The Pathless is an upcoming open world game by Abzû creator Giant Squid. As part of a preview event for the game this week, I was able to play it for about an hour, and in that time I fell in love with the environments, the unique movement, and most importantly, the eagle.
The game starts with the mysterious Hunter protagonist arriving on an island using a boat, with the intention to cleanse the land from a curse. Shortly after arriving, she finds an eagle, who joins her and helps her glide across areas and fly to hard-to-reach places. She will have to purify several tainted beasts in order to save the land.
In The Pathless, the player can traverse mysterious plains quickly using a target system. Shooting passing targets with your bow and arrow allows you to fill up your dash meter, keeping up the speed as you make your way through tranquil forest environments. You can also choose to walk around and jump patiently instead — and you will want to do this when you encounter puzzles — but the main appeal of the game is zooming around the map using the targets.
The controls are simple: you hold down one button to dash, and hit another button to fire arrows. You’ll have to hold down the arrow-firing button to take aim and release it to fire the arrow. Shooting the passing targets as you dash through the forest almost follows a rhythm, making it easy to keep moving quickly. It’s extremely satisfying to hit targets mid-air to extend your jumps or cut corners just right. I felt like I could have spent hours just dashing around the map with the eagle by my side.
Since the hunter you play as seems to be fearless, the eagle is what often sets the tone. It’ll hide itself in its wings and squawk in fear when it’s around red storm-like statues. It needs to be cleaned and pet in order to keep flying. Rather than flying next to you, it’ll often hop on its feet. The eagle is an adorable baby and even an hour into the game, I was ready to die for it.
As you navigate the Hunter and her eagle around, you’ll find puzzles for them to complete that involve shooting targets or getting the eagle companion to pick up weights to push down switches. None of the puzzles in the preview portion of the game that I played were particularly hard, but they felt rewarding to complete nonetheless. After playing the game for a bit, I found that half the difficulty was finding new puzzles to complete, as there’s no in-game map. Players will have to rely on landmarks to figure out where they are.
Exploring is peaceful but it can always be interrupted by a red storm of thunder and dust that will envelop you and your eagle friend if you get too close to it. The storm will sweep your eagle companion away, separating the two of you. At one point in the part of the game I played, I had to sneak past a possessed beast to reclaim my bird and exit the storm. In comparison to the calming nature of the rest of the game, this part made my palms sweaty.
Sneaking past the beast isn’t hard — you just have to stay out of its field of vision. But the eagle will cry out in agony and fear when you’re separated, adding to the pressure of saving it.
The Pathless will be released for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, and iOS on Nov. 12.