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Video Game / Pathway

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The year is 1936 and Nazi activity is increasing in intensity by the day.
Tirelessly, they send their expeditions into the vastness of the deserts and the inhospitable mountains of the Middle East.
North Africa, Arabia — what could the armies of evil be looking for?
Codex - Introduction section

Pathway is a Turn-Based Tactics Roguelike released on April 11, 2019 on PC, Mac, and Linux, developed by Robotality and published by Chucklefish. The game is set in 1936's North Africa and Middle East, with secret wars between Nazi Germany and a mysterious Sisterhood competing for Artifacts of Doom. The story begins when the Non-Entity General recruits a team of adventurers to rescue a friend of theirs, Morten, who has been captured by the Nazis. What follows is a race to retrieve four ancient artifacts, each with nigh-supernatural powers, as the adventurers must contend with Ghostapo Nazis and Necromancer Cultists, along with their own dwindling supplies.

As a Roguelite, the game procedurally generates a map of nodes, some of which have their events revealed. The player's mission is to travel to the X at the end of the map, while overcoming ambushes, special events, and the typical annoyances of your misguided mercenaries. Characters are pre-generated only and have a mixed variety of skills and abilities which can be used in combat and during events for a major advantage.

Each character can equip a primary weapon, a secondary support item, and armor. Armor in this game directly subtracts direct damage from attacks, but every attack shears a portion of the armor's durability - with some attacks dealing more armor damage than others- weakening its effectiveness until it is repaired. Each weapon type has its own damage output, range, and unique weapon ability. You also need to manage your fuel, ammo, and supplies; if you run out of fuel, you'll lose health when walking to the next node on foot, if you run out of supplies you won't be able to use your medic bags/repair kits/grenades, and if you run out of ammo, you're screwed (unless you brought knives or really like punching).

The game has sixteen player characters available, though only six are playable at the start. The rest must be unlock by completing challenges (kill 100 Nazis, kill 5 enemies with a bleeding effect...). Party size ranges from 2 to 4.

The story is split into 5 campaigns ("adventures"); finishing one for the first time unlocks the next one. Experience levels, money, and loot are kept between campaigns. The first adventure happens on a single worldmap, while the other missions involve several stages.

Pathway provides examples of:

  • Achievement System: Earning trophies grants a reward that can be claimed ingame (fuel, experience, an item...). Those trophies are linked to the save profile; they can't be farmed for more rewards, but they are resetted and can be gained again if you create another save profile (of course, you'll start the game from scratch).
  • A.K.A.-47: Weapons have made-up names.
    • Pistols:
      • The Preussisch-Moser M1907 is a Mauser C96.
      • The Hastings Service Pistol is a Webley revolver.
      • The Steiner Pistole 34 is a Walther P38.
      • Neuvelle 9mm is a Walther PPK.
      • Dominic .425 Parabellum is a Colt 1911.
    • Assault rifles:
      • The Venner Automatic Rifle is an AK.
      • The Adler & Stahlknecht STG-34 is a StG 44.
      • The Zeisig Sturmkarabiner M18 is a M3 SMG (the "Grease Gun").
      • The Charleston M1 is a Thompson M1 without stock.
      • The Blake Semi-Automatic is a BAR with a bipod.
    • Shotguns:
      • Hastings Trench Gun is a sawed-off Winchester 1897
    • Sniper rifles:
      • The Willoughby .303 Ghillie is a scoped Lee–Enfield rifle.
    • Grenades:
      • The Hastings Bomb No. 23 is a Mills Bomb.
      • The Steiner Granate 1924 is a Model 1924 Stielhandgranate (the "Potato Masher").
      • The Preston Grenade is a Mk 2 grenade.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Never stated but implied at the end of the "Wrath of God" adventure: the eponymous Wrath of God is a superweapon found in a cave, in the middle of an alien-looking architecture including the hologram of a rotating planet Earth, but the nature of the artifact (or its surrounding) is never revealed.
