An Unexpected Announcement
Path of the Warrior was a surprise winter release, being both announced and launched immediately at The Game Awards 2019. Developer Twisted Pixel has some serious VR pedigree having already created the excellent and atmospheric 1950’s set horror Wilson’s Heart, as well as the recent Bond-Esque spy thriller Defector. Both games are known for staging epic set pieces, boasting outrageous boss battles and for having tons and tons of style.
Their new title Path of the Warrior is a simple beat em up that’s clearly intended to be an homage to the 80’s arcade machine Double Dragon and the 90’s console classic Streets of Rage. As this is their first stab at making a Quest game, the scaled-down ambition seems appropriate. It’s also a fantastic nostalgia trip to put on a VR headset and relive the classic era of the sideways scrolling beat em up from within the arcade machine itself. The official trailer perfectly captures the feeling that most over thirty will feel in their first moments inside this game…
The game starts with a brief tutorial then you’re right into the action. Rage City has been overrun by bad guys who have hijacked the local’s and strapped dynamite to them. You are the titular warrior who must save them, in exchange for food that restores your health. There are five levels to beat each taking about 30 minutes, so a good two and a half hours of solid fighting to get through.
This game’s simple fighting mechanics echo the genre that inspired it. You are able to throw a variety of punches, hooks and uppercuts but all hits have the same animation, there is no real physics here. You can grab weapons and stab or smash your opponents, or throw things at them. Staggered opponents can be grabbed and tossed into the environment, where they can be killed in a variety of creative, and often hilarious ways. Slam them into an oven to burn alive, hurl them into an oncoming train, even feed them to a shark! Each level has multiple ways to finish off the bad guys and I had fun figuring them all out.
As in the beat’em up classics of yesteryear you can also utilize a variety of kicks, although these are activated by button press, legs not yet being tracked in VR. There’s nothing to stop you physically throwing a kick as you press the button, however. I chose to play like this for a tougher workout and had a blast.
Once you’ve cleared out the enemies you’ll take on the level’s boss, and these are simply fantastic fun. One even has a meta vibe as you fight a video game nerd who teleports himself into the arcade machines themselves, forcing you to fight him inside them as well. So you’re playing a video game, in virtual reality, trapped inside an arcade machine. There are levels to this game! Defeat a boss and you can enjoy some downtime playing games within the environments. Throw some darts, test how hard you punch, even play some old arcade games like Breakout. This welcome change of pace adds variety and rounds out the experience nicely. If you enjoyed Drunkn Bar Fight but found it a bit aimless, the story mode, light exploration, and big boss battles make this feel like a complete game.
This is a full 360-degree experience so you’ll want to clear some space for this. This is especially true if like me you intend to physically kick whilst button mashing. I’d really recommend a good 2.5 x 2.5 minimum playspace if you have it, although the game will run fine with less, you’ll just need to utilize snap turning more rather than turn yourself. I used my Fitbit Charge 2 to record heart data and wore a headband and used a VR Cover to keep sweat out of my headset. I carried out the playtest on my Oculus Quest so that I didn’t have to be tethered to a cable and was, therefore, able to turn freely.
- Calories burned: 201
- Calories per minute: 7
- Average heart rate: 141
- Max heart rate:154
- Active Minutes:30
As you can see I really got my heart up with this game. It reminds me in some ways of Ninja Legends. Simple fighting, no physics, but constant action and from every direction. For a fitness game that’s exactly what made Ninja Legends such a great exercise game, and it works almost as well here too. This game isn’t quite as frenetic as Ninja Legends, but it will certainly get your heart up and keep it there if you put the effort in.
As expected of a game that primarily involves punching people you’ll get a decent arm and shoulder workout here. The punch animations are canned, meaning a light tap counts the same as a huge swing, but playing the game I never noticed, and always swung for the fences regardless. Basically you get out of it what you put in, so punch as if you mean it!
