Nov 13, 2020In its quest to remove everything that ties it to the bigger games it emulates, The Pathless does lose something in the process. Purifying spirits feels slightly too brief, with their spectacle being overshadowed by the simplicity with which they are dispatched, and the automatic nature of arrow trajectory during puzzles can often make them feel little more than perfunctory at their worst. Nevertheless, The Pathless still excels in spite of these failings, simply because it attempts to tackle the homogenous open-world design in a novel way. Its use of scale imbues the experience with all the grandiosity of a 60-hour title, but the lack of friction and purity of vision means that it accomplishes its epic conflict in a tenth of the time and in doing so manages to leave a real impact.
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Nov 10, 2020Robert Louis Stevenson used to play with his stepson's soldiers when he was sick in bed, an act that seems impossible to disentangle from his rangy, childlike, often febrile imagination. The Pathless is a little chillier than that - there are clear reminders throughout that key people from the team that made this also made stuff like Journey, with its cold poise - but it retains something of that dream of play. Speed and imagination and great beasts burning in the trees. I had fun.
Generally favorable reviews- based on 51 Ratings
Nov 23, 2020Honestly, a big letdown. I really enjoyed Abzu, and I'm generally a fan of this style of game, but The Pathless shoots itself in the foot overHonestly, a big letdown. I really enjoyed Abzu, and I'm generally a fan of this style of game, but The Pathless shoots itself in the foot over and over.
Running around the world, exploring and solving puzzles and such, is great fun. It's peaceful, meditative, but not without challenge- some of the puzzles can be very tricky, but never to the point where I had to look up a solution or anything.
Except... sometimes the mechanics they rely on just fail. There's no aiming- the arrows just fly on their own -which means you are utterly at the mercy of the game's ability to guess what you wanted, especially when it comes to shooting arrows through multiple targets, such has rings or torches. I often found that if I stood even a little bit too close to the first target, the arrow would careen off into space wildly. "Too close" seems to range from "right up against it" to "anywhere within ten feet or so" depending on the exact puzzle. It's a nuisance the first few times, and gradually grows more and more irritating as the game asks you to make increasingly complex shots.
Then there are the stealth sequences, which would be quite easy and simple were it not for the enemy's infuriating tendency to walk directly on top of you for no reason. I once failed one of these sequences the instant it began because the boss spawned on top of me. I came to dread these encounters- which the game will force upon you at least once per region -because my ability to succeed or fail came down to sheer chance.
But the true disappointment is the boss fights. The game's mechanics are utterly unsuited to the type of fights they throw you into. Most fights deprive you of your ability to run (due to there being no way to recharge your spirit gauge) and rely on banal pattern memorization. But the combat is so illegible and meaningless, and the openings where you can actually fire a shot are so blink-and-you-miss-it short, that each fight (beyond the first, which was relatively tame) generally consists of you being batted around, swatted out of the arena repeatedly, and generally bullied by a flame beast until you figure out exactly what the game has in mind.
Once you do reach that point, the tedium sets in, because the game will want you to go through that pattern a dozen or so times before it will let you proceed. The battles go from overwhelming to yawn-inducing in that same instant.
Worse still, the battles don't have any illusion of danger or drama. The consequence for being hit too many times in a row is to be flung out of the arena, which then requires you to walk five feet or so and hop over a railing to restart that phase of the fight. It's amazing that a game with no meaningful fail state can still manage to be brutally unforgiving.
The problem with The Pathless, in the end, is that it wants too badly to be a Real Game. It's like someone made a very good game, then realized they hadn't ticked the boxes for "stealth elements" and "pulse-pounding boss fights" and then not only shoehorned them in, but made them a central part of the game. The rest of the experience rejects them like a mismatched organ transplant.
The ultimate effect of all this is to wear away your patience until you realize, ultimately, that the game is actually quite vapid. It makes a big show of being Very Spiritual, but actually has nothing at all to say. Its message winds up being, "There is no one path to the truth," a sentiment utterly devoid of context or salience even within the story.
I did finish the game, because it's short and I felt like I ought to, and it's not so bad that I had to give up on it in distaste- which is why I give it a 5, I suppose. But this is a game that is so busy undercutting its virtues that I just can't possibly recommend it in good faith.… Full Review »
Jun 26, 2021The Pathless has received near-universal critical acclaim and it's not hard to see why from the premise; it comes from an indie-darlingThe Pathless has received near-universal critical acclaim and it's not hard to see why from the premise; it comes from an indie-darling perspective, touting similar graphics and game mechanics to highly regarded titles such as Journey, Gris and Abzu.
So why am I lamenting rather than lauding its achievements? I'll explain below.
As mentioned, the graphics of The Pathless immediately drew my thoughts back to Journey. Generally nothing overly complex, but smooth and fluid graphics that are similar to cell-shading make for a pleasant first impression. My qualm with these graphics is that I don't think they do the game enough justice, especially in the opening hours where everything is dark and morose. When boss battles commence the graphics show their true colours and this is quite a sight but also falls into being a bit one-dimensional once you see the patterns and style.
The gameplay also leaves a nice first impression but irritated me the longer I played. Shooting the crystals to refill the energy bar can make for skilled traversal, but this fundamental mechanic became very tiring for me and repetitive to the extreme. From what I played, the rest of the game is similarly protracted. I found it very arduous that the game basically lays its progression out before you early on, in that I could see three elongated puzzles and boss fights ahead. I played until after the first boss fight and had had enough of the gameplay because it felt like the path ahead was predictable and monotonous, as well as feeling like I've already experienced the majority of what the game has to offer. Of course I could be wrong, but the game didn't offer anything to show me otherwise.
The story of The Pathless is told via the cliche of picking up dribs and drabs from what are essentially diaries as you explore. You do meet the Godslayer early in the game and I found that rather compelling, and I also don't mind the diary trope as it allows the player to invest in the story at their leisure. However, similar to the gameplay, I didn't find much encouragement to persevere through the irksome puzzles to learn the conclusion, which I'm guessing involves defeating Godslayer and purifying all the land anyway.
Overall, The Pathless is a critically-acclaimed indie darling that just doesn't do it for me. The concept and mechanics work great in theory, but in practice I didn't enjoy a lot of the game. Pathless seems to be inspired by Journey and Gris but misses the crucial lessons from these games, as Gris also dragged on a bit too long and Journey diversified the landscape and didn't have the irritating traversal mechanic. The Pathless may be the game for you, but it's not the game for me.… Full Review »
Nov 23, 2020Definitely not my thing.
The gimmick of shot the bow for dash is just annoying.
And you can not die to bosses, so whats the point of aDefinitely not my thing.
The gimmick of shot the bow for dash is just annoying.
And you can not die to bosses, so whats the point of a having boss?
Story is regular, super cliché… Full Review »