Giant Squid sure went for it on its sophomore game, didn’t they? After debuting with ABZÛ, they somehow pushed the envelope even further, delivering the luscious open-world experience that is The Pathless. Evoking feelings in line with some all-time greats like Shadow of the Colossus, Giant Squid’s latest endeavour is a remarkable game. Even elements we weren’t wholly convinced on at first blush won out and proved us wrong.
The locomotion system is especially unique and fun. While regular walking speed isn’t all that quick, the totems that are absolutely everywhere make up for it rather handily. Sprinting and shooting arrows at them to constantly build up your speed seemed tedious at the start, but by the end of the title, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Sprinting alongside a herd of deer while chaining trick shots was the surprise moment of the year we didn’t even know we wanted.
The game also does an exceptional job of integrating its boss fights into the experience. While the fights are the only real moments with any kind of combat, all the systems you need are already core pieces of the game, just utilised differently. The “chase” sequences that open all of the boss fights, in particular, are exhilarating. So much so that the boss fights could have consisted only of those moments and been great anyway.
But the real star of the game is the art. Like ABZÛ before it, The Pathless is downright stunning. Every tree, every brick feels deliberately placed in the world, and the stylised look works splendidly here. This goes double for the use of colour, with the title making incredible use of the power of HDR. The environments are littered with high contrast set-pieces, making many encounters — especially all of the aforementioned boss fights — visually impressive. The art direction in general is exquisite. All the abandoned structures and monoliths combine intricate beauty and haunting disrepair to present one of the most “lived-in” empty worlds we’ve ever seen. Each location has a story tell, and should you want to find that story, all the pieces are there to do so.
One of the most unsurprising things about The Pathless is the quality of music. Austin Wintory is unquestionably one of the most talented composers in the industry, and we were delighted to hear that he would be re-teaming with Giant Squid for this title. The resulting soundtrack is something that is unique among Wintory’s discography, combining tribal percussion and throat-singing with his signature stringed style. It pairs flawlessly with the experience and helps the title soar even higher than it otherwise might have.
For more information, you can read our The Pathless review through the link.
Have you played The Pathless on PS5 or PS4? Do you agree that it's one of 2020's best games? Tell us in the comments section below.
How we decide our Game of the Year: This December, our editorial team created a list of nominees for Game of the Year based on our own review scores and a variety of other factors. After much discussion, we trimmed the list of nominees down and asked all Push Square staff and the Push Square community to vote on their five favourites using a points-based system. The ten games with the most points by the designated deadline were then determined as our favourites of 2020.