  • Anti-Armor: The disintegrator weapon class inflicts more damages against armored enemies, and reduces damages against unarmored enemies.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Once a tactical encounter is over, the score screen has an option to automatically reload each weapon (proceed without choosing this option would require to manually reload each gun from the inventory screen to be sure to have fully loaded guns for the next encounter).
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can't have more than 3 party members at the start of the adventure. Random events in the adventures can add more party members, but you never can have more than 4 party members on the same time. Attempting to recruit someone with a full group opens a window when you can choose to leave someone behind.
  • Artistic License – Cars:
    • Jeeps in 1936 (historically, they started being sold in 1941). The player characters' party drive one to travel on the worldmap. They also show up in German camps.
    • Old jar of petroleum randomly found in ancient tombs can be used to refill the Jeep's fuel tank.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Egyptian-looking ruins show up in Morocco, Palestine, Syria...
  • Artistic License – History: The in-game map comes with modern borders and modern countries in Africa and Middle East.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Shani has a 25% damage bonus against undead. Unfortunately, she's also a melee-only character. Starting from tier 2, undead enemies have either counter-attack capability if not slain in one hit or explode after dying, dealing damage to everyone standing next to them. This means Shani is almost guaranteed to get hit back. Oh, and she can only use light armour.
    • Making the most of a high Reflex stat is a very chancy proposition. While those characters have a higher-than-normal chance of completely negating any damage, they're also usually lightly armoured Glass Cannons or Fragile Speedsters.
    • Legendary consumables. They have extremely powerful effects. In fact, they heal/repair so much, it's almost always more than needed, often more than even max HP a character or an outfit has. They are also nigh impossible to restock.note 
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: In the original release, armour worked in this way, but as of the latest major patch, damage is now reduced by a set amount and split between the armour and the wearer, with the damage reduction falling as the armour's total HP is reduced. Armour is also no longer repaired at oases and other rest areas and must be repaired manually, or swapped out for armour in better condition.
  • Boring, but Practical: Knife and shotgun combo. Knives deal the most damage of all weapons, but obviously lack range and are single-target only. Shotguns have short range too, but allow knife users to still engage at range and also have a powerful Blast ability, hitting everything within a cone-shaped area with their full power. Anything and anyone on path of a character that can use both of those weapon types is going to die in a single attack.
    • Pistols are this too, due to their Double Shot ability to quickly take down enemies with high HP.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": "Bravery" is a Mana Meter which fuels weapons secondary attacks and a few other abilities.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Most of the 'magic' in the game is sufficiently-advanced precursor technology that has been abused by the Axis powers and the cults. Whether it uses actual magic somewhere down the line or is purely technological is intentionally left unknown.
  • Common Place Rare: You'll often fight small parties of gun-wielding Nazi mooks, but finding ammo in the post-battle looting screen is much less common than it logically should.
  • Competitive Balance: Subverted. The stats of the characters don't add up to the same sum, making some simply better than others. This is in theory balanced by giving those weaker characters special traits and abilities, but ever since Adventurers Wanted! patch overhauled equipment, weapons and armour can provide characters with special abilities they normally don't possess, further unbalancing the roster. Pereira is probably the most prominent example of how poor the balance is - he comes with great, highly useful traits and some of the best stats in the game, tailored for his specific niche as a Close-Range Combatant.
  • Continuing is Painful: If all party members of the current adventure are downed, the player is taken back to the start menu. To start again, you keep the money, loot, and experience levels, but the downed party members are temporarily unavailable unless you can afford their medical bill. If you didn't do well, you have to start over with even less resources than what you have at the first try.
  • Counter-Attack: Higher tier zombies will retaliate if not killed and standing next to their attacker.
  • Distressed Dude:
    • The very few adventure requires from your party to rescue a friend of yours, captured by Nazis.
    • A few of the random events allowing to hire an adventurer during an adventure feature a group of Nazis interrogating a captured adventurer or holding them in a jail inside one of their bases. Choosing to free them from the Nazis starts a tactical encounter and winning it allows to get a new party member.
