Exploring stylish and mysterious worlds is a brilliant formula that has been flourishing in the indie scene for years so here's The Pathless.
The Pathless has you play as a hunter whose job it is to rid an island of a curse. Upon starting the campaign, your only abilities include running at high speeds, leaping high into the air, and firing arrows via a bow at targets in order to acquire energy that depletes whenever you run. At this point, I didn't quite know what to expect from the gameplay because it sort of just throws you into the middle of this world with little explanation. However, after mastering the introductory area via restoring light to a few pillars, you gain access to a falcon and that changes the gameplay dramatically. For starters, this falcon can fetch and carry things, allow you to glide, and can even let you double-jump. Upon levelling up, you can jump even more times which grants you access to higher planes within the expansive environments. Anyway, this open-ended gameplay formula makes exploration a great deal of fun that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Although many games opt for eye-popping realistic visuals, The Pathless is dripping with artistic style and gorgeous character animations that really bring its imaginative world to life. I must admit; at this point in my life, I much prefer stylish graphics as seen in games like this as opposed to photo-realistic visuals. For example, your falcon might get hurt from time to time and you must pet it in order to restore it to its former self and doing so looks stunning as you slowly move your hand across its feathered body. On top of this, the environments are huge and look great with plenty of faraway sceneries and up-close details that are a treat to discover. With that being said, I found that the environments started to overstay their welcome after a while because you spend an exceptionally long time in each one. On the other hand, whenever the fire encroaches and you enter a stealth or combat scenario, it looks amazing.
Yes, that's right; The Pathless isn't just about exploration as there are ancient beasts who don't seem to particularly appreciate your presence. Sometimes, you'll have to simply hide from them as you slowly work your way to your injured falcon while other times, you'll have to actually face them in an epic combat scene. This involves dodging attacks and firing arrows at targets whenever they're exposed. Also, you can send your bird to perform a final strike whenever an enemy is weakened enough which is satisfying stuff indeed. Speaking of satisfying, discovering how to light up all of the towers as you explore the massive island and solve its many puzzles makes for one rewarding formula that offers an impressive sense of accomplishment at every substantial step.
With all of that being said, there isn't much of a challenge within any of The Pathless' many gameplay scenarios. At first, I found myself getting lost occasionally but after realising that equipping the mask basically shows you where you can go next, I found progressing to be a piece of cake. The stealth segments are extremely forgiving, too, and you can basically master them without putting much effort in as long as you have enough patience to sit behind an obstruction for a few seconds while waiting for a beast to turn its head. The boss fights are surprisingly easy, too, although they look extremely threatening. You can essentially dodge their well-telegraphed attacks with ease before shooting their weak points for massive damage then getting your falcon friend to swoop in for the final blow. It might take a little while to get to that point in a few of the seemingly epic confrontations but it rarely poses a significant challenge.
Its stylish visuals and slick gameplay make The Pathless stand out as a truly epic experience. If the concept of whipping around massive intricate environments at ridiculous speeds while solving puzzles and taking down bosses appeals to you then definitely check it out.
- + Massive stages that are thrilling to explore at breakneck speeds
- + Gorgeously stylish visuals
- + Rewarding sense of accomplishment
- - Doesn't really pose much of a challenge
- - Environments get kind of stale after a while