Bringing an innovative way for a game to be played is usually pretty tricky, but to complete take the controller out of the equation is almost impractical. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a way to completely remove the controller just yet, despite how close Dream Reality Interactive got to getting this done in Arca’s Path. However, it was impressively close and still maintained itself to be entertaining.
There is no dialogue to tell you anything, but from the beautifully drawn illustrations the story can unfold to the players interpretation. You play as a young girl who finds a magical mask that allows her to control a sphere in various planes. The more it is used, the more damage is being done to either, or possibly both, the girl and the mask. A mysterious woman comes to help you continue to use it without issue, but things quickly go for the worse. Now all of your effort must go into escaping from using the mask by overcoming the challenges presented.
When the level first loads, or you respawn after falling off an edge, you start by looking directly where the circle is. This circle is the placement of the ball and activates your control over it. Your view and location of where you are looking is shown with a triangle that has the center filled in based on how hard you are pulling the ball in that direction.
While there are some puzzle aspects, majority of this game is an obstacle course. Some sections will have missing walls, you will need to knock down bridges, break through barriers, and all sorts of different challenges will continue to appear as you progress further into the game. There are checkpoints that you can reach, so there isn’t too much of a hit to your progress when fall off of the edge either.
There is an option called “Freelook” which, as it self describes, allows you to pause the action and look around the level freely. This is good for times where you are looking for one of the collectible crystals, are trying to solve a puzzle, or just simply want to admire the environment around you. You will need your controller in order to do this however, so make sure you keep it nearby or in your hand while you are playing.
Other than pausing the game and using the Freelook option, everything else about this game is based on your head tilt. Where you are looking controls where the ball will be pulled to and how close or far your arrow is from the ball will decide how fast it is going. Regardless if you are on a hill or not, the speed of the ball is always in your control. Not having to use the controller to control the action in the game is definitely different, but relaxing in its own way.
There are also collectible crystals through the initial campaign. Collecting these unlock each level to be used in the time trial mode. While you could simply just revisit any completed level with the level select option in the menu, going through to solve each puzzle for all the crystals is surely a different experience than trying to race from start to finish as fast as possible.
The graphics seem to unfold as you get closer and proceed through the level. When looking further up ahead or back behind you, you can watch the level kind of “unfold” into the world. The same can be said about any plant life on the various platforms that you will pass through. All of it seems to unfold as if it were paper-mache or origami. This was enjoyable to see happen and never got old throughout the entire game.
The music of choice was rather odd though. It was like they were going for a relaxing and anticipating feel at the same time, but it just sounded weird. There is a lot of silence in the beginning and then the first song starts off by sounding like a timer has started counting down before actually getting into the instruments. Along the rest of the game, the music had more weird moments than it did enjoyable ones.
After collecting all the crystals you can go through the game again in the time trial mode, which gives a specific time limit for each level to be completed and award the player the gold for that specific level. Other than that, there isn’t much reason to go back through the game.
What It Could Have Done Better
The music should have been focused on being more relaxing. The levels in the sections where the story seemed to get brighter or darker should have influenced the music a bit, but it should have always been just a soundscape in the background instead of something that caught my attention in a negative way.
I love that majority of the game doesn’t require the controller, and I understand that the controller is needed in order to pause the game, but there should have been a controller-less option for the Freelook mode. Perhaps make the player look above them to tap an icon that can’t be accidentally hit while playing. If you are going to bring an innovative control option to the game, make it work like that regardless what the player wants to do.
The triangle used to tell where the player is looking always points forward. Since the player doesn’t need to move around in this game, having this always facing forward isn’t necessary. It would have been more useful if the triangle would have an obvious top corner and then would turn as the player moved it around. The turn would represent which way the player was currently pulling the ball. This would have helped with a lot of aiming and control situations.
Arca’s Path is a fun game and I love the new control type they set up. It is certainly a good step toward seeing a series of games using this innovative style. It does get a little repetitive and moving your head to control the ball speeds up the process of motion sickness however. All around an entertaining game that I thoroughly enjoyed playing.