  • Dump Stat: Most characters have a few stats at 1 or 2 which they cannot increase. For melee characters this is typically Dexterity (used for aiming), snipers Agility (movement speed), heavily armoured characters Reflex (Evasion chance).
  • Emergency Weapon: Characters equipped with a firearm can also fight with their fists for a low damage attack, unless they carry a knife in their "item" slotnote , which allows to use a much more damaging melee attack.
  • Evolving Title Screen: At the game's start, the title screen shows the current party of adventurers from the last save resting in the scenery of the current adventure.
  • Going in Circles: This is one of the random events that can happen when travelling to a new node. It causes the loss of 1 fuel.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Disintegrators used by adventurers shoot blue beams. Those used by Teslaborgs fire green and red ones.
  • Global Currency: Ancient gold coins that can be found as loot or as random events are immediately added to the expedition money pool and then work as well as whatever currency you where carrying to buy fuel, ammo, or other supplies.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Nothing in the original game told you that you could change the orientation of the line of 5 tiles targeted by Burst Fire by scrolling up and down with the mouse wheel. A later update made it a permanent tooltip.
    • In similar vein, the Ambush ability of Sniper Rifles didn't mention that ambushed targets have their attack/movement interrupted, even if they survive the shot or it misses. Presently, the tooltip mentions that it impedes enemy action.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Mostly averted. Adventurers can only carry their gear (a weapon, a tool/secondary weapon, and an outfit) without having their own personal stash. The Jeep's inventory contains 10 slots (Adventurers Wanted update allows you to triple the size of the inventory with upgrades), though some usable tools can stack. On the other hand, the Valuables bag is bottomless.
  • Informed Equipment: Not only do the adventurers' sprites remain identical when you change their weapon and outfit, but several of them have starting outfits which don't look like their in-game models.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: In the original game, your jeep started out with only 12 slots, which rapidly fill up, and each character can only carry a weapon, an auxiliary item such as a first aid kit, repair kit, or grenade, and the clothes on their back, and can only equip items based on their abilities, and only consumable items stacked. The Adventurers Wanted update in October 2019 allows you to upgrade the boot of your jeep to hold up to 36 slots. In addition, rather than a number of set consumables to keep track of, auxiliary items now all draw from the same shared resource pool with a limited number of uses per combat. While juggling inventory can still be a struggle in the early game, but quickly falls by the wayside as you unlock the added cargo space and the various alternate characters.
  • Level Grinding: Once an adventure is unlocked, it can be replayed as many time as you want. Replaying the shortest and easiest one, "A Friend in Need", with any combination of adventurers available, allows to level up a bit more party members. It's actually advised to do this, or the random events which allow to recruit another character during an adventure would result in a low level adventurer joining a party during a high level adventure. Level grinding is restricted in Hardcore Mode, since you immediately transition from one quest to the next and cannot fail any quest without losing the profile permanently.
  • Limited Loadout: Each character can only carry three items in the same time: a main weapon, an "item" (can be a secondary weapon like a knife or grenades, a healing item, or a tool to repair outfits), and an outfit (serves as armour).
  • Luck-Based Mission: Certain missions are significantly easier if you manage to get a whole party of specific characters. Unfortunately, you can only choose two (and three with Adventurers Wanted! update) of them at the start of each adventure. On the other hand, if you are unlucky, you are going to get the worst choices possible during recruitment, like Omar during the Night of the Black Pharaohnote .
  • Master of None: Characters that start with more than two skills have innate penalties to them. This means that while they are flexible, they will never be as good as actual specialists are.
  • Mugged for Disguise: That's how the party obtains the Wehrmacht uniforms they then wear to infiltrate the German base while looking for Morten.
  • No Macguffin No Winner: Most of your adventures end with the treasure getting blown up or buried, and any secrets you discover are deemed too dangerous to reveal to the world.
