Giant Squid’s second outing with The Pathless continues the studio’s trend of creating absolutely beautiful worlds to explore. Honestly, how open The Pathless is caught me off guard at first. I expected a more linear experience with maybe some bits to veer off the main path. However, in the 4 to 5 hours total of the game, The Pathless provides multiple wide open areas to maneuver about with its excellent movement system and explore every nook and cranny to discover everything the game has for you to find.
The absolute best part of The Pathless is the aforementioned movement system. It’s simple to learn and becomes so fluid once you get going. Scattered throughout the world are floating gems and shooting them fill up a meter at the bottom of the screen that allows you to fluidly sprint across the world at a lightning pace. As you progress through the game, you unlock the ability to flap with your eagle which allow you to get an extra boost in the air and glide around making traversal even easier. Once you unlock more flaps and combine that with the movement mechanics, you can literally zoom around the areas in seconds.
Another thing The Pathless nails is the sense of isolation that exploring an ancient world should give off. That feeling gave me strong Shadow of the Colossus vibes while playing it. For the most part, it is just you and your eagle friend, much like Wander and Agro in Shadow of the Colossus, so I started to feel a strong bond with and attachment to the Huntress and her eagle. Shout out to the option to pet the eagle in the game and clean the darkness off of it if you are in a darkened area.
Unfortunately, when I wasn’t moving so fluidly is when The Pathless started to show some of its issues. Movement when you aren’t sprinting or your meter is completely drained feels too slow and sluggish. This became a problem in later areas as the areas became bigger and the gems became more spread out. The jump that the Huntress has isn’t the best either. When I wasn’t using the eagle’s flap, the jump felt like a ton of bricks which will stop momentum in its tracks. That isn’t the best when movement and speed are the best part of the game.
When you aren’t constantly running around the word exploring, most of the rest of that time will be spent solving puzzles to unlocks artifacts that help cleanse the world or provide orbs of light that build your meter to unlock another flap for your eagle to use. However, some of these puzzles felt very samey with the same basic premise of finding a way to shoot an arrow through a target or torch to unlock an artifact or lantern or chase a group of butterflies around before a timer runs out. Then, with the lack of any sort of map or way to set markers, I found myself back at the same locations multiple times as there was no way to tell where I had been or if I had completed a puzzle already.
The narrative of The Pathless is minimal at first glance. The Huntress is tasked with restoring the world that has been decimated by the terrifying, yet awesomely designed, Godslayer. Though you don’t get much narrative if you just main path the game, once I started exploring more there was plenty of hidden lore that I discovered that gave tons of backstory to what happened in the world of the game and gave insight as to who the Godslayer was.
Aside from the Godslayer, the bosses bring a sense of terror to The Pathless. At the beginning of each area, the Godslayer summons the boss of that area to stop you. While exploring, a storm travels the area you’re in, and, if you get too close, you’ll be caught in the storm and separated from your eagle. You then play a terrifying game of cat and mouse as the boss roams the storm trying to find you. These moments are tense and always had me on edge until I reached my eagle.
Once you clear an area, you traverse back into the storm and the boss battle begins. You spend the first half of the fight chasing the boss down in what is always an exhilarating experience of what feels like a true hunter chasing down their prey. However, once you move to the second stage of the fight, the battles become more traditional of fighting in an arena, dodging attacks, and hitting weak points. Though there’s some neat parts of these sections, they don’t feel nearly as good as the chase does.
Overall, The Pathless is a gorgeous world to explore. The movement system is an absolute blast and made me want more games to have the speedy fluidity this one presents. However, when the movement is hampered, momentum is stalled almost to the detriment of the game itself. Even with those flaws, The Pathless still presents an overall enjoyable experience that I’d recommend based on the movement mechanics alone.
Score: 7 out of 10
Reviewed on PlayStation 5