When you’re on the hunt for a puzzle game, you kind of have to know what type in particular could satiate your needs. Are you after a real challenge that will force you to think outside of the box and beyond, or something more easy-going to just keep your mind ticking over and fill some time? If it’s the latter, then developers Journey Bound Games might just have the game for you in the form of their serene puzzling adventure, Path of Giants. That’s assuming Path of Giants lives up to its promise of delivering a calming experience, of course.
Prepare to embark upon a quest in Path of Giants involving three keen explorers: Bern, Matchi and Totch. They’re on the hunt for a lost treasure that has been hidden away by kings of a bygone era and is rumoured to be under protection of giants. Furthermore, anyone attempting to reach the treasure must overcome a number of trials in order to prove their worth. Is this trio up to the task? With you to guide them, anything is possible.
The story itself is pleasant enough, serving as merely a tool to set the stage and give a reason for the adventure. Seeing as there are only a handful of still scenes, with minimal animation, and occasional text dialogue between the main characters, Path of Giants does an acceptable job without doing anything beyond what’s necessary. As for the world they’re traversing, the environments Journey Bound Games have created are interesting in the way that there’s a calming and mostly neutral palette used – plenty of grey and beige tones, alongside other pale colours. In doing so, this draws your attention to the obstacles and enables the adventurers to stand out more.
Across the 12 main levels, the aim is to manoeuvre Bern, Matchi and Totch towards a vault door at the end of each one. To make progress within these areas, you must ensure the trio reach the coloured stone which matches each of their outfits. It wouldn’t be much of a trial if they just mosied on through without some kind of obstacle though, and so there are puzzling segments to navigate en route. This may require climbing, descending, the use of switches, and even taking a lift that’s on a pulley system.
Whatever the problem, teamwork is crucial. As Path of Giants is a single-player experience, you must switch between the explorers and use the on-screen cursor to send them where you desire. There are certain aspects which make you think logically; one of which is that to climb up a platform, another teammate must be directly adjacent to the spot in order to give you a boost. The same is true for trying to get back down, with a bit of help needed to descend safely.
Every section within a level is a challenge for sure, but nothing a little planning ahead and pondering can’t solve. Once more gameplay elements are introduced and you have to balance the lift system to get to a platform that’s difficult to reach, or find paths that only a specific coloured adventurer can use, it becomes trickier. Due to the lack of a time limit and a handy undo button, frustration should not rear its head and you can take as long as you need. The minor criticism I have here is that I wish there were slightly more variety to the obstacles, which would truly enhance the adventure.
What is a nice touch however, is the completely different puzzling problem preventing access through the vault doors in the form of a Pipe Mania style mini-game. If you are familiar with the art of rotating tiles in order to make connections, then these won’t pose too much trouble at all, but on the whole it’s a good way to end the levels and really changes things up nicely.
Upon completing the main adventure, you can extend your playtime via four bonus Winterfest levels which – unsurprisingly – bring a very festive and wintery aesthetic along with them. That’s not all though, with another level unlockable by smashing enough expensive looking pots throughout the original 12 levels. Chances are, you’ll be done and dusted in around four or five hours after finishing off the extras, which isn’t bad going given the launch price.
Before wrapping up, I feel the point and click system in place can create a few problems for itself at times. This becomes apparent mainly when the characters are close to each other, and the tiles you’re trying to click on, because it’s too easy to click the wrong thing. On the flip-side though, the colourblind feature is a welcome accessibility option as it lets you alter the character colours and find a setup to suit your eyesight the best.
Overall, Path of Giants is a relaxing puzzler that sticks to its ethos by providing a good selection of slightly challenging levels, creating an environment that’s easy on the eyes, and having a chilled vibe courtesy of the soundtrack. It keeps proceedings ticking over with some new elements here and there, without their inclusion cranking up the difficulty too much. The variety in gameplay features and obstacles are the only real drawbacks, which prevents Path of Giants from reaching the very highest echelons of the genre.
If you wish to spend a few hours focusing on teamwork and overcoming logical problems, Path of Giants is a pretty good option. It won’t break the bank either.
Follow the Path of Giants by venturing to the Xbox Store!