  • No Swastikas: When encountering Nazis, there are banners and insignias painted on their vehicles, but it looks like a broad white strip between two thin red strips, with a skull inside a white circle in the middle of the symbol, instead of the infamous plain-red-with-a-black-swastika-inside-a-white-circle-in-the-middle symbol.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Party members whose hitpoints get reduced to 0 and fail to be reanimated in time are removed from the current adventure but are merely sent to the hospital and become playable again after completing an adventure (or immediatly if you pay for their treatment). Averted in Hardcore mode, where All Deaths Final is in play.
  • Not the Intended Use: If the entire party is defeated in combat, the specific scenario fails and all the characters end up in a hospital until you play another scenario, removing them from the roster for the duration. Pick three characters that you definitely don't want to get as potential recruits during the incoming adventure and let them fail a mission on purpose. This way, the character roster is much smaller and even if you don't encounter the character you want to recruit as the 4th party member, you at least won't get the trio you've sent to the hospital.
  • One-Hit Polykill: Various weapons come with Area of Effect damage, which allows you to kill everything caught in it if their health is sufficiently low. There are three levels of achievements for multi-kills.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Agility increases Movement Range, and as in any tile-based tactical cover game, position makes all the difference, particularly because melee is so powerful and cannot miss. Vitality (hit points) and Willpower (Bravery points) are a close second. The other skills are all more situational or based on a degree of chance, meaning unless they're already exceptionally high there's not much value in raising them.
    • The Adventurers Wanted update addressed this by revamping every character's skill tree. Characters now tend to be more specialized — increased Dexterity (chance to hit enemies in cover) is only an option for snipers or long-range assault rifle builds, while increasing Endurance (the number of rounds you can survive while KO'd) is generally reserved for high-HP, melee/shotgun characters, to further incentivize them taking hits, even potentially deadly ones.
    • High Intelligence allows characters to advance in level much faster than other characters, which can be helpful in the early game, but since there are only six levels, after reaching the cap, it doesn't provide much benefit in the long term. Far more useful in Hardcore mode, though.
  • One-Word Title
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • When searching for Morten in the first adventure, the adventurers infiltrate a German base while wearing stolen German uniforms and enter through the gate while driving a car (the narration mentions the gate was guarded by a bored sentinel who barely looked at them before opening). Note that available party members include women and non-Caucasian people.
    • If von B. is in the party and random Nazi patrol is met, he can pretend to be an undercover, high-ranking intel officer, and even requisition some fuel out of them. Simply because he's a native German speaker - and regardless of who else is in the party.
  • Random Number God: Many events can be approached in two ways: either picking a chancy option that is almost guaranteed to fail or pick an option that requires a specific character perk first (meaning the right party composition)... which doesn't guarantee success, just greatly improve chances of it.
    • Mitigated in combat; while the RNG can be cruel when shooting enemies in cover, you are (by gameplay mechanics) guaranteed a 100% chance to hit if you target an enemy that is out of cover or flanked, with grenades treated as flanking. This also applies to your characters as well, which the AI prioritizes.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: You start with a limited pool of fuel and ammo (initially capped to 20 fuel and 60 bullets, the starting quantity depends on a difficulty meter), and only later it is possible to increase the cap. Travelling between two nodes on the worldmap consumes 1 fuel, and using guns consumes bullets. You can resupply by finding merchants if you're lucky enough (their stock is random, so they don't necessarily carry fuel and bullets), as result of random worldmap events, or as loot earned for winning a tactical encounter. There's also random events which consume more fuel than the 1 unit required to travel to the next node. Before the Adventurers Wanted! update, you also had a very limited cargo storage in your car, meaning only a small handful of items could be kept around. After that update, cargo capacity can be increased, but all support items use a new resource called supplies, which can destroy your party via attrition if they run out of bandages, armor plates, grenades, etc, but on the flip-side, this made inventory management itself trivial, especially since support items are no longer consumables.
  • Retraux: A 2019 game with very pixelated, 2D, 16 bits-like graphics.
  • Riddle for the Ages: You never really learn anything concrete about the ancient precursor race, just that they had Clarke's Third Law-level technology. All of it blows up due to aging or mishandling from the Nazis and cultists, so you never learn the truth about how it works or why the ancient civilizations crumbled to the ground.
