The first shot in The Pathless is of a sprawling sea, a visual nod to developer Giant Squid’s previous work on the ocean adventure game Abzû. That title was peaceful and serene, whereas The Pathless acts as a counterpoint, inviting you into a dark world consumed by fire and brimstone. Giant Squid handles the tonal shift well, creating a better game that embraces a true sense of discovery, while being every bit as gorgeous as its underwater predecessor.
This adventure into a dangerous land is seen through the eyes of a character known only as “The Hunter,” a gifted archer who becomes the unlikely ally of a mystical eagle capable of lifting her high into the air. The Hunter is focused on one task: ridding the world of a curse created by a being known as Godslayer. For generations, Hunters have attempted this feat, but none have succeeded. You find these past Hunters’ skeletal remains littered along the sprawling open-world areas, showing just how close they came – a great visual-narrative technique that guides you to more perilous places. The world’s lore is uncovered through reading tomes, but Giant Squid also frames dramatic moments in beautifully animated cutscenes that scream of The Legend of Zelda’s recent stylization. The Godslayer gets plenty of screen time to reveal why he’s a formidable threat.
The Pathless is a wonderfully different game that makes you feel like you have ownership over the entire experience and are not being led along by a pre-scripted playbook.
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