A misty world, an evil emperor and its corrupted servants
Developer: Giant Squid
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Release Date: 12 Nov, 2020
The Pathless is an action-adventure game from the creators of ABZÛ where you impersonate a hunter fighting a curse on a mystical island: once a peaceful land, the island and the four spirits that inhabit it have been corrupted by a dark figure, the Godslayer, that then flew to a dark floating island to become a god. In your journey, you’ll have to free the four spirits, in order to have the power to reach the Godslayer’s island and attempt to defeat him, this via simple and yet incredibly dynamic gameplay, in a world where you are not forced onto any path.
Reach for the Eyes
The first trait that makes The Pathless stand out is that it is a very dynamic title: during your journey, you’ll run, jump and fly a lot around the island, but this isn’t done leaving the player passive, but rather in an active role. This is because, in order to cover distances in a quicker way, you’ll have to shoot the little paper-eyes-things that are scattered around the world: hitting one of them with an arrow will replenish your stamina, allowing you to run for a while longer. This system, in its extreme simplicity (the character auto-aims at the nearest eye, so this whole thing requires just a button press) makes travelling around the island interesting, since it can be used not only to run faster, but also for jump mid-air and, in a way, fly around the map.
In addition to this movement system, you can also fly around using your eagle companion: this allows you to reach greater heights, even if your eagle can flap its wings only a limited amount of times before getting tired. If you cannot go up, you can always go down slowly by using it to glide, admiring the beautiful landscapes the game has to offer.
Unfortunately, not everything in The Pathless is pretty and, during the adventure, you’ll have to deal with the danger presented by the spirits corrupted by the Godslayer. These will roam around their part of the map, with a thick red fog around them. Getting too near means losing our eagle companion, that in turn will have to be rescued while also staying away from the sight of the terrible beasts at the center of the fog.
Even during these events, the developer proved their capability of creating the right atmosphere at the right moment: the world inside the fog is in fact completely different, almost becoming a hell on earth, and a strong sense of danger arises. This is accentuated by the fact that, whereas the game is normally very fast and dynamic, these sections have instead a very slow rhythm, dictated by the presence of a powerful beast looking for us.
The main objective in The Pathless is to gather tokens. These you can then use for purifying the creatures’ towers and ultimately removed their curse after a boss battle. The tokens are scattered around the map, they’re not hard to find, but you’ll have to solve a (most of the time rather simple) puzzle to unlock each one of them. There are three towers per creature, and purifying each tower of a certain creature will allow you to fight it: boss battles a well designed and make good use of the game’s mechanics, but are also nothing groundbreaking.
While I’ve already talked about how good the different environments are, I really must stress of much work has been put into the graphical style of this title. I’m not only speaking about the beautiful landscapes, but also of the different spirits’ designs, both in their corrupted and original forms. Just like ABZÛ, The Pathless moves away from the photorealistic graphics of other games, in favour of a more poetic approach.
The Pathless isn’t a long, complex or even innovative game for the genre. It is just an incredibly beautiful title that will keep you hooked until the final credits. If you loved ABZÛ, you’ll simply love this game, too.