The Pathless (PlayStation 5)
Also available on PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, iOS, Mac, and Windows
I first heard about The Pathless when I was doing a Secret Santa with my Twitter DM for the 2021 holiday season. My person had the game on her wishlist, and I saw that it was a fairly affordable PS5 game, so I ordered it for her. I thought it looked cute and wanted to give it a go, but I never got around to pulling the trigger on it myself; it's one of those games that I wanted to play but that always had something else get bumped above it on my priority list. Well, about a week ago, my buddy Danny gives me his copy out of the blue. He'd beaten it and knew that I was a big game collector, so he let me have his copy. What an awesome dude. Almost made me feel bad for having relentlessly shot him with paintballs earlier in the day. Almost.
The Pathless is a super artistic puzzle adventure with some light platforming elements. You play as a hunter who is on a quest to defeat the Godslayer and save the world from his evil plan. Along the way, you have to lift the curse on the four Tall Ones, huge god-like spiritual beasts. To do this, you have to restore the light at three obelisks. To do THAT, you have to collect two glowing token things that you get by solving small puzzles that feel a bit like the shrines in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The plot is honestly just wrapping paper on the game to give some context to what you're doing; there are some very nice cinematic events voiced in some language - dunno if it's real or fictional, but it definitely isn't English - but the story itself is very shallow. You do get some neat little bits of lore from floating spirit orbs around the map, though, so that's a nice plus.
Each of the four Tall Ones is in its own section of the map, so there is a lot to explore with some decent environment diversity. That said, exploration is more tedious than exciting as there's no map of any kind, so you're kind of just wandering around half aimlessly with only a red glow visible while using your magic spirit vision to guide you. It's certainly not difficult to find your way around, but it's definitely tedious. The game itself isn't terribly difficult, either; there's no health bar, so you can't die but instead just get knocked back if you're hit during boss fights, and while the puzzles definitely get tougher as the game progresses, I was able to solve every puzzle I came across within ten minutes of discovery. The puzzles are fun and definitely the highlight of the game in my opinion, but traversal just isn't as fun as it looks.
I do have to applaud the graphic options, though. As is often the case with PS5 games, you can choose between Performance and Graphics presets. If you choose Graphics, the game will run at 2160p and 30 frames per second. If you choose Performance, the game will use a variable frame rate between around 1440p and 2160p to keep a solid 60 frames per second. As I always do, I chose Performance, and while the game itself may have been so-so, the gorgeous art style mixed with the buttery smooth 60 FPS definitely made for a sublime looking experience. I honestly didn't notice a big difference visually between Performance and Graphics whereas the frame rate difference was extremely noticeable, so I highly suggest current gen players stick to Performance.
The Pathless is a cute and competent but ultimately mediocre game. Don't misconstrue that to mean that it's not good; it's definitely an enjoyable experience. It's just not one that will sink its teeth into you and have you itching to get home from work and play. If you're looking for a chill game to spend a Saturday playing, this would be a good choice as it only took me between five and six hours to clear. I'd spend an hour or two per night playing after work and finished it in three days. As a game so short with no post-game content, I definitely wouldn't pay more than $15 for it, but if you can find it for that price or less, it's definitely worth a pick up.
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.