In a world where I use video games as an escape from the trials and tribulations of being an adult, The Path of Motus comes waltzing in and drags reality back into the mix. Part platformer, part puzzler, this second game from indie developer MichaelArts encourages you to face your fears and pursue your dreams.
Take the High Road
Motus dreams of a life beyond his goblin village. His father would love it if he stuck around to help with the farm, but kids will be kids and it’s time to leave the nest. Armed with nothing more than words and a paintbrush, Motus sets out into the forest. And I literally mean words and a paintbrush. Words are the only weapons you wield and words are what you must face if you want to get anywhere. Your enemies spew hateful and discouraging speech toward you, which you can counter with kind words or you can attempt to dodge them. Successful dodging could earn you shiny little High Road tokens. I only ended up with a small handful of these.
While I think the sentiment here is an honorable one, your only options are to hurl words at the bullies or run. Instead of the impact of your words stunning and calming the other goblins, they cause them to poof away just the same as when their hateful words strike you. Seems like a missed opportunity.
Paint by Numbers
As you lead Motus through three stages of his life, locked doorways and missing bridges threaten to force the boy to turn back. This is where Dad’s handy old paintbrush comes into play. The mechanic here is simple: each square contains the number of lines it needs to have connected to it. Once all of the boxes are darkened, you’ve solved it. The two types of puzzles you will come across either look like the one in the screenshot below or quite obviously need to create some sort of bridge. Solving the puzzles might have been my favorite part of the game. I’ve always considered myself a bit of a Professor Layton.
Each stage of Motus’ life features these door and bridge puzzles. Some of these are easily missed which means that completionists will want to replay any paths that have been missed for those sweet, sweet PlayStation trophies. To be honest, I would replay the game just to see if I could solve those bridge drawings again and see if I can beat my previous time. Although, I did miss a few paths, which means there are sure to be more puzzles for me to solve, which ultimately means more satisfying “Aha!” moments can be had. Yes, I think I might need to find these additional puzzles. This itch needs to be scratched.
Boy – Teen – Man
If life weren’t depressing enough as it is, Michael Hicks has decided that trying to cope with our bullies was too simple. So what did he do? He decided crush our spirits with a one-two combo of reality and whispered words. Once we rush Motus past the hordes of angry purple goblins set on hardening our heart, we get to watch this young man give up on his dreams to schlep through life. Dreams of making it big with the band? Those have been lost to the aether. And all the while this bleak music takes over and I do my best to ignore it and push through because certainly once I reach adulthood things will be better.
Boy oh boy was I wrong.
Yes, adults have to make some sacrifices. Some of us toss aside our dreams because others tell us we’re not good enough. Others choose to focus on their careers and never look back. But, damn, Mr. Hicks! You still managed to gut-punch me. There’s only so much whisky in my liquor cabinet. It didn’t help that I’d also spent time listening to some rather disturbing background music that urged me to give up and quit. Eventually I felt better about myself. It took some super sugary J-Pop to get me out of that head space.
Although my journey with The Path of Motus was short, when I put down my controller and went to bed for the evening I was still thinking about the message within. It reminded me of a lot of events in my life that I’d rather forget. Any game, no matter the size and scope, that can drag those dredged up feeling from the hole I buried them in is both a blessing and a curse. Now excuse me while I shovel them back down and drown them with ice cream. (Thank the gods this game came out during National Ice Cream Month.)
The Path of Motus review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a standard PS4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.