The Pathless PS4 Review – Giant Squid, developers of the ever-popular Abzu have once again dropped something weird and wonderful into our lap. The Pathless, on PlayStation 4 is a gorgeous exploration game dripping with charm, puzzles and tells a hearty tale of the battle against darkness. In a place meant not meant for mortals, you arrive to quench the shade, a terrible curse has draped over the land where man meets spirit and gods run free.
The Pathless PS4 Review
The Pathless tells, on the surface, a simple tale. The Godslayer wants to destroy the world and to do so he has corrupted the land and its elegant, animal-like gods with darkness. This title has that Journey-like quality where everything seems very mysterious and things feel like they have a higher meaning just outside of your current consciousness within the game. You explore to learn, you learn by exploring and it’s magical.
Another title that The Pathless really reminds me of is Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Not in a gameplay sense but in the amount of freedom you have to explore, make mistakes and wonder what the hell you are supposed to be doing. Some players require more direction, more hand-holding but the fact that The Pathless gives you very little instruction as to where you are going amplifies your curiosity and drives you onward to look for clues. After all, following map markers is not full at all, is it?
Fast-Paced, Moreish Exploration
The main hooks for the Pathless are the aforementioned exploration and perhaps even better than that, the game’s amazing movement and traversal systems. You can run and you can jump but scattered around the map are idols, floating in the air, shoot them and you will get a speed boost or a boost to your jump whilst in mid-air. These two small details lead to amazing feats of athleticism and performing speedy platforming feats that make you feel wondrous.
You are zipping through trees, jumping over streams and linking it all together by shooting these speed-inducing targets. This system in itself is entertaining, never mind the rest of the game’s many great facets.
While you are flying through the environments like a cross between Usain Bolt and Robin Hood, you come across all manner of puzzles, shrines, and interesting things that catch your eye. That is what is so clever about this game, you do not get told where to go, your curiosity and the brilliantly designed landscape will show you where to go, without you even realizing it. That, along with a magical visor headband thing you rob off a corpse at the start of the game, make sure you’re always progressing, without ever checking a map or looking at a waypoint. It’s beautiful simplicity.
This headband that you stole, or ‘borrowed’ allows you to see gaps between realms. What it really works out to be though is an extra tool you can use to see rough areas that may need exploring or walls and secret doors with puzzles and tasks behind them. These puzzles you encounter will usually reward you with God Tokens, these tokens are used to cleanse Sauron-like beacons throughout that land and allow you to take on the boss of the area.
Large Scale Boss Fights
Each area of the game is ruled by a god that has been corrupted by the Godslayer and resides in an ominous red swirling mass at the centre of each explorable area. These battles, that take place when you have cleansed enough beacons are brilliant. They usually start with a chase sequence where you have to destroy targets on their bodies while avoiding hazards, then they end by a one-on-one face-off in an arena.
Each boss has differences and intricacies you need to work out but they are all fun, fast, and heart-pounding. The chase sequences do have a small hint of Shadow of The Colossus to them, which did bring back a tad bit of nostalgia. The God Tokens you collect to eventually reveal the area’s boss are not the only rewards for exploration and puzzle-solving. During your jaunts across this beautiful land, you collect small gold gems that build up to extra boosts while your eagle companion is carrying you.
Oh yeah, I have not really mentioned the feathered fellow yet have I? Yes, you can pet the eagle! In fact, you will pet the eagle a hell of a lot. I will not spoil how you end up with this loveable winged creature but the eagle does play a big part in your exploration and puzzle-solving.
In an exploration sense, your eagle can be used to hover over larger gaps and be used to shoot up into the air to reach higher plains. In a puzzle-solving sense, he can be used to retrieve weights to weigh down switches, move objects, and help you ride air flows. He does have other story-based quirks but I like to leave some stuff for you to discover yourself. Overall, I found the eagle a great feature of The Pathless in both finding new areas and as a companion to help me solve the game’s many riddles. I love animals though so this game was great all the way through in that sense. It’s brimming with them.
Graphically The Pathless is beautiful. While it has a cartoony look to it, the lighting, world design and overall art-direction give the game a mystical, ancient feeling. The world feels like it has been there forever, it feels lived in, and every second I spent within this attractive world was a joy. The creatures are eerily wonderful, the shrines look worn, and the main character is beautifully designed. Yes, it does look a bit like Journey here and there but that is by no means a bad thing.
On a musical level, again, I adored this game. Accompanying your speedy zipping throughout this world are soothing orchestral tones. Violins, drums and other string instruments really drive home the ancient, god-like mysteriousness that this title portrays to perfection. The music is emotional when required and uplifting when needed. The sound effects perfectly fit what is, frankly, a delightfully sounding game. Both the sound work and graphical presentation go hand in hand with the gameplay to wrap you up in this unique, amazing world.
An Ever-Evolving, Lovely, Pathless Experience
As you can probably tell, I adored this title. Every time I played, I got sucked into this amazingly rich and gorgeous world. The outside world disappeared and the tidal wave of great gameplay, awesome visuals, and beautiful music swept over me.
What really makes it great though is its movement system and the fact you are left to discover what to do by yourself. The game’s great world design leads you on a path of discovery, that no matter what you do, will eventually lead you to where you need to be. It’s called The Pathless because there is no path, you forge your own.
Review code kindly provided by the publisher.