The Pathless is an Action-Adventure game developed by Giant Squid and published by Annapurna Interactive. It marks Giant Squid’s attempt to follow up on their success with previous games of the same genre. It’s an Action-Adventure game with a strong focus on movement, reminiscent of titles like Journey and Abzu.
In The Pathless, players step into the shoes of the Last Hunter, tasked with cleansing a mystical land corrupted by an ancient evil known as the Godslayer. The game revolves around exploring a mysterious island, solving puzzles, and engaging in intense boss battles to lift the curse afflicting both humans and gods.
At its core, the game presents a classic hero’s journey narrative. The game’s mystical world, though somewhat clichéd, manages to immerse players in a fantasy setting filled with intriguing lore and enigmatic landscapes. The corrupted plateaus and their cursed guardians set the stage for an adventure that sparks curiosity. While the story doesn’t break new ground in terms of narrative innovation, it adheres to the tried-and-true formula of a heroic quest against a formidable evil. This familiarity can be comforting for players who enjoy classic storytelling in video games.
However, The Pathless leans heavily on well-worn fantasy tropes, resulting in a story that may feel unoriginal to those seeking a more unique narrative experience. The setup of cleansing corrupted lands and defeating an ancient evil lacks distinctiveness. The narrative focuses primarily on the overarching quest, leaving little room for in-depth character development. The protagonist and supporting characters may come across as somewhat one-dimensional. This may primarily be the result of the story following a linear path, where players can anticipate most of the plot developments, although, there are few unexpected twists or narrative surprises.
The game’s mechanics revolve around movement, puzzle-solving, and boss battles. It has a distinctive movement mechanic centered around a bow, which serves both for traversal and puzzle-solving. Shooting talismans to gain speed and stamina creates a thrilling sense of momentum. The game offers a variety of puzzles that are generally well-crafted and satisfying to solve. It also features boss battles that provide excitement and challenge. The initial chase sequences and sprawling battles against corrupted deities inject moments of intensity into the gameplay.
However, these mechanics, while unique, can become repetitive, particularly after acquiring an eagle companion. The puzzles, though well-designed, eventually feel formulaic, and boss battles, while exciting initially, follow a predictable pattern. The absence of a map and minimal guidance can be challenging, and some may find it off-putting. However, The Pathless boasts an impressive presentation and exhilarating speed in movement, even though it doesn’t fully capitalize on these strengths due to repetitive gameplay elements.
The game’s world is a visual masterpiece. Its sprawling landscapes, mysterious environments, and captivating art style immerse players in a visually stunning experience. Exploring the world is the highlight of the game. The music, composed by Austin Wintory, enhances the sense of adventure and danger.
On the Xbox Series X, the game runs smoothly without significant issues. Whether in its native 4k 30 FPS mode or slightly lower resolution 60 FPS mode, it’s nothing short of breathtaking. The seamless transition between these modes adds to the overall experience. Personally, I found the Resolution mode ideal for cutscenes, while the Performance mode enhanced nearly every other aspect of the game.
The Pathless offers a visually stunning world, clever puzzles, and a unique movement mechanic that may appeal to some players. However, its repetitive nature in puzzle-solving and boss battles, combined with a somewhat cliché story, keeps it from reaching its full potential. While completionists may find value in exploring every nook and cranny, others might feel that more inventiveness and a less cliché narrative would have elevated the game. It’s a game worth trying, especially if you appreciate unconventional movement mechanics and captivating visuals, but it falls short of being a masterpiece.
The Pathless – Review
When the issues of a game are rolled and stomped by its greatness, then it’s something to invest on if you have some spare.