. One NPC from Episode 6 indicates that he has, at least, been using the Shadow Sword for over a hundred years.
Relationship Values: They're invisible, and most of them don't matter - some affect the dialogue, while others were created early on only to never be put to any real use.
Re Traux: The game uses Super Nintendo style graphics and MIDI music.
Retcon: Kind of a subversion, in that instead of having later episodes contradict information from earlier ones, Lun went back and edited the episode in question. Examples include how the headhunter in Episode 1 used be looking for Gaius instead of Jeruh, and Slade reacting a lot differently at the mention of Serena's name in Episode 5.
Rule of Cool: Having control of Traziun's storm through the fortress was really pretty pointless, you could have just shown him killing them all. It was mostly there just to show how Traziun is Awesome Incarnate.
In earlier versions of Episode 5, Strata temporarily goes through this during his arena plunge with Rhue if he lasts for much longer than the the six-turn limit predicted upon him. This has been changed to have Rhue go down immediately at the seventh pass regardless of how much HP he has remaining.
Violation of Common Sense: Being a bad thief and acting like a complete Jerkass during the party in Episode 6, which leads to getting the worst courtroom result with no notch item rewards, is the only way to trigger an external event that gives the player a certain notch item that allows access to a hidden skill.
Walking the Earth: Everyone, pretty much. It's considered blasphemous to settle down.
What Could Have Been: An episode retelling the past episodes from Lyrra's point of view, Episode 6 ending with Rhue entering the top cell of the Arm of Estrana, followed by an Episode 7, amongst other things.
What the Hell, Hero?: Characters often say this about Rhue, like Strata confronting Rhue and calling him a monster for killing Lyrra after she went crazy. Rhue did it in self-defense, but he didn't exactly seem broken up about it...
Rhue just wants to find his girlfriend and make sure she's safe... but by the end, he's killed many, many people and is generally considered to have jumped off the deep end. Not to mention he's in denial about the bloody amulet.
Woman Scorned: Lady Patura uses all her authority to degrade Slade and break him down, after he refuses her advances.
World's Strongest Man: This is what the title of Paraphalyn signifies. Oddly, no one seems to hold the title by the time the game rolls around. Well, no one alive. Kavax is quite happy to give Rhue a shot at inheriting the title from him during Episode 6.
Wraparound Background: This is used in the scenes where characters are running on what Rhue remembers as the Landorin Stretch.
Unstable Equilibrium: Very, very much. Winning challenges or finding secrets early in the game nets you awards that boost your power forever afterwards. If you do not find these secrets or beat these challenges, however, you're likely to do poorly in the future.