The Choose Your Own Adventure series of books back then had always been a thrill for me, and its appeal translates incredibly well into video games. The allure of having to make decisions that impact how the narrative will go adds a deeper level of engagement compared to other genres, which is definitely an itch that Paths: Beatrice’s Adventure aims to scratch.
But while there’s an innate element of immersion in a genre like this, does Paths: Beatrice’s Adventure deliver, or is best to find your path elsewhere?
Table of contents:
PATHS: BEATRICE’S ADVENTURE VISUALS
The hand-drawn visuals alone score top marks from me, as there are plenty of snapshots you’ll encounter as you progress through the story. The game is mostly text-based, and you’ll spend most of your time reading through exchanges between Beatrice and the people around her. But every so often, when something significant happens within the plot, you’ll be rewarded with a scene that’s masterfully drawn to help you paint a better picture of the story, whether that’s something as dynamic as a snowball fight or a quiet and heartbreaking peek at Beatrice crying in a dark corner.
The entire game is laid out like a phone conversation, with your main menu designed to look like your mobile phone’s screen. The story plays out within the phone’s messaging app, which is, in all honesty, a completely odd choice in my opinion.
For one thing, the conversations aren’t text messages. Dialogues are presented in speech bubbles with a person’s face that indicates who’s talking – much like in a chat – but the narrative is actually just a story that’s told in first-person point of view, with an odd third-person narrator that pops up every now and then.
In that sense, it definitely takes you out of your immersion into the game, because while everything is designed to make things look like you’re picking replies to a text message, the whole story actually tells you otherwise, and it can be pretty jarring .
THE GAMEPLAY OF PATHS: BEATRICE’S ADVENTURE
That said, the core gameplay loop is really just you reading through the dialogue and then choosing what to reply. Depending on your responses, you can either hurt or improve your relationship with your loved ones, and each family member has a meter you can check to see how you’re faring with them. At the end of each chapter, you’ll see a summary of your choices or the “path” you’ve chosen, as well as the different images you’ve collected throughout the game.
There are nine chapters plus a prologue, and you can essentially complete a single playthrough in just an hour. The key here is replayability, of course, because the FOMO is really, really strong.
When I talk about the fear of missing out, I mean that each summary of your Path after every chapter will not only show you what you accomplished but also what you didn’t. Sometimes, there are subtle little hints to what you could have done instead, and it’s definitely going to make you want to redo everything just to see what you missed out on.
For instance, a chapter told me that I went inside the house and didn’t witness a crash, or that I walked past the hallway and didn’t open the mysterious treasure chest. I didn’t even know there was a treasure chest there, so how was I supposed to decide if I wanted to open it or not? It’s moments like those that really made me want to replay things just to complete my collection of scenes.
WHAT’S THE APPEAL?
Unfortunately, the game doesn’t make it easy for you to replay the whole thing from scratch, because there’s no fast-forward function that lets you skip ahead to the parts where you’ll have to make a decision, unlike in other games within the same kind. There’s only a button you can tap to move on to the next line, which will have you tapping away incessantly just to get to the fork in the road.
It’s also a shame that there’s no background music for the whole game at all. Something as evocative as the visuals might’ve been enhanced even more if there were an equally evocative soundtrack, but sadly, the lack of any music once again takes away from your overall immersion (I also spotted a few awkward sentences and minor typos here and there, although they don’t really distract from the main story). The narrative itself, while interesting, isn’t anything to write home about, but it does offer enough to make you want to know what happens next.
Overall, Paths: Beatrice’s Adventure is an enjoyable option if you’re looking for something low-key and text-based. The art – which reminds me so much of the graphic novel Blankets by Craig Thompson – really is the star of the show here. If nothing else, you’ll still likely want to keep progressing through the narrative just so you can collect the breathtaking pictures in your gallery.