The Pathless (PlayStation 5) Review

By Luke Hemming 07.01.2021

Review for The Pathless on PlayStation 5

Developer Giant Squid was hailed for their 2016 outing Abzu, featuring gorgeous visuals and relaxing gameplay. In 2020, The Pathless swoops onto next gen, hoping to achieve the same level of praise and innovation. With a fascinating navigation mechanic, as well as puzzle and boss elements, the concept is worthy of credit, although with a repetitive gameplay even in such a short title, is perhaps a little lost itself.

Dropping anchor on a secluded beach, first impressions are a complete lack of direction. It is slightly jarring and disconcerting to not see a familiar UI and mini-map littering the screen. Immersion is the name of the game here, (well, it's not its actual name), with navigation purely based on player choices of exploration. For most this could seem quite daunting, as well as a slog, seeing sprawling hills and wooded forests blocking the path to a possible objective, but it's here where the magic lies. All movement is achieved through arrows fired at the many targets laid out around the island, and with each successful shot, speed and traversal is heightened.

With a correct path thought out beforehand, players can zig-zag from one end of the landscape to the other in a matter of minutes. By far one of the best parts on offer here is the sense of movement, and the satisfaction of flying from target to target like a speed-force infused Link - connecting well into the next talking point: the Breath of the Wild inspirations are obvious. Even shrouded in darkness, the landscape screams Hyrule in its latest iteration, with characters and gameplay elements to match. Not at all a bad thing, following in the footsteps of one of the greatest games of the past 10 years - although spotting a tower looming in the distance did bring a groan of familiarity.

Screenshot for The Pathless on PlayStation 5

Anyways, in order to cleanse the world of Gano… sorry, Godslayer, each of these towers must be conquered, and in doing so, release a beam of light onto the current area. Completion of each tower requires some simple puzzle-solving, usually taking advantage of the bow initially equipped, and the eagle hetero life partner that completes the duo early on. Never complicated, but always satisfying to complete, these puzzles are the meat on the bones, although even in its short lifespan, can feel repetitive at times. They do however lead to the best part of The Pathless by far, the boss battles.

In each area a legendary beast has been corrupted by the darkness (other legendary beasts in other video games are available), and must be cleansed in order to progress. These battles usually consist of a short stealth section where the eagle buddy must first be rescued while remaining undetected, then escalating into a sprawling battle epic across the majority of the area that has been so recently cleansed. Every takedown is as satisfying as the last, and it's a real shame that there are so little of these battles. Perhaps shifting perspectives to a Colossus-style adventure in a sequel would be a welcome one.

…And in a nutshell, that's essentially it. Visit world with beautiful graphics that will shine on a brand new PlayStation, complete puzzle, unlock boss battle, repeat ad infinitum. Completion can be achieved in around six hours, ignoring the many little distractions littering the landscape. It's very much recommended to explore as much as possible, as sticking to the main progression path quickly leads to repetition. With all sub-distractions complete, a full playthrough takes around 15 hours, and seems and appropriate amount of time to not overstay its welcome. Completionists may also find a little post-game reward for milking it for all that its worth. Crack the Detective-mode inspired Spirit Vision into overdrive, and explore every nook and cranny for best possible results.

Screenshot for The Pathless on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The Pathless is a worthy addition to the minimal release list this early in the PlayStation 5 lifespan. It delivers engaging gameplay, as well as frankly beautiful visuals. The issue is that feeling of familiarity *cough*Zelda*cough* coupled with a lack of activities to indulge in. Too often does this feel like a template of greater things to come, and it's a massive hope that this will spawn a sequel. So many great ideas needing to be expanded upon, mainly the excellent movement, as no game this year has given a greater feeling of speed in its unique traversal system, and along with the excellent boss battles, this comes recommended. Here's to The Pathless 2: Less Travelled.

Developer

Giant Squid

Publisher

Annapurna Interactive, Iam8bit Inc.

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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