The Path of the Warrior from developer Twisted Pixel is, based on the name alone, either a rediculous budget title or a tongue-in-cheek homage to a beloved gaming genre of the past. I’m happy to say that it’s not a steaming fistful of garbage, but instead a stylish reimagining of the beat-em-up genre. It isn’t perfect, but is it worth that twenty spot in your back pocket? That depends. Allow me to explain.
Depending on whether you were an eighties kid like me or a nineties kid, you’ll see The Path of the Warrior as a VR reimagining of Double Dragon or Streets of Rage. If you aren’t either, let me explain. These were sidescrolling games where you simply walked left to right punching and kicking a lot of same-looking bad guys until you reached a level ending boss. Rinse, wash, repeat, and enjoy. The story behind these games was always ridiculous, but it was the eighties (or the nineties) and it just worked. Now, thirty years later, it still mostly works, based on the fact that it’s in virtual reality.
There is no teleportation, but you can adjust your free locomotion speed as well as your turn speed. There is also click turning if you need it. I found the default settings just fine with no motion sickness, but obviously your mileage may vary. I played this on the Quest so I did a lot of turning manually, but if you choose to play on the Rift S, or just prefer to turn with the sticks, this method worked great with little to no discomfort. There was one exception to this which I’ll explain momentarily.
You can pick between a perfectly ridiculous male or a female character. And when I say ridiculous, I’m talking about giant muscles, neon cyberpunk clothes, and spiked mohawks that defy nature, gravity, and good taste. And wait until you see the bad guys. Newcomers may question why so many of these bad guys look exactly the same. The answer to this is simple: that’s how these games always were (and probably also because it’s cheaper). It seems the local gangs have gone crazy and have kidnapped various townsfolk and strapped bombs to them. That strategy seems questionable at best but we’re gonna just go with it.
Your enemies come at you slowly but relentlessly, and you’ll need to pummel them until they fall. You can throw jabs, crosses, and uppercuts by actually throwing these punches. You’ll need plenty of room, and I’d suggest a good stretching routine. You can also throw kicks, but obviously you’ll need to push buttons for that. We may have finger tracking, but foot tracking remains frustratingly out of reach. These kicks are awkward as they seem to come out of your chest, but it’s whatever. It didn’t bother me at all. What did bother me is that each punch has a canned animation. Each and every jab looks the same. Each uppercut looks the same, etc. You aren’t dodging punches and you can’t counterpunch to the body. Even if you throw a punch to the body, it either won’t connect or it lands on your opponent’s head. And to dodge your enemy’s attack you’ll either need to run away using controllers or by quickly stepping back if you have the room. It feels like a huge missed opportunity that there isn’t a more realistic style of boxing to use here. I know this isn’t a boxing game per se, and that there is a lot more going on here, but if Twisted Pixel could have mixed in just a bit of Thrill of the Fight or Creed style boxing, it feels like this game would have been amazing.
As it stands now, it is a fun but too simple experience that relies heavily on nostalgia. But the nostalgia is strong with this one. The music, the graphics, the style, all of it made me feel good and kept a smile on my face. Where the gameplay does succeed is mostly the ability to pick up any number of things in the area to pummel your foes. Chairs, pool sticks, frying pans, the list goes on. They all break after a few uses, but it’s fun to stun a guy with a broken pool cue, and then throw is dazed body into a jukebox. Death by Stereo, if you will. Plus, I once threw a man into an oven just to watch him burn. Don’t judge me.
The best part of the game for me, however, was figuring out how to defeat the many different and crazy bosses. Figuring out the formula to defeat each of these over-the-top foes wasn’t overly difficult, but it was fun and a welcomed change of pace. Unfortunately, fighting these bosses was about the only change of pace the game features. I don’t get sick from walking around in VR games that are optimized properly and Path of the Warrior looks and feels great, but there is one boss battle that featured two female skaters in a big skating rink. They skated circles around me at one point and was spinning around trying to figure them out and I did get a little dizzy. I beat them on my first try, thankfully, because I would have had to take a break to try again.
In the end, Path of the Warrior is a great reminder that there are plenty of 2D gaming genres that can be adapted to the VR format and be a lot of fun. I find that very exciting and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Twisted Pixel promises that they are bringing a multiplayer co-op option that they couldn’t complete in time to make their release window, but insist is still coming. Kicking ass with a buddy sounds like a blast, and a great reason to fight my way through the three to five-hour campaign once again. But until then, there is little reason for me to go back. Path of the Warrior is a nice step in a cool new direction that just barely misses the mark.
Path of the Warrior Oculus Review
Overall - Good - 6.5/10
I think Path of the Warrior is the first VR beat-em-up but hopefully, it’s not the last. It’s full of style, crazy scenarios, and fun to beat bosses. If only it had more depth to the actual fighting. After playing Thrill of the Fight in VR, this just felt too simple. Maybe I’m asking too much. It’s still fun and if the co-op campaign does show up and is done right, it would probably be worth the modest $20 asking price. Even now, if you’re a fan of the genre, there is enough here to work up a sweat and put a smile on your face.
- Boss battles are fun and unique
- Game is silly but full of style
- The game runs silky smooth and looks great on the Quest
- The gameplay is repetitive and simple
- The game is on the short side and offers little replayability until they add co-op
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using Oculus Quest/Oculus Rift (via Oculus Link)
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Also available on:
Oculus Rift/Rift S, Oculus Quest
December 13th, 2019 (All supported platforms)