Review | The Pathless
With so much attention given to the first party launch games, The Pathless has flown somewhat under the radar. But it shouldn’t, because the second game from developer Giant Squid (the first being ABZÛ) is another great title. Instead of exploring the depths of the sea like ABZÛ, players will take to the land and air in The Pathless in an attempt to purge the curse that has overtaken the area.
Controlling “The Hunter” (voiced by Laura Bailey), players will have to shoot, dash, jump, and fly through the environment to try and stop the Godslayer (voiced by Troy Baker). The Godslayer is the responsible party for the darkness and evil forces throughout the land. Fortunately, “The Hunter” will have an eagle to assist in this formidable physical and mental challenge.
While The Pathless offers fairly standard puzzle and combat mechanics, it’s the traversal mechanic that makes the game unique. At the bottom of the screen, there’s an endurance meter that depletes whenever the player runs. To refill it, floating talismans that are omnipresent in the environment have to be hit with an arrow. If the player is on the ground, this will lead to a speed boost. If the player is off the ground, this will lead to a mid-air dash combined with a jump. The end result is fast, fluid, and sometimes frenetic movement that is extremely enjoyable. It also results in animations from the main character that are simply wonderful to look at.
Another unique aspect is the music. Composed by the phenomenally talented Austin Wintory, the melodies perfectly cascade over the player throughout the game. Blending western and eastern sounds with latin and middle eastern motifs, Wintory absolutely nails it with this work. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given that he also did the music for Journey and ABZÛ. Personally, it reminded me of the music from The Last of Us, but was more hopeful sounding. For fans of video game music (or just fans of music in general), the 2xLP is a no brainer.
However, not everything is unique and enticing in The Pathless. Visually, the game doesn’t offer enough variety, which is surprising given the unbelievable amount of visual variety in ABZÛ. And even though your trusty eagle sidekick is awesome to look at and pet, having her place the dropped items where you want is hit or miss. Finally, the gameplay is very repetitive. Solve some puzzles, put the puzzle keys into designated locations, then defeat the boss, which transforms the land from dark to light. This formula repeats over and over again, which really wears down any novelties and originality that the game offers.
Overall, The Pathless is good, but not great. The game is really hindered by its repetitive gameplay and visuals, taking away from what is initially a very fun experience. A solid voice cast and great music definitely serve it well, but it only takes it so far. It’s more than serviceable for a launch title, but it never soars to the heights that the player hopes for.
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10