Surprise! Oculus have announced (and released) a brand new VR game today during The Game Awards 2019 called Path of the Warrior, developed by Twisted Pixel. And guess what? We’ve already played it. Here’s the full review!
Path of the Warrior is about as close as you can get to a VR adaption of a non-VR game without actually paying the licensing fee to use the IP itself. This is, for all intents and purposes, exactly like a Streets of Rage, Final Fight, or Double Dragon game, except it’s from a first-person VR perspective. If you’re looking for a quick and dirty synopsis, that’s it. You punch bad guys, pick up stuff, and beat up bosses. That’s the game.
Now, get this: Path of the Warrior takes place in a town called Rage City. And you often fight in the streets. So…my pun in the headline is pretty genius and original, right? Yeah, I don’t think anyone else will think of that.
I grew up on the Sega Genesis. All three Streets of Rage games were in constant rotation on my system as I plowed through them each ad nauseum with friends. I couldn’t get enough of the rocking soundtrack, amazing pixel art, and edgy style. All that being said, not enough was really done here to adapt Path of the Warrior for VR beyond the minimum.
You move around each level, wait for enemies to spawn, punch them a few times until they’re staggered or have fallen down, then either keep punching them to finish them off, grab them and toss them into a part of the environment, or use a finishing move of your own. Once a wave is defeated you save a civilian that has a bomb tied to their hands. After all the waves are gone, you fight the boss then you unlock a couple mini games for each area. That’s literally the entire game for five levels.
Mechanically it’s just about flailing your arms a bit for a little under two hours then rolling credits. No difficulty options and no multiplayer support (yet) although that’s reportedly coming soon without a date attached.
Reviewing a game like Path of the Warrior is difficult and conflicting because, at it’s core it’s certainly fun.
Twisted Pixel have done a good job of channeling that 90s-era arcade style into a VR game that’s fun to play in quick 20-minute bursts per level and it’s got a great deal of visual variety since all five levels are extremely distinct with different enemies, weapons to find, and a new special power-up to gain, but it’s just not enough.
The main issue at hand other than Path of the Warrior being a generally shallow game without a ton of content is that it’s not designed well from a VR perspective either. You press a button on your controller to make a disembodied leg quickly erupt from your invisible chest to do a kick, for example. It feels downright ridiculous. You can pick up and use items in the environment as weapons, but only some of them. Chairs? Yep! They’ll even break apart! Tables? No, of course not. You can throw enemies into walls with bottles on display causing them to shatter, but don’t try picking up the pieces or broken glass.
The combat is also devoid of any physics interactions at all, instead using canned animations. You don’t even really need to put any force behind punches for them to connect either, just squeeze the trigger to make a fist and poke away like a feather if you want. Even though all the enemies look different based on each level, their strategy is always the same: slowly walk towards you and take turns punching, very slowly, and without much intent to do you harm. I think I died once the entire game and that was only because I accidentally backed myself into a corner.
Honestly the best parts of the game for me ended up being the boss fights. Each level has thematically appropriate and wholly separate encounter with a named boss character that rumbles in with dedicated movement patterns you’ve got to memorize. One enemy has a mohawk of knives, for example, that he picks and throws at you so you need to punch them out of the air and throw the final one back. Another boss is a pair of roller-skating sci-fi women that do laps around you and throw goons your way that you need to punch back before getting trampled.
They do a great job of punctuating levels that are visually delightful to explore, but with only five 20-minute stages to get through it’s mostly too little too late.
Path of the Warrior Review Final Verdict:
Path of the Warrior is a conflicting game because it’s seeping with nostalgia and simple thrills like punching clowns in the face or shooting hoops at an arcade littered with unconscious thugs. Twisted Pixel have done a good job of replicating what it would feel like to go inside of a Streets of Rage-type video game and it mostly succeeds on that front. To be clear: Path of the Warrior isn’t a bad game, but with only five stages that take less than two hours to clear, repetitive combat, and not much depth at all, it’s nowhere near as impressive as it could be.
Final Score: 3/5 Stars | Pretty Good
You can read more about our five-star scoring policy here.
Path of the Warrior is now available as of December 12th for $19.99 on both Oculus Rift platform and Oculus Quest via the Oculus Home Store with cross-buy support. When multiplayer support releases next year, it will also be a cross-play title.
This review of Path of the Warrior is based on the Oculus Rift version of the game and was conducted using a Rift S with two Touch controllers.