In the universe of The Pathless, the island was enveloped in a dark curse that destroyed all people. Many tried to fix the situation on their own, but no one returned alive. All hope is for the last hunter – a girl with no name, who will try to return the light to the island and defeat the God-slayer, the villain who took the gods of this world prisoner and put damage on their lands.
Girl and bird
The Pathless was developed by Giant Squid Studios, which released the underwater adventure Abzu. Studio creative director Matt Nava was the artistic director of Journey at thatgamecompany – both his past and new projects are somewhat similar to the famous “Journey.” Extensive beautiful locations, freedom of movement, simple and straightforward controls. At the same time, The Pathless moved a little further from the Journey formula than Abzu and only benefited from this.
To save the enslaved gods, whom the villain managed to brainwash thoroughly, you need to cleanse each of the four regions of the filth. To do this, you have to find stones of light and bring them to several towers. Then get ready to face the god, defeat him and remove the curse from him and the territory.
In training, the heroine finds a special mask that allows her to scan the area for “points of interest.” The eagle helps to drag objects and hover above the ground, and with a bow, the hunter moves faster and solves puzzles.
Where without sentimental scenes!
The gameplay of The Pathless lives up to the game’s name – there is no map or signposts. Climbing higher (for example, on one of the towers) and activating the mask, you see red smoke – something useful awaits there. In some cases, these are the very stones, but there may also be crystals that increase the number of swings available to the eagle. The more of them, the more often during soaring it will be possible to climb higher to reach hard-to-reach places and stay in the air longer.
Thanks to such uncertainty, exploring locations is exciting – these are huge territories with many secrets. Bonuses rarely lie on the surface and require you to solve a riddle: either stand at a certain point, shoot at objects in the right order, and then shoot an arrow through the specified number of rings. There are riddles with mirrors, from which arrows bounce, and they are often combined with the need to light fires, bypassing obstacles.
Sometimes the puzzles are simple, and their solutions are apparent, and sometimes it takes a couple of minutes to think. However, not all collectibles require collecting to complete the story. After defeating the boss, a stele appears, into which they offer to insert extra stones, and there are more of them than I thought.
The eagle takes weights and puts them on the buttons.
Fly, jump, and fly again
The heroine moves unusually. In the normal state, she just runs slowly, but as soon as she fires at the artifact hanging in the air, the stamina scale will fill, and the character will accelerate. After that, it remains only to shoot at all the artifacts in a row, without slowing down the pace – they are in abundance here. It’s much more fun than running from one point to another, and when you combine it with flying and jumping, you risk missing the target altogether, getting carried away by the gameplay mechanics. You try to stay in the air for longer, jump while hovering, shooting at artifacts – thanks to smooth animations and convenient controls, it is difficult to stop.
The only upsetting thing is that sometimes the game takes away all these possibilities. There is always an area covered with filth in an infected region – if you want to get there, you need to run into it and complete a primitive mini-game with saving an eagle. The bird flies off two dozen meters from the heroine, and she must reach her without catching the monster’s eye and remaining motionless if light falls. Inappropriate stealth sequences very often spoil the experience of good games, and in The Pathless, they also look unnecessary. Perhaps this is an attempt to dilute the gameplay, consisting of puzzles and moving around the map, but such interruptions were unnecessary.
First, you do it for the trophy, and then you constantly repeat it for your pleasure.
It’s an entirely different matter – battles with bosses, those very enslaved gods. Divided into several stages, these are some of the most exciting and beautiful episodes in the game – there are chases, archery accompanied by luxurious special effects, and unique mechanics that are not used in the open world. The game, which is already pleasant to the eye, reveals all its cards in these moments, and you will immediately recognize the work of the artists who painted great schools of fish and memorable underwater scenery in Abzu.
Much attention is paid to the disclosure of the universe – although the characters are laconic in the plot itself, the environment does all the work for them. You continuously come across messages left by the dead people: someone tried to hide from the curse, someone killed their colleague. You learn more about each region’s past by reading the inscriptions on the steles – these are not long notes on two sheets but small notes. And the locations themselves can tell a lot without words, with their various destroyed buildings and corpses and skeletons in almost every room.
Conclusion: The Pathless offers a lot of freedom of action, throwing surprises in the form of new puzzles and making the journey from one point to another fun. If Abzu is attracted mainly by the visual side, it is difficult to find fault with the gameplay – except that the stealth episodes strongly contrast with everything else and seem superfluous. A beautiful and cozy adventure for a couple of nights – a great opportunity to escape from tons of autumn blockbusters.
Pros: large locations that are fun to explore; curious puzzles that reward you with useful collectibles moving around the world is exciting thanks to the ability to soar above the ground and accelerate; excellent visual style, especially in boss fights.
Cons: stealth episodes only interfere with the game.
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