Become the Hunter, a master of archery who travels to a mystical island to dispel a curse of darkness that grips the world. Forge a connection with your eagle companion and soar through the air. Perform fluid acrobatics and execute awesome trick shots with a unique archery system that allows effortless shooting while moving at high speeds.
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Reviewed on: PS5, iOS
Also available for: PS4, PC, Mac, tvOS
Cast: Laura Bailey, Troy Baker
Developer: Giant Squid
Creative Director: Matt Nava
Technical Directors: Derek Cornish, Cosmo Fumo
Somewhere between Journey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Shadow of the Colossus is The Pathless. Developer Giant Squids follow up to ABZÛ features a vibrant and unique art style alongside a journey about saving a planet and its people. Similar themes to their previous game. However, in The Pathless, an open world awaits you with monsters to be stopped. Still, this somehow one of the most relaxing games you can play on your PS5 right now, even with massive monsters and fights ahead of you.
You play as The Hunter. They’ve travelled to a mystical island to end a curse that’s plaguing the world. The Gods of this island have been taken over by a poisonous dark cloud, corrupting them from the good spirits they once were; each roaming about one of the games four areas with a literal storm following them. It’s up to The Hunter, alongside an eagle companion, armed only with a bow and arrow, to save each of these creatures.
Although the island is broken up into four distinct areas, you can travel from one from the first to the last uninterrupted by the end of the game thanks to the games movement system. Spread closely throughout the island high and low are diamond talismans. If you hit one with an arrow, it will let you run at high speed for a time. Talismans can also help keep you in the air as your eagle enables you to glide. It can seem weird at first to see all of these talismans throughout the island; my collectaphone-brain was getting distracted thinking I need to pick them all up at first. After some time, I got used to it and began finding the movement system relatively intuitive. You don’t have to aim at the talismans either which helps the system work. The Hunter will auto-aim at the closest talisman in your direction, and you simply need to press down on the R2 button to fire. As you progress through the game further, you’ll unlock different levels of ‘flaps.’ Although silly in the title, these let you eagle lift you up into the air.
The Pathless – iOS
The Pathless launched on Apple Arcade day-and-date as the PS/PC versions, and I tried it out on my iPhone 12 Pro to see how it holds up.
The core gameplay experience remains the same, and you can play with a controller or touch controls. Unfrotuanlty, the game has a barely playable frame rate. When you’re moving slowly around the world there are no problems, it seems to be a solid 30fps, but pick up speeds or begin any of the more intense action scenes in the game and it seemed to drop to below 20fps with major stuttering happening on-screen.
It’s disappointing, especially since the newer iPhones should be powerful enough to handle the game and even achieve 60fps, even if the game removed some graphical options. The Pathless needs to be close to the 60fps mark to be enjoyable as you’re always moving at such high speeds.
Giant Squid has put a lot of attention into the movement system in The Pathless. Somewhat necessary as there is no fast travel in the game. There’s not even a map. At first, I did find it somewhat overwhelming. But after 30-60 minutes of playing, I felt at home in the first area of the game. As my brain began check-marking landmarks, I was able to get my bearings. If you ever get lost, you can always see a tower closeby and climb it to get a better view of the world around you.
The goal in each of the games four areas is simple: find lightstones and use them to ignite three towers. Finding potential lightstone locations is as simple as pressing L1 which activates a special mask the Hunter picks up at the beginning of the game. Red auras will cover areas off in the distance or close by where you may find a lightstone. It’s not quite as intuitive as the guiding-wind implemented by Sucker Punch in Ghost of Tsushima, but it does the job of guiding you from one location to another.
Earning the lightstones is where the games Breath of the Wild inspirations feel most evident. You’ll sometimes need to solve a simple puzzle by having your eagle move some stones around to open a gate; others you’ll need to fire arrows off mirrors and through fire pits. The puzzles are relativity simple throughout the game. There’s no major mechanic change-up thrown in at any point; they simply get slightly more complicated as the game progresses. Most importantly, I did enjoy solving them. The more challenging puzzles would take 5-10 minutes to solve and invoke just enough brainpower to have me excited by the time I’d cracked the solution.
Once you’ve activated all three towers in an area, it’s onto fighting the creature. Each fight is broken up into two or more phases. The first is a chase. With the light towers now weakening the beast, you’re able to enter its storm and begin to sink arrows into it. You’ll have to dodge their attacks and keep up your speed by firing arrows at talismans as you go. The second and sometimes third phases are your more typical 3D action game fights. Dodge some attack patterns, land some arrows.