  • Secondary Fire: Each weapon class (save grenades) has one.
    • Pistols: "Double Shot", consists in firing twice on the same target.
    • Shotguns: "Shotgun Blast", shoots all targets inside a cone-shaped area.
    • Assault Rifles: "Burst Fire", shoots three adjacent squares on the same time.
    • Sniper Rifles: "Ambush", automatically shoots the first enemy inside the area who tries to to move or to attack. Nazi snipers have the same ability.
    • Disintegrators: "Meltdown", fires on a straight line and damages any enemy standing on the ray's trajectory (each successive hit reduces the damages inflicted to the next enemy).
    • Knives: "Bleed", inflicts a hemorrhage effect (Damage Over Time). Both recruitable dogs and German Attack Hounds have the same ability.
  • Shop Fodder: The inventory screen has a bottomless "Valuables" bag, in which loot that isn't equipment, money, or usable supply are immediately stored in; you can sell its whole content to the merchants on the world map (the same is done automatically when you're back on the main menu at the completion of an adventure). What counts includes precious artifacts, like statues, sarcophaguses, ancient necklaces, etc., as well as actual random trash (wallets, worn gloves, toothbrushes, dog biscuits...) note .
  • Short-Range Shotgun: They have half the range of other firearms, and some shotguns have a pitiful 3-4 tile range. Their damage is extremely high, and the shortest-range shotguns can easily overcome their weakness to armor through sheer damage. The shotgun's special ability Blast deals a multi-hit on all enemies in a cone-shaped area. Absolutely devastating when used right, but positioning can be convoluted or dangerous.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In one of the random events, the adventurers unearth something which looks like a stargate.
    • Bowie knife's description? Now that's a knife.
    • Run, You Fools! is the name of an achievement involving escaping from an ancient evil.
    • Third adventure is a combination of both first and second Mummy movie, just getting the names swapped.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: The humble knife. Several characters can equip them as secondary weapons, and three have them as their primary weapon. While knives do require you to be adjacent to an enemy to kill them, they do good damage, never miss, require no ammo and their Bleed effect can enable you to kill enemies you otherwise couldn't take down in one hit. Given that the AI is generally bad at positioning their units to work in concert, moving into enemy lines to shank a Nazi can actually put you in a better position than if you tried to take them on with firearms.
  • Translation Convention: All dialogs appear in the language chosen in the game settings, whereas they are lines from the local people, the multinational team of player characters, or the Nazi mooks.
  • Trauma Inn:
    • Some nodes have a tent icon hovering over them. They represent places offering the option to rest until the next day (usually an oasis ccording to the flavour text), which offer full healing (health and outfits) to the full party, for free (beside the fuel consumed to reach the place). Those can be used several times.
    • There's also non-repeatable, scripted events where helping locals results in the person giving food and shelter to the party for the night, with the same result.
  • Travel Montage: Loading screens use this. It's usually not animated (when loading a tactical encounter ou leaving one), but an animated variant is used when the party moves to the next map during an adventure.
  • Two-Fisted Tales: The game is set in North Africa and Middle-East during the 1930s, and you lead a team of adventurers whose goal is to prevent Nazi occultists to gain archaeological treasures. It's basically Indiana Jones: The Roguelike.
  • Universal Ammunition: Despite the available guns being pistols, revolvers, assault rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, and energy weapons, there is a single ammo pool to reload everything. You even occasionally find black powder-era ammo, and they're usable, too!
    • After the Adventurers Wanted! update, energy weapons no longer require ammo, that's how high their energy capacity is.
  • Weapon Specialisation: Each adventurer can only use specific class of weapons (sometimes unlocked when taking a new ability at level up). Some of them gain further bonuses in one weapon class (usually mutually exclusive between two different weapon types).
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: In one of the random events allowing to hire an adventurer during an adventure, the party ventures inside a town and notices someone being held in the local jail. According to the locals, they got drunk and destroyed things (they claims they don't remember).