The Truth is a Pathless Land
The Pathless completely slipped under the radar for me, with games like Sackboy: A Big Adventure, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Astro’s Playroom rightfully drawing my attention for the launch of the PlayStation 5, I’d somehow totally missed any word of this game.
MrZhangetsu fleetingly mentioned it to me during launch week as we were hard at work preparing guides and platting games, but I hadn’t given it much thought as I swung around a snow-capped New York completely in awe of raytraced skyscraper reflections.
As things slowly calmed down, and I got through platting my fourth PlayStation 5 title in a week, I took a moment to browse the PS Store and see what other PS5 titles I could add to my collection when I saw this. A mere 30 seconds into the game’s trailer I was sold and it was in my basket…
The Pathless Review
A Familiar Tale of Light vs Dark
During the game’s prologue, we’re told of the darkness which is spreading across the world, and how it originates from the island we’re about to explore. Many hunters have come to the island in the hopes of restoring the light and saving the world, but none have been successful… Or even returned.
Cue our main protagonist, the Hunter. With a keen eye, a light foot, and insane abilities with the bow, she hopes to be the one to finally uncover the source of the darkness and cure the world of its blight.
Through progression, and mostly exploration, we come to learn more about the “Tall Ones” – ex-guardians of the island who have been been turned into corrupt spirits acting at the beck and call of the intimidatingly powerful “God-Slayer”.
I won’t spoil more than I need to, as I want you to experience the story for yourself, to have that same incentive to uncover the history of the island as well as the origins, wicked deeds, and motivations of the all-powerful antagonist.
A short ways into the story we come to meet our adorable companion; the Eagle, through whom we will be able to explore greater heights. The heart-warming bond which grows between the Hunter and her Eagle is a touching development to experience as you work together to solve puzzles, and help her when she’s scared or hurt.
One thing I’ve seen mentioned a lot with regards to this game is how it is a Breath of the Wild clone. I take that as an insult to the masterpiece that Giant Squid have created, to simply reduce it down to a single influence and disregard its unique qualities.
Sure, there are four sections of the map with an inaccessible centre-region harbouring the game’s main protagonist. There are four beasts to find and cleanse in order to progress. There’s an introduction of vertical traversal expanding on the idea of open-world. And, yeah okay, the game uses a beautiful cel-shaded art style very reminiscent of Breath of the Wild.
On top of that, there’s a strong argument which could be made about the game being a Shadow of the Colossus clone, but its differences outweight its similarities.
While the main focus is intense boss fights with large creatures, The Pathless brings its own kit bag full of unique mechanics to the table which bring a certain velocity to the boss sequences, which are then slowed down into more typical boss-fight scenarios involving weak-points and hazards.
The boss fights are prefaced with exploration-heavy segments in which you must complete puzzles hidden throughout each region to retrieve Lightstones with which you can cleanse the darkness from the region and weaken the corrupt spirits enough to initiate a boss fight.
Amongst ruins, giant skeletons, abandoned shrines, vast open fields, and many more intruiging and lore-filled locales you can find puzzles upon puzzles. The majority of these are short puzzles which will offer you small crystals as a reward that can then be used to upgrade your vertical traversal abilities.
Larger puzzles will require ever so slightly more brain power as you investigate your surroundings and interact with items to try to find the solution, these are where you’ll find the coveted Lightstones.
Whilst you explore, corrupt spirits of the island’s now-deceased guardians will attempt to stop you by pulling you into a red storm and whisking your trusty eagle companion away from you. Leaving you to try and rescue your friend while avoiding the gaze of the terrifying beast.
Bringing enough Lightstones to all three towers in each corrupt region will allow you to weaken the spirit who holds dominion in the area and enter into its storm, initiating an intense chase sequence, ending in a multi-phase boss fight which differs from creature to creature. Ultimately, cleansing the spirit will bring light back to the region and allow you access to the next.
Via your Eagle companion, you’re able to fly up into the air and glide over vast distances, a convenient way to get from point A to B. But that isn’t to say it is always better than travelling by foot. The protagonist’s speed at full stride is unmatched.
By shooting arrows at the many floating talismans found throughout the island, the Hunter will gain stamina and a short speed boost. Chaining together these successful talisman-shots will result in incrementally greater speed, until you’re moving through grassy plains and snowy tundras like a red blur.
These talismans can also be shot in the air, allowing you to maintain airtime, cover greater distances, and even gain more altitude.
