Gamers in search of their next big time-sink need look no further than the Epic Games Store this week: The online store is offering an Indiana Jones-inspired role-playing indie game with dynamic turn-based combat and nostalgic 16-bit art for absolutely free.
Pathway is free for PC on the Epic Games Store until June 25 at 11 a.m. Eastern. Anyone with an account (which is also free) will be able to claim and permanently keep a digital copy of the game. Just like the free monthly titles that come with Sony’s PlayStation Plus subscription service, Pathway will stay in your Epic Games library even after June 25, but only if you redeem it before this week’s offer expires.
This 1930s treasure-hunting trek through Nazi-infested Europe and vast deserts is the handiwork of independent game studio Robotality and was published by Chucklefish Games, a retro-focused publisher best known for releasing the chill-AF and widely loved farming simulator Stardew Valley.
From the get-go, players choose two characters from a roster of 16 that each embodies a different adventurer stereotype. There are brawny tough-guys, shrewd con artists, and brainy scientists that each come with their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Jackson Sheffield the quick-thinking "American Globetrotter" can light up an unexpected camp of bandits with ease, but he doesn’t know the first thing about treating wounds or fixing gadgets, which are some of Natalya Shushkova's specialties.
Making sure your adventure goes smoothly depends on selecting a well-balanced starting duo. As players progress they’ll be able to recruit other members to their squad, which can cover gaps in their two starting character’s skill sets, but there’s never any guarantee for the adventure that Pathway could send you on next.
Each of the game’s campaigns is procedurally generated, meaning they’re a combination of over “400 story events” that are ordered differently and will contain small tweaks on each playthrough. Players progress through each campaign much like a board game, by moving to different nodes on a map. Each of those nodes will activate a scenario that could be as simple as one of your characters getting sick or a full-blown battle outside of an ancient temple. There's absolutely no way to predict what will happen next, and that's half the fun.
To complete their adventure, players will need to strategically maneuver through each combat sequence and hopefully avoid any tragic moments as they progress through each node. If a character dies they are sent to the hospital and they will only return if the player has the ability to camp, which is a finite resource. And there's no guarantee as to how often you can replenish that ability. If all of a users’ characters die the story ends and they’ll need to begin a new campaign. There are no options for multiplayer, but in many ways, the Pathway experience feels like playing an Indiana Jones-inspired video game of 8-bit Dungeons & Dragons all by yourself.
So stay frosty and select solid adventurers. You never know what’s over the horizon in Pathway.
Pathway is free for PC on the Epic Games Store until June 25 at 11 a.m. Eastern.