App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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With just one look at Crescent Moon's latest release, The Deep Paths, it's plain to see that it's a game designed in the style of an old-school, first-person, dungeon-crawler, much like the beloved Legend of Grimrock. While games like these certainly have a history of being pretty hardcore and difficult to play, The Deep Paths has a few too many tough design choices and issues to feel enjoyable.
At the very outset of The Deep Paths, you are asked to make a party of up to four characters, choosing between three classes (warrior, rogue, and mage) without any explanation of how or why you should build this team. From here, you control all four party members from a first-person perspective as you travel through a legendary labyrinth in search of the mysteries within.
The first level of this labyrinth serves as a sort of tutorial, which introduces players to the game's movement control system in the lower left corner of the screen and other mechanics that include puzzle-solving and combat. After that tiny introduction though, you're completely on your own to discover what The Deep Paths has to offer.
In the tradition of first-person dungeon-crawlers, The Deep Paths moves at a pretty stilted pace. It is technically a real-time game, but every movement that you make has a delay built into it. This means that traversing down hallways moves one step at a time and combat involves lengthy cooldowns on even basic attacks.
While this doesn't sound like the smoothest experience, the game is designed so that moving at that pace is necessary. Because you have to manage the health and attacks of four different party members simultaneously, slowing down everything makes doing so a bit more manageable.
A messy path
The lack of explanation and slow pace of The Deep Paths aren't super surprising elements of a game that is mimicking older game design, but when you combine those with overly clunky controls, a bland visual style, and a healthy dose of bugs, it makes the whole experience a really hard pill to swallow.
Even at a slower pace, The Deep Paths can be hard to control because of how strange some of its controls are. Many times when playing the game, I got frustrated because of how the game separates actions like picking up vs. using objects with different, confusing input methods.
Picking things up can get even trickier when you consider that the brown stone aesthetic of every single environment in The Deep Paths is so similar to common items like leather armor and arrows that seeing items to pick up is way more difficult than it needs to be.
These issues pale in comparison to the bugs in The Deep Paths though. In my time with the game I had a puzzle break on me to the point that I had to start the whole game over and several of my saves got deleted or couldn't be overwritten at certain times for no apparent reason. This made my time with The Deep Paths a huge exercise in making multiple saves constantly to make sure I could just progress through the game without having to restart from scratch... again.
The bottom line
Bugs are the main thing that bring The Deep Paths down, but even if the technical side of the game got ironed out, I'm not sure it would be a particularly great game. It lacks a lot of personality and moves at such a slow pace that I'm not sure how much it would appeal to even old-school dungeon-crawler fans.