Sometimes you just want to get lost in a fantasy world – where you get to carve out your own path, while exploring how you want and not having your hand held. Well The Pathless from Santa Monica based Giant Squid studio captures just this as well as a whole lot more. It’s worth noting that this was an exclusive for the PS5 launching back in November of 2020, as one of the first wave of launch games for Sony’s newest machine, but it’s now landing on the Xbox systems as well as the Switch.
You play as the last hunter whose sole goal is to hunt down the corrupt God Slayer – who has warped and twisted four ancient gods and has brought darkness over this fantasy fuelled land. So it’s up to you to clear the world from their corruption, as well as find out just what happened to the people who once lived there through scraps of lore you find along the way. It’s a bit of a cliché tale if we are being honest as it plays on more than a few genre traits, with a strong vibe of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to it all. But it holds things together over its 8 or so hour run time, often taking a back seat to the gameplay. There are some really interesting mechanics at work in The Pathless, to travel around you have to hit floating gems that are dotted all around the place with your “magic” bow and once you get going after hitting a few of these talisman it not only feels, but looks so cool as you speed through the vast vistas of the world. But fear not you don’t have to be Robin Hood here, as the game handles the hard part of the aiming, meaning you just have to fire your shot close to the talisman and due to its generous lock-on system, the game will hit that mark 9 times out of 10.
When not hoofing it around you can call in a bit of help from an eagle friend – who is key to the story as it helps you glide around the world, as well as sort of flying later on… once you start levelling up. You can use the power to “flap” which will get you up into the air to… well fall in style, but quickly becomes a key part of your movement set. When not traveling around you’ll be solving puzzles and collecting items which can be used to upgrade yourself and your winged friend. So it’s worth going off the beaten path and exploring. And with the help of the Spirit Mask – an item you find early into the game, things really get opened up and you can truly see much more of the world.
The Pathless’ world is huge and sparsely populated and there is a real epic beauty to things that really hits you when you’re exploring and the games epic score builds and kicks in. Though don’t expect to have a map or for that point any real hints at what to do or where to go. It’s very much suck it and see gameplay, though the Spirit Mask will always help if you are really stumped. The real standout moments in the game though are the boss battles that see you hunting down one of the corrupt gods and cleansing them of the corruption. These are always three stage fights where you first chase them down in a tense battle, before changing to more challenging fights for stage 2 and 3.
Visually the game is simplistic and clean with a crisp art style that evolves as you clear the land of the corruption, with darkness being replaced with light and a wash of colour. Soundtrack wise it fits the tone and scale of the game perfectly and is used sparingly over its time. The Pathless starts out as something special but quickly runs out of gas… sadly as it will have played all its cards by the time you defeat the second boss. This is a real shame as I wanted it to keep evolving in new and clever ways, but it just goes nowhere new. That being said there is a real sense of wonder to its world and gods as well as its fluid movement system that is honestly a fresh feeling. But its current price tag on the new systems makes it a real hard recommend at £33.99 especially when you can grab a boxed PS5 version brand new for £14.95.
An Xbox review copy of The Pathless was provided by Giant Squid’s PR team, and the game is out now on Xbox, Switch and PlayStation for varying prices.
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