The Pathless shares its DNA with a number of other games; thankfully those other titles are all stellar examples of world building and game design. Whilst The Pathless may not reach the creative heights of games like Shadow of the Colossus or Journey, it is still a valiant attempt at recapturing the magic of those games and is well worth checking out.
The Pathless is out now and is available on PC, PlayStation. It is due to come to Nintendo Switch and Xbox consoles very soon.
There is not a great deal of dialogue which sets up the plot of The Pathless. Instead, this is done through a few un-skippable text screens at the beginning of the game and through environmental storytelling. Giant Squid Studios who are behind development of The Pathless are also responsible for Abzu. As was the case with Abzu, The Pathless is more concerned with building an ethereal atmosphere than it is with telling a detailed narrative.
Thankfully, the gameplay in The Pathless more than makes up for the vague plot. Although The Pathless describes itself as an action/adventure title, in truth, it is closer to a rhythm game. This is due to the main gameplay mechanic of consisting of shooting floating symbols dotted across the environment in order to keep your stamina meter filled up.
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This stamina meter allows you to sprint and parkour your way across the landscape at high speed, creating a palpable sense of momentum and flow. The pace that this mechanic provides feels great and helps to break up what would otherwise be an egregiously slow experience.
These instances of travelling across the map as if you are a shooting star leaping through the skies like an atom bomb are sundered by some light puzzle elements. These puzzles involve directing your eagle companion to lift and drop weighted objects just like Peacemaker and whilst the controls are sometimes finicky in these segments, they do a decent job of providing The Pathless with some variety.
Another element which provides the game with some variety is the boss fights, which are dotted periodically throughout the game. The stealth element that these arena type fights bring into the game change things up initially and feel like a fairly fresh change of pace. However, these boss fights unfortunately get quickly repetitive after the first few battles.
Something else which I discovered through these boss battles was the fact that there is no actual game over screen in The Pathless. Up until the boss fights, the player is never under enough threat to even really consider that the character may be close to death. However, if the boss catches you in their light, they will simply toss you out of the battle arena rather than killing you outright.
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After this happens, it is just a case of travelling back to the location of the boss fight arena and re-entering the red fog. This lack of any real consequence leads to the game feeling more like a casual, unchallenging experience overall. With that said, it also liberates the player to take risks whilst traversing which they might have otherwise avoided, with the only real consequence being a break in momentum.
One thing which The Pathless inarguably has going for it, is the stellar, simplistic beauty seen in the game’s art direction. This distinctive visual style in tandem with the game’s overall smooth presentation makes The Pathless a feast for the eyes and the atmospheric audio will ensure that your ears are not left out of the fun.
Overall, The Pathless has a lot going for it, but unfortunately, the repetitive nature of the experience does clash with the game’s initially novel feel before too long. If you are looking for a pretty looking, atmospheric, casual experience, then The Pathless will be right up your street. However, if you are after something more intricate or intense, then this one may not be for you.
The Pathless – 7/10
The Pathless was played on PC with a code supplied by fortyseven communications.
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