The Pathless, the review: the new dream game from the authors of Abzu

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Aina Martin
@ainamartin
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While the public's eyes dream of the next gigantic Triple A built with the next generation in mind, developer Giant Squid tries to squeeze his new indie game into the heap again focusing on a marked poetic vein, but this time embellished with a gameplay that, however much simple, it offers challenge, fun and freedom in equal measure. How did it go? Find out in ours review of The Pathless.

Muscles Vs Dreams

For Giant Squid, The Pathless is the second game after Abzu's shy success, remember? Their first work was inserted at the last moment in the great wave of the so-called "walking simulators" which started from Dear Esther, a definition that we do not feel we can support since it was born with the aim of diminishing the quality of experiences that are often very beautiful and satisfying, despite the usual lack of a real challenge. With Abzu, the formula was used to let us explore depths of the sea as familiar in colors and fauna as alien in their alien and alienating beauty.



The game, however, was not a great success precisely because of a not exactly impeccable timing, which led to its debut just as the public began to want something more consistent than a new narrative walk. Why are we telling you this despite The Pathless being a profoundly different experience from Abzu's? For the simple fact that even this new game risks arriving last or almost, at the end of a cycle, as well as at a time when the arrival of the new consoles will inevitably push the public towards more muscular graphics instead of in the arms of the most dreamy one.



Corrupted nature

And damn it if it would be a shame to see this The Pathless sink into indifference, given that we are not talking about a great game but undoubtedly a great game, a precious cross between the beloved Journey and Rime. Here, in the role of a huntress who has just landed on a continuum of plateaus wrapped in magic and mystery, we will have to give her Godslayer, dark, evil entity, able to cloak the natural idyll of senseless corruption. To do this, we will have to free the different areas, one perched on the other on higher and higher slopes, up to the final greaser. The peculiarity of The Pathless is primarily in its displacement system: You walk, run and fly a lot, but these simple actions put the player in an active rather than a passive role.

To move with more boldness than necessary for a simple walk, we will consume a bar that will be constantly filled by hitting these talismans scattered everywhere with the bow and arrows of the huntress. It is not a slow and painful exercise that requires meekness, but the exact opposite: thanks to the automatic aim and the dynamic movements of the protagonist, hitting the talismans while running or flying turns out to be a fun and rhythmic action, as well as necessary. to continue traveling at maximum speed. In addition, continuing the adventure, we will be able to accumulate more power to run and hover in the air longer and longer without having to fill up with magic, slowing down the hunt for talismans every few seconds that distinguishes the first explorations in the world of The Pathless.



Magical highlands

The second most original aspect of The Pathless is also the one that partly explains its title: in this adventure there is no map and the sense of progression is marked by the bosses to be defeated but by no intermediate turning point. By activating the magical view of the huntress we will see in the sky where the runes are located and the towers in which to place them after having conquered them, once we have done this we will finally have the opportunity to challenge the corrupt animal that dominates the area. There is no definite order in which to move, or right or wrong directions in which to explore; as there are no puzzles to solve after instead of before, perhaps because you do not have a particular skill yet. Sure, we won't be able to move on to the next plateau before defeating the boss of the one we're on, but that's good and not bad.

In The Pathless i fighting they happen almost exclusively against bosses, and are practically all focused on the speed of execution of the attacks and the accumulation of magic to continue the chase; the rest of the game focuses exclusively on exploration and environmental puzzles that are never impossible but not predictable. Fortunately, on this journey we will not be alone: ​​an eagle, essential to solve the puzzles, will keep us company: it is she who, for example, will be able to grab and transport amphorae that are often decisive, and it is always she who will allow us to hover in the air to get around the jumps out of the reach of our nimble legs.


Sound forests

A substantial part of The Pathless's charm, however, derives from its colorful setting in visual terms, but monochromatic from the narrative point of view, where every shred of narrative is entrusted to memories of light scattered near lifeless bodies of victims caused by past battles. Like Abzu, The Pathless is a stylistic concentrate that hits hard the lover of beauty, pushing away the slave of absolute photorealism. All supported by one colonna sonora which recalls a new wave of magical workmanship, and which gives foundations in notes to a game that seems to hover in the clouds. The new Giant Squid adventure as we have seen is not particularly elaborate or long-lived (it takes between five and six hours for the credits) but not so original. After all, it is only pure excellence, from a development team that perhaps could now aspire to something more.


Comment

Tested version PlayStation 5 Digital Delivery Steam, PlayStation Store, Xbox Store, App Store, Google Play Resources4Gaming.com

8.0

Readers (22)

8.0

Your vote

The Pathless is built with love and great class, while its gameplay is immediately simple and elegant just like its dreamlike and boundless aspect. On PlayStation 5, where we played it with dynamic resolution and rock-solid 60fps, it travels undeterred without any smudging, with a lukewarm Dualsense support that is entrusted with the tension and vibrations of the protagonist's arc. It does not bring revolutions, nor particular upheavals, but sometimes it is not even easy to be satisfied with one's own spontaneous beauty.

PRO

  • Quality puzzles
  • Great soundtrack
  • Galvanizing movement system
AGAINST
  • Structurally very simple
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