The Pathless review for PS5, PS4

Platform: PS5
Also on: PS4, PC
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Developer: Giant Squid
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

It should come as no surprise that the best thing about The Pathless is how your character moves. After all, it was developed by Giant Squid, who were founded by a few people who used to work at thatgamecompany. Giant Squid?s last game was Abz?, and thatgamecompany is most famous for games like Journey and Flower.

In other words, The Pathless is the latest in a line of games from a developer who knows how to make characters move in the most fluid, balletic way imaginable.

And you see that throughout this game. You control an archer with an eagle companion, and even though you start off on foot, as you progress through the game you soon learn that the best way to move around is to take advantage of both your bow and arrow and your eagle. The former helps you launch yourself into the air every time you hit any of the many floating targets scattered throughout the game, while the latter helps you glide and soar up to higher areas. It all feels incredibly smooth, and it?s easy to get lost in simply exploring this wide open world.

Of course, it?s also easy to get lost because, as The Pathless? name implies, it doesn?t give you much in the way of direction. There?s no map to follow, and while there are some indoor sections, for the most part you?re set down in a big world and it?s up to you to figure out where you want to go.

Mind you, the game does nudge you in some directions here and there. You can add a filter to your vision that allows you to see giant flaming beacons, which generally guide you towards either environmental puzzles or boss fights — though ?fight? may be a misnomer, since a better descriptor would be boss stealth sections, where you have to sneak past monsters to rescue your eagle companion. Those are challenging enough to keep you exploring, and they give the game a shape instead of leaving you to simply wander around hoping you find something.

It?s the wandering around that makes The Pathless so compelling, though. It?s one of those games where the journey matters at least as much as, if not more than, the destination — and, thankfully, it makes that journey as smooth and seamless and pleasant as possible.

Annapurna Interactive provided us with a Pathless PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: B+