The satisfaction that comes from a consistent chain of talisman shots and the resulting speed and mobility is indescribable, the feeling is incredible.
A Completionist’s Dream
While the game has a formulaic pattern of exploration, then cleansing, then fighting, then more exploration; those who would seek to do more, and aim for the Platinum Trophy, have a vast world of plentiful mystery to experience.
At any point, you can press to activate a sonar-vision of sorts, which will indicate to you the way to go and give helpful hints when solving puzzles, but it also acts as your map. If you get high ground or simply soar above the area, by activating the view you can see which locations you have visited and completed , indicated by bright blue clouds surrounding each building or landmark.
Those locations you have not yet completed, however, will be clearly highlighted by dark red clouds beckoning you to solve the puzzles within, either for yellow crystals which can allow you to travel even higher, or for more Lightstones.
While you do need up to 6 Lightstones to cleanse each spirit, there are up to 15 in a region, and taking the surplus to the cleansed spirit will allow you to enter into another thrilling chase sequence, at the end of which you will be awarded a boon from the spirit to help improve your abilities.
Collecting boons from all 4 spirits will allow you to see an extended secret ending once you’ve finished the game.
Of course, there are trophies to help motivate you to do all these things, as well as finding lore and learning more about the world you’re exploring.
My The Pathless Platinum Experience
Cleansing Spirits and Collecting Lightstones
As I went into the game mostly blind about the mechanics and the goals, I simply let the game lead me by the hand for the first hour. Following that, I spent a lot of time getting used to the mechanics, blazing through grassy fields and scaring away deer as I learned how to build speed and maintain airtime.
By the time I had cleansed the first spirit I had a good understanding of how things worked and was ready to tackle the game my own way. Leaving the main objectives by the wayside, I began exploring, completing every puzzle I could find until there were no red clouds left in the first area, and I had collected every Lightstone as well as the Deer Spirit’s gift.
That was it, then, I was hooked. On to the next area I went, following the same pattern – I first cleansed the spirit, then I gathered all the collectables and I finished up by collecting the Spirits gift and then moved on again. This was my approach for the rest of the game.
Along the way I collected many miscellaneous trophies for completing particular feats like flying for a minute or finding a specific puzzle and completing it, but I also got many collectable trophies for finding myriad sources of lore and solving small puzzles which were unendingly dotted around the island.
By the time I reached and completed the final area, ready to take on the boss, I had just three trophies left.
The Final Fight
Two of the remaining trophies required that I finished the game, one for seeing the credits, and the other for unlocking the secret ending. Confident that there was nothing more I could possibly need to do for the secret ending, I decided to go ahead and enter the final area.
The third trophy I had remaining was proving difficult to pull off, and I was curious to see if I would be able to continue playing the game to earn trophies once the game was finished (so I could add that info to my Trophy Guide – You can, by the way). So, I made a second back-up save and then headed off to the daunting lava-coated landmass in the sky, to see if I could do something about that pesky Godslayer.
The final moments of the game were intense, emotional, and obviously fun to experience. How fitting, that such a marvelous and impressive indie title should have an epic, gripping finale to cap it all off.
As I suspected, I had done what was needed for the secret ending, and had just one trophy left.
Running with Nature
The final trophy required that I run alongside 6 animals simultaneously. I’d run alongside one or two before but they always seemed to split off and go their separate ways, or stop following me after a short while.
I had noticed that Wolves were more likely to tail me, however, so I found an area with plenty of wolves and lots of flat ground where I’d be able to run without obstacle. There, I ran back and forth at great length. Wolves would join me but then shortly leave my side and I was growing frustrated by not knowing what to do.
It was then that I noticed one wolf kicked up gold particles as it followed my path, this one wasn’t leaving.
It turns out that you need to run with an animal long enough for those gold particles to spawn, signifying that they have bonded with you, before you run off to try and add another animal to the group. Repeating this process six times meant that I was able to earn the trophy, and the platinum with it.
Finishing the Game
The Pathless Trophy Guide
The Pathless should be in every Trophy Hunter’s Platinum collection, and with slim pickings on PS5 titles at the moment, picking up this masterpiece is a no-brainer.
That concludes my Bugsnax Review. If you enjoyed reading this review, please do let us know, it means the world to us when we hear feedback and we love engaging with people over the game we just platted. It’s basically the only thing motivating us at the moment!
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