When it comes to next-gen console launches, AAA titles like Demon’s Souls and Spider-Man: Miles Morales garner the most attention. This is understandable due to their massive marketing budgets, but smaller releases—like Giant Squid Studios’ The Pathless—shouldn’t be overlooked. The $49.99 fantasy game is a visual stunner that satisfies with its puzzle-platforming gameplay mechanics. The Pathless is the opposite of the big-budget showcases that most people want from their launch titles, but that’s to the games benefit. The Pathless is decidedly chill experience that’s worth a pick up.
Cleanse the Land
In The Pathless, you play as a nameless hunter who’s tasked with ridding the land of an evil curse brought down by the main antagonist. There isn’t much in the way of narration. Instead, you’ll learn about this mysterious world from notes left behind by deceased hunters. Despite The Pathless’ minimalist storytelling, you’re compelled to push ahead and rid the land of its affliction. This is due in no small part to The Pathless’ main draw.
You traverse the large, open-world maps by shooting floating crystals with arrows. This action propels your body forward. Hitting these crystals in rapid succession keeps you moving. Should you fail to strike a crystal, you’ll quickly lose momentum, forcing you to restart the process. This could have all been an exceedingly frustrating experience, but the traversal mechanic is quite simple since you automatically lock on to crystals when you aim at them. Once you master it, you’ll find that The Pathless’ traversal system is one of the most enjoyable ways to exploring a video game world.
Besides bosses, there aren’t enemies to fight as you shoot across the land. This isn’t an action-focused title like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Instead, you’ll contend with numerous puzzles and platforming sections. True to its moniker, The Pathless doesn’t provide you with a clear direction. There’s no mini-map or quest log to guide you. Instead, you must use your character’s spirit sense to find objects of interest.
The best way to locate objectives and secrets is by climbing tall structures (both natural and artificial) and getting the lay of the land. The world turns blue when using spirit vision, with objects of interest turning red. Your main objectives are massive towers containing keys that unlock barriers that lead you to the area’s boss. Aside from that, you’re free to roam at your own pace and find things in whatever order you wish. The lack of direction will annoy some people, but having the game tell you what to do would negate the title’s purpose.
You’ll gain an eagle companion early in the game. This avian ally helps by moving large objects necessary for solving puzzles, and aids in exploration. By hanging on to its feet, you’ll glide down from high areas. The eagle can also boost you up tall structures. It’s an incredibly useful bird and a stalwart friend.
As you explore, you’ll sometimes get caught in an expanding red force field emanating from the area’s boss. If the field traps you, you’ll be separated from your eagle. To retrieve your feathered friend, you must slowly make your way to him while avoiding the stalking boss. If it sees you, it will attack. The Pathless lacks a death state, however. The only penalty for getting caught is losing stamina-boosting yellow crystals. Still, this isn’t a huge penalty, as the yellow crystals fall near your feet. Though getting caught by a boss doesn’t cause a game over, trying to get to your bird without getting caught is a great thrill.
After bringing down an area’s barriers, you’ll face a menacing boss. These fights are multi-stage events that require you to find and strike the enemies’ weak spots. These vulnerable areas shift as the battle progresses, forcing you to change your strategy. Some battles include mini-platforming sections that further up the stakes. It’s good that boss encounters are appropriately epic, since they are the game’s only true battles.
The Pathless is a highly stylized title that drips with style. From dark forests to snow-covered mountain tops, each location looks like an expressionist painting come to life. As with other PS5 games, you can play The Pathless in either Quality or Performance modes. Quality runs the game in 4K resolution, at 30 frames per second; Performance runs the game in a variable resolution, at 60 frames per second. Though the graphics pop a little more in Quality’s 4K resolution, they’re only marginally better than Performance mode’s visuals. In fact, it’s best to play The Pathless in Performance mode due to the fluid animations that further draw you into the fantasy setting.
Choose Your Own Path
The Pathless brings exploration to the foreground by letting you chart your own adventure-filled course. Its central traversal mechanism is enjoyable, and its various puzzles will challenge, but never frustrate. Even better, boss battles are exhilarating affairs, and the luscious visuals push you to explore every inch of game’s thoughtfully-design lands. The Pathless may not be a AAA, showstopper title for PlayStation 5, but it’s perfect for people seeking a relaxing and rewarding game.
The Pathless (for PlayStation 5)
The Bottom Line
The Pathless is a visual stunner that lets you explore its gorgeous world via an innovative and fun traversal mechanic. It may be modest in scale, but the platformer leaves a big impact courtesy of smart puzzles and exciting boss battles.
The Pathless (for PlayStation 5) Specs
|Product Games Genre||Action|
|Product Price Type||Street|
|Product Games ESRB Rating||E for Everybody|
|Product Games Platform||PlayStation 5|