By: Quinn Potter
Here we have another quirky, geek-inspired game based on a deep love of physics (Hello, Schrodinger’s Cat). This time you are a subatomic particle traveling on a track through deep space. Fermi’s Path doesn’t rely on cartoonish representations of The Particle Zoo, however. This time, it’s real. Cruise through space on a track that makes it look as if you are encountering authentic subatomic particles and more.
Controls are extremely simple: A is jump, LT and RT move left and right. You’re just trying to stay on a single rail (like a train on a track), so the controls don’t have to be very complicated. That being said, however, you’re going to want to master these super-responsive controls on the early levels because it’s going to pay off as the levels increase in difficulty. Yes, you can re-map, but there’s really no need.
First, let’s set the scene. You are basically in the set of Tron with super-sharp, modern-day graphics for close-up items and fuzzy, smooshed-looking objects in the background. This can be a bit disorienting – or even anxiety-inducing if you happen to be as prone to motion sickness as one of my fellow gamers. Honestly, I’m not sure why Fermi’s Path presents in such an offbeat way and I wonder if the move from Steam to Xbox One hurt the graphics more than helped. Whatever’s going on, it’s certainly jarring.
The music is good — or it should be — but it’s so faint that it’s barely noticeable. Sound effects for jumping and shooting are also very quiet. This is disappointing because the electronic beat can certainly help you get into the proper mental state to bounce around and navigate the field. The soundtrack varies with each level and can be a good motivator to get your blood pumping, but only after you’ve really cranked it up a bit.
Fermi’s Path starts off with no back story or main character. When you start the first level, you will be launched into a very short tutorial that teaches you the controls. After that, you, my dear subatomic particle, are on your own.
As you cruise along this highway in your nifty subatomic particle form, you’ll be bouncing to the beat to collect points, dodge other particles, or get in dog fights. After successfully navigating a level in Path mode, you’ll unlock Infinite mode. In the second mode, you can cruise around to your sweet little heart’s content to really pile up the points.
When you reach the end of each level, you are teleported to the level selection screen. There are 20 levels and you can choose easy, medium, or difficult modes. Although it doesn’t seem overly challenging at first, you might want to stick with easy mode for your first time through the whole game, as the difficulty increases sharply with each level.
If you really, really know your physics, you might get a little kick out of unlocking achievements with names like Higgs Boson, Quantum Leap, Invisible Dimension (oohhh, finding secret paths!), and Particle Symbiosis (weapons upgrades – yes, you have a weapon, but you rarely use it). But, yeah, you have to know a bit about physics if you’re going to get this kind of humor.
Fermi’s Path is an arcade title with pep and attitude – but it’s a lot more fun if you get the references to physics, enjoy this kind of game, aren’t prone to motion sickness, and can quickly master the controls. If you don’t have those factors going for you, you’re going to discover an odd little game about dodging things, but you won’t want to stick around too long.