The Path of Motus has a strong theme running through it, one that may well indeed hit home for many that find any interest in this game. The basis of the light story revolves primarily around bullying and centers on Motus, a young goblin that’s aiming high and wants to branch out from his peers and background. It’s always tricky to strike a fine balance when it comes to tackling such a real, yet controversial subject material in this day and age, and although The Path of Motus has some strong qualities, but it falls short from time to time.
The in-game history tells of a village full of goblins that, for generations, have been trapped within the confines of a mysterious forests. Goblins that have attempted to leave the village have only ever returned defeated, however, Motus’ determination and proud outlook will drive him through the thick of it. You see, Motus wants to build a series of bridges through the forest and although that would seem simplistic on paper, in practice, to Motus at least, there’s a series of trying and challenging obstacles laying in wait; bullies and their words.
I want to make a point before I continue. Something very commendable that I feel must be pointed out. Developer Michael Hicks will be donating ten percent of the game’s purchases to The Cybersmile Foundation, a non-profit body that helps thousands of bulling victims each and every year through their support lines. I took some pretty nasty email-heat when I reviewed I, Hope and gave it a low score. Mostly due to the fact that proceeds for that game went to a charity to help sick children and their families. So, why am I pointing that out?
I think a line needs to be drawn here. We’re an honest outlet and if we can support those in need, we’re always more than happy to do that. However, that’s not to say that any game will ever get a free pass to a high score based solely on the merit of good will. If a game sucks, we’ll call it as we see it, just as we would if a game deserves a high score. Now, with that out of the way, how does The Path of Motus shape up? Mercifully it’s a lot better developed and lot more refined and well rounded that than of the aforementioned I, Hope.
The gameplay plays out like a 2D side scrolling platformer in which enemies are defeated with the power of your words, with each tethered to the controller’s face-buttons (X, Y, and B). Selecting the correct word will either overcome your opponent or shield you from your opponent’s abuse via projectile output. This isn’t a game that takes the easy moral high-ground at face value. The Path of Motus wants you to understand that not all bullies are venting because they’re obnoxious and viscous, but that bullies may also be suffering too.
This stance is going to be hard to chew for anyone that’s endured the torment of other people. Let’s face it, if you’re being bullied (or have been bullied in life) it’s hard to take the time to see the bigger picture when you’ve got your own pain to work through. I was bullied in a range of different ways back in school. Whether I was being beat on, stolen from, belittled or gang beaten, I cant say that I spent a single moment trying to tap into the mind-set of those who gave me such a hard time. Still, that message is running through the game.
I’m not at all trying to suggest that bullies don’t have their reasons for being the way that they are, but for me, in my childhood, my thoughts never wandered into the situation that in-depth. It was interesting to learn of the game’s back-story and identity, and I commend the developer for taking the time and making the effort to get to the roots here. The important message in all of this is that we all handle grief and anger in different ways, and it’s important to remember that there’s always two sides to a coin. That’s the message here.
I don’t at all condone bullying, but I would be lying if I said that The Path of Motus didn’t open my eyes to some degree. Pressing on. The Path of Motus isn’t simply a game of words, in fact, much of the combat can be bypassed if you’re willing to endure the hardship, which is a message in itself. The themes supporting the moral of the story within will fluctuate from time to time and will cast light on some sensitive matters, which for me, did the game some justice. By and large, The Path of Motus is a game that relays several messages.
At times you’ll need to look deeper into any given scenario to truly soak up what the game is trying to sell you, but for the most part, it’s easy to digest. Throughout play, Motus will mature from a child to an adult, opening new narratives and opportunities for the player to explore. The pacing here is very well done but if I had one major gripe about the game, it would be of its length. It’s not very long. Players will frequently stumble upon what the game refers to as “Thought Doors”, which typically house some well developed line-puzzles.
These line-puzzles present quite a challenge and a nice break from the platforming when you stumble upon them. They’ll also pop up from time to time when you’re in need of building one of those previously alluded to bridges, again, lending the game a nice pace breaker. In regards to the game’s accessibility, I wouldn’t say that it’s exclusive to any age bracket. The difficulty curve can spike as you move through, but not so much that you’ll find yourselves hitting that proverbial brick wall. Schools would do well to check this game out.
It’s far from revolutionary and it doesn’t evolve its mechanics anywhere near as much as it could have, but it’s a competent and well rounded experience nevertheless. The blend of platforming, combat and puzzle aspects, mixed with the morality of making a choice, is what truly pushes The Path of Motus to a well deserved high height. Sadly, the visuals are far from impressive, which is a real drawback for me. I would have liked to have seen more diversity and personality here, but it’s pretty easy to overlook in the grand scheme of things.
The soundtrack on the other hand, I found to be soothing and well struck when we take the game’s several messages (and overarching message) into account. When all is said and done, The Path of Motus will not likely blow you away. It’s a very basic looking platformer that packs a powerful narrative punch. I fear that many will overlook this based on that, but if you’re reading this and you’ve ever found yourselves involved in the subject material, I thoroughly recommend trying this out. Basic it is, but its compelling enough nevertheless.
The Path of Motus is not going to blow you away, but if you’ve ever endured the matters of its sensitive subject material, I highly recommend that you consider diving in. The gameplay itself is nicely paced and presents a gradual challenge that will test your morality, as well as your platforming and puzzle solving skills. Unfortunately, however, its short length and its basic visuals hold it back to some degree.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.