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A Twisted Path to Renown – Early Access First Impressions

A Twisted Path to Renown is an extraction shooter developed by Game-Labs, the team behind the Ultimate General series. The game launched on Steam early access on June 6 and promises a unique blend of PvEvP firefights, deep crafting, and a player-driven economy, all set in a gritty 19th century Wild West world. The gameplay is similar of that to Marauders where you have some basic starting equipment and you perform raids which are short encounters, try to loot precious items and then extract. The “twisted path” comes from the constant threat: if you die, you lose everything you brought in.

I was turned off initially by the sheer difficulty of the game. The graphics are great but your position on the map is not tracked and there were no tips to tell me where I should go or what I should do. Persistence saw me eventually completing raids and looting some gear, though there were some frustrations along the way. Learning the map and the extraction points is the longest thing it took me to master, and I still don’t know where some of the locations are. I could just ask Google, but I do like to try learn things myself before giving up and googling. One starting tip I will give you is that the big snowy mountain on the horizon is your north star – use that to help you navigate the map.

Like in Marauders, you are given a heap of basic gear to get yourself going. However, what’s not like Marauders is that you need to hire mercenaries to take into the field, and they come with their own starting items as well as some negative traits. The items are of poor quality such as your clothing only being ~40% efficient as well as your weapons, and your ammo type is such that it will give off a thick puff of smoke when fired. As such, one of the first things I try to do each run is get a lay of the land for where I am dropped in, which is marked by an X on the map, and then looking for small points of interest that are likely to only have 1-3 npcs to take out. Kill one or some of them and take their gear as it will no doubt be better than what you started with.

You only have small backpacks and side bags to be able to loot items in A Twisted Path to Renown. Some items take 1 inventory square, others two, while tools and larger items will take up many slots, and most you won’t be able to loot until you find bigger bags, or risk taking bigger bags in from your starting inventory. However, you always must remember that if you die, you lose everything, including the character you hired. If you managed to complete some successful raids and levelled up this character, taking them back in always has a risk that you die and you lose all that effort. You really need to be confident in your skills and map knowledge to take levelled up characters back in, and you’ll have more courage to do so if grouped with real life mates.

Items you can loot range from food and drink, which is vital to your survival and longevity in the current raid, weapons, ammo, healing items, animal skins/bones, and crafting gear. You must then make it to an extraction point to retain those looted items. Some extraction points require specific items, so be sure to check the extraction point list which updates as time goes on. Once you have successfully extracted, the option to craft your own gear and participate in a player-run auction house adds another layer of strategic planning for future raids. The auction house requires you to be level 5 to use so it does take many raids to earn that level, and more so for someone like me who dies a heck of a lot.

The world itself of A Twisted Path to Renown is beautifully crafted, with dusty towns and sprawling landscapes begging to be explored. Imagine traversing vast canyons bathed in the golden light of a setting sun, only to discover a hidden bandit camp nestled amongst the rocks. The gun customisation options, offer a taste of the depth promised in the final product. Instead of being restricted to a pre-defined set of weapons, you might eventually tinker with different barrels, sights, and grips to create a personalised arsenal.

Weapons feel authentic, though remembering the starter weapons are very low quality so are prone to seizing or misfiring, often at the worst of times. Also remembering you need to manually reload, and sometimes after each shot depending on the weapon. I was too used to modern weaponry in games that auto-reload, so it took me a while to adjust to this. It’s not an easy game to play.

There are no name plates over enemy characters, so you don’t know if you’re fighting a npc or a real player. The npc firing accuracy is quite accurate, especially over larger distances – far more accurate than my own shots. I am learning to tell a player apart based on their movements where they are usually sprinting around whereas npcs will just run at a slow and steady pace. The other aspect that really bugs me is the pain mechanic.

I totally understand that if you are shot, it’s going to slow you down, throw off your vision and so on. In this game your vision blurs, a shroud of darkness creeps in and your speed is significantly slowed depending on the injured body part(s). It is near impossible to see more than a few feet in front of you when you are in a pained state. The only things I could make out where gaps between trees, and then the puff of smoke when an enemy is shooting at me. However, with the AI’s firing accuracy, usually I was killed in a couple more shots.

After a while, as soon as I was hurt enough to gain the pain state, I just could not see so had no choice but to just run at them and suicide basically. Rather than struggle through the pain and attempt to take a potshot every now and then, I preferred to just end the run and start a new one. I believe the pain effects are being revised in a near future update coming to A Twisted Path to Renown, so it will be interesting to see how it plays after that patch as it is one thing holding me back from playing more.

So far, the core loop of raiding, looting, and crafting holds promise, and the player-driven economy has potential to be a great gameplay experience, particularly if you like the wild west theme. If you’re a patient player willing to brave some bugs for a glimpse of a promising future, then A Twisted Path to Renown is definitely worth persisting with. I am certainly keen to watch this game develop over the early access period.

This review utilised a key provided by Mark Allen PR and A Twisted Path to Renown is available now on Steam early access.


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