Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Path of Neo (2005)

Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Developer: Shiny Entertainment

The biggest problem with this release is probably the philosophical/moral one. This was sold as your chance to dictate the path of Neo. It’s the name of the fucking game, man! Thing is, you can only really change ONE THING. And, that only results in the absence of a clip or two from a rapid-fire montage of scenes from the film. I feel sooooo empowered… No, this isn't an art house game, and I didn't expect it to be a Western RPG, either. Choice was promised in a straight-forward game and I RIGHTFULLY expected a few, simple branching paths at the very least.

At some points, the gameplay can now make me feel nauseous because of the visuals, movement, and filters utilized. The combos can be quite elaborate but the longer unlockable ones feel like they can only be executed via luck and/or button mashing. Some upgrades are dependent on small set-pieces that can easily be missed. Once you miss something, it’s almost irrevocably absent from your file, even if you load up a prior save, get it, and continue forward recreating the data. This is most unacceptable with the super jump ability that mostly fills in for your ability to fly. In fact, it tends to be gone altogether when you load up a save AFTER receiving it.

It is present in the levels that absolutely require it for traversal, thankfully, and those are the most interesting in the game. You may not be able to change much of anything in terms of Neo’s narrative but what was newly added tends to be the best aspect of what’s on display here. Merv’s levels are delightfully Escher-esque and now remind me of an area in Silent Hill Downpour. Though brief, I’ve still never forgotten the train-car segments in the subway.

The requisite new ending is cheeky and clever enough that I’m able to laugh at it and I have sincerely always been satisfied and glad that it exists. Thumbs up, Wachowskis, for navigating a minefield.

It’s a shitty, shitty action game and is incredibly unpolished but there is creativity buried in here if you’re willing to fish it out. There’s no great imperative to, like there originally was with Enter the Matrix, but there are worse things you can spend your time doing. Not many, but a few.

Buyer’s Guide: PS2, Xbox, PC

1½ Nods to Marsellus Wallace out of 5

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