The wait is over. The Pathless, an epic mythic adventure game from Annapurna Interactive and Giant Squid (makers of Abzu), has finally arrived for Apple Arcade and the new PS5. The title is perhaps the most anticipated for Apple’s gaming subscription service to date, finally joining its growing catalog of over 140 games. Aside from its intriguing story and beautiful graphics, The Pathless is one of the Apple Arcade titles that feels most like a traditional console game. You can also try the new game on the PS4 and in the Epic Games Store.
In The Pathless, you play as the last Hunter, tasked with traveling to a mysterious, cursed island inhabited by corrupt spirits. Along with your eagle companion, you must defeat the evil to bring back the light. This task is just as big as it sounds, but you get to do it in a gorgeous open world. Flowers and grass sway in the breeze, and mist hovers in the trees as beams of sunlight cut through.
Immersing players in a myth was one of the team’s design goals, and folklore played a big part in the game’s creation, creative developer Matt Nava said during a demo last month.
“We wanted to give you the sense that you’re living a larger-than-life legend,” Nava said. “We have a lot of influences from Mesoamerican to Arthurian legend, and a whole lot more.”
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The game begins with the Hunter reaching the island. I played on my iPad, and took some time here to get used to the controls. For example, an autorun toggle is meant to lessen touchscreen fatigue so you can play longer. And firing your bow at targets (which the Hunter can do with 100% accuracy) makes you run in faster bursts. Finding your rhythm is key. (The game is also compatible with controllers, if you find that easier.)
Your eagle companion is another big part of the game, as it will be a major help during boss battles, puzzles and travel. Because your eagle is so crucial to your journey, the evil spirits on the island will try to separate you at every turn. To take care of your eagle, Nava and his team incorporated a petting mechanism.
“It’s something that will hopefully affect people, and they love the bird. We put a lot of love into it,” he said of the Hunter’s relationship to the eagle.
The game also doesn’t have a map. Removing a map lets players stay immersed in the world, according to Nava, allowing more opportunities to explore and discover the intricate puzzles that are built into the very architecture itself. Instead, early on in the game, you’ll be equipped with a Spirit Mask, which gives you a kind of “sonar power” to give you hints on where you should go.
The Pathless also doesn’t have fast travel. But Nava says the character’s motion is directly linked to the world’s design.
“As you unlock more area, your ability to traverse that area also unlocks,” Nava said during last month’s demo.
As far as translating the game from PlayStation 5 to Apple Arcade, Nava said the graphics might not be as grand on Apple’s service — fewer trees and flowers — since it’s a big game. Regardless, from what I’ve played so far, The Pathless is gorgeous on the iPad.
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For $5 (£5, AU $8) a month, Apple’s Arcade service lets you download and play ad-free games across the iPhone, iPad, Mac, iPod Touch and Apple TV, and with the release of iOS 14, you can see a teaser of games coming soon.
In addition, with the release of Apple’s new iPhone 12 devices, you can get a three-month free trial of Apple Arcade with the purchase of a new device. Even if you don’t purchase a new device, if you’re signing up for Apple Arcade for the first time, you get a one-month free trial. Also, the Apple One subscription bundle launched last week, making it easier and more affordable to get up to six Apple subscription services — Apple Arcade included — for one price.