Legs 4 or 7/10
Leg usage is subjective depending on how you play. If you’re using a tethered PC headset like the Rift S then you probably won’t be turning physically as much, and depending on how long your cord length is you might be fairly stationary. On the Quest, I never needed to use snap turn and instead just changed direction using my legs, and also had a fair bit of room to move about. Critically, when I pressed a button to kick, I would physically throw a corresponding kick with the appropriate leg. This way I got a decent leg workout in. Thankfully I was alone so nobody could see what an idiot I looked, depending on your home situation your mileage may vary.
Core and Balance 7/10
As with legs, I think the headset used makes a difference here. On Quest with the ability to manually turn at will, you’ll be activating your core a lot more than if using a tethered headset with a cord you don’t want to twist up. I was punching and kicking with abandon throughout the playtest and felt my core got a decent workout from all sides.
Time Perception 8/10
The levels are a lot of fun and all look very different from each other. Both the environmental hazards to throw enemies onto and available weapons are unique to each level giving them all a very distinct feel. The combat, however, is largely identical and you fight all enemies the same way. Therefore you probably won’t want to play for more than 30-minute bursts at a time. It’s perfect for a half-hour workout session though,
The game has a good 4 or 5 hours of content here including all the mini-games, and personally, I’m looking forward to going through it again. There are unlockables you get from successfully playing games between levels along with different powerups won by defeating bosses. Stages, including boss battles and mini-games, get unlocked once-beaten meaning you can replay your favorite sections whenever you want. There are no skill levels, however, which is a little disappointing. I’d love to see an insane mode as with Ninja Legends where enemies are super fast and dangerous.
Fitness Scalability 8/10
Punches in this game really correspond to button presses, so whether you throw your hardest punch or just waggle your arms the punch counts the same. This means that people of all fitness levels can play this. Of course, if you really want to throw hard and make it a workout nothing is stopping you and the game certainly feels more fun that way. Playing using snap turn and pressing buttons to kick would be very low impact, whilst fast manual turning. physically kicking and punching hard will give you a decent workout.
Lack of Nausea 7/10
This game does use smooth locomotion, meaning you push your trackpad to move. This will inevitably mean that some VR newcomers or those especially sensitive will get motion sick. That said I experienced no issues whatsoever, so I think regular VR users will be fine with this game.
Social Competition Coming Soon!
The game released as a single-player game only to make The Game Award launch date but Twisted Pixel has confirmed two-player coop is coming. That should be a blast and I’ll update the review accordingly if/when multiplayer gets added in.
Rift S versus Quest
Quite honestly, on Rift S I found this game to be a fairly mediocre experience. The graphics are ok for a PC title but not outstanding, and the tugging of the cord made playing such an active game a frustrating affair. I didn’t want to turn physically as I hate twisting up my headset cable so I used snap turning and it just wasn’t that much fun.
However on Quest its a different story. Graphically the game is practically identical to its PC counterpart, meaning it looks absolutely fantastic for a mobile game. The big difference though is being wireless. Without the restriction of a cable this game takes on another dimension and you can really fight and move as intended. I love this game on the Oculus Quest and wholeheartedly recommend it.
This game joins Ninja Legends and Thrill of the Fight as being one of those games that are simply hands down superior on the wireless Quest. Visual compromises are barely noticeable and the additional freedom literally makes the game.
VRFI Fit Score 8/10
I had a great time with the Path of the Warrior. If you’re old enough to remember the late 80’s and early 90’s gaming scene this title will charm you by bringing back those childhood memories and turning them into a 21st-century gaming experience.
The game is fun and has the potential for some serious cardio providing you put in the effort. If you have an Oculus Quest and enough room to move around then its an overwhelming recommendation. I didn’t like the PC version so much, the cable bugged the hell out of me as this is a game you’ll want to be able to turn 360 degrees in.
A fast-paced game with Twisted Pixel’s typical style and flair
The Quest version is gorgeous and runs incredibly well
Great nostalgia trip down memory lane
Rather simplistic judged by PC VR standards makes for a much better mobile game.
Sucks to play with a cable.
Path of the Warrior is an Oculus exclusive title for both Rift and Quest. It supports cross-buy meaning if you buy one version you automatically get the other for free.