In a landscape in which mainstream games, whether good or not, regularly move around the usual proposals, the indie titles are those that usually offer experiences that they go out of the common areas.
For that notion to remain valid in this transition period to the new generation of consoles comes The Pathless, a third-person adventure developed by Giant Squid and published by Annapurna, a name that moviegoers will find familiar, since it is an independent production company that since 2012 has been linked to the co-financing of film works of the caliber of Her, The Master Y Phantom Thread.
In The Pathless An ancient island located on the edge of the world has been invaded by a sinister entity that has spread darkness and that seeks to undo existence as we know it.
Many have unsuccessfully ventured to the island to stop the entity, but now it is the turn of the last Huntress, an archer who will be assisted by a holy eagle on his way to stop the darkness, and who must free ancient gods that have been corrupted to gradually free each region of the island from the clutches of darkness.
As with the films produced by Annapurna – in which there are elements that the general public can identify, such as prestige distributions in author proposals that do not follow the logic of the Hollywood blockbuster-, The Pathless is a third person title that takes place in a huge forest in which each section has a boss to defeat.
So far everything is familiar, but since its inception the game has distinguished itself, beyond its visual style, for its mechanics and for its commitment to reduce to its most basic element the meaning of a gaming experience.
Talking about a third-person adventure that takes place in a huge forest invites us to think about what The Pathless is a game in which commands, movements, powers, items and specials abound, but it is surprising that here the gameplay is based on a simplistic control scheme.
Move fluently in The Pathless involves pressing R2 to shoot arrows the talismans that are scattered throughout the world, and press L2 to running fast thanks to the bar that is filled by reason of each destroyed talisman.
The point is try that the fluidity of movement is uninterrupted and that is why while running you will have to pay attention to the talismans that are around to shoot them and keep the bar as full as possible, which makes L2 and R2 the main pairing of this control scheme.
Likewise, X is used to jump and – once the Eagle has joined the adventure – to glide through the air and flap, which serves to reach high places that are difficult to access.
Circle is a general interaction button and Triangle is used to activate the Spiritual Vision, an action that becomes fundamental in the adventure, since it helps to see what lies hidden from view and to provide a sense of what it is that needs to be done in the world to continue.
As we said, the gaming experience in The Pathless is reduced to its most basic element, so much so that here there is no kind of map or directions, all we know is that it is necessary to banish the darkness and free the gods from corruption. Hence the need to activate the Spiritual Vision, as it highlights in red the areas that require keys to continue with the adventure.
This leads us to talk about puzzles, another of the core mechanics from The Pathless, since obtaining these keys usually involves solving a puzzle for which you need to use arrows or lean on the eagle, who can move blocks that must be placed on switches.
One aspect that stands out is that the game not based on killing opponents, in what is clearly an invitation to observe existence from a primal and natural perspective in which animals They are not only the guardians of the world order, but also the gods creators of life.
About the technical section, The Pathless does not presume a graphic display like the one seen in the blockbusters of multimillionaire developers, and bet – as is usually seen in the indie arena – on a art design that does not attend to realism, by a color palette based on accents, and by eye-catching and stylish light and visual effects that surprise when least expected.
The version we tested was the PlayStation 5 and it is necessary to point out that it has two graphic modes: Resolution Y performance. The first improves the visual quality but runs at 30 FPS, while the second runs at 60 FPS but reduces the visual quality.
About audio and soundtrack design, it should be noted that the first remains sober and without taking risks, while the second is capable of touching sensitive fibers despite the fact that the involvement with the protagonist is actually minimal, which again shows that the music of a video game can directly impact emotions without the need for a detailed context.
And on the negative aspects, the general proposal of The Pathless it is interesting and entertaining and to some degree innovative within its eagerness to return to the basics, but sometimes it may feel like reiterative and with a slight lack of dynamism – although ironically it is necessary to shoot arrows at all times to move quickly.
The Pathless is a enjoyable indie transition times, a set that is exactly what you would expect from a product that bears Annapurna’s signature on its distribution.
It is a title of simple visuals that remind those of Mulaka, but that when they explode they are able to evoke those of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And it is a game that, by installing itself in the basics, manages to spread a sense of emotion thanks to its music and the role played by the animals In your world.
Developer: Giant Squid
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Revised version: PlayStation 5
Also available: PlayStation 4, PC and iOS