Reckless Review (switch) | Nintendo Life

Shot on Nintendo Switch (handheld/without dock)

Kicking it out of the (aqua)park with its ABZÛ debut in 2016, Giant Squid landed The Pathless on PS5 just as the console launched in November 2020. show off your next-gen kit, so you’ll be forgiven for thinking the Switch port is downright incredible. But here we are, and Giant Squid, along with publisher Annapurna Interactive, have brought us yet another huge open world, lovingly compressed on a portable screen.

The plot of The Pathless isn’t the most fantastically original, but it provides enough pretext to run around the field really fast and do some cool stuff. In short, an evil force has swept over the mystical land, and as the standard savior of everyone and everything, your task is to free it by shooting arrows at huge cursed creatures. Of course, that’s not all, but for all the bits of text found on stone tablets or fallen NPCs in the remnants of a battle like Breath-of-the-Wild, the story seems pretty far-fetched. As a result, all the creatures that you must kill/rescue roam their part of the world in the eyes of the giant red fireball of the storm. To fight them, you must first collect magic tokens by solving puzzles in the region. These tokens can be used to unlock three towers, allowing you to start hunting. Clearing the boss grants access to the next region.

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Shot on Nintendo Switch (pinned)

A distinctive feature of The Pathless is the rapid movement through vast open spaces. What’s new is that your movement speed increases and your sprint bar is replenished by firing arrows at targets floating in the air above the lands you’re exploring. Aiming is automatic, so shooting becomes a rhythmic hold and release of ZR to stretch and draw the bow. The HD Rumble trembles as the arrows fly and pulses as it hits, confirming the rhythm. The eagle companion represents the gift of flight, which is also enhanced and extended by firing arrows. As a result, you get an exciting race, jumping on the grass, dodging between the trees and taking off from the cliffs when epic landscapes fly on the screen. Overlapping sprint over run, sprint over run, and fly over run. What makes it fast, which couldn’t be achieved with a simple “Run” button.

If sprinting at cheetah speed past vast landscapes is the game’s core, perhaps the Switch port was a risky move. That said, performance on the Switch is generally good. There are moments of slowdowns or pop-ups, but they are unusual, especially given the scale of the environment. The art style uses relatively simple models and textures that are suitable for a portable system, and if you have an OLED screen, you can feel good looking at vibrant colors.

While getting from point A to point B in The Pathless is a joy, the actual events at points A and B are unfortunately not as exciting. These are simple puzzles about arranging rings through which arrows will shoot, moving blocks to pressure switches, and so on. And these riddles are of different quality. Some work to expand on established ideas and challenge your thinking; others are just a case of pressing a switch to get to another switch.

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Shot on Nintendo Switch (pinned)

Giant Squid took on the daunting task of creating a player character that can move smoothly on a macro level, traverse the terrain, and then seamlessly transition into the more subtle movements of block shuffling and tomb raiding. It almost works, but there is no doubt that a sluggish jump and slippery walking in close proximity outperforms the haste while flying over forests and plains. It doesn’t help the puzzle sections, where sometimes we would solve the puzzle in our minds but feel our hearts skip a beat as we realize that we then had to complete a slow and fussy set of actions to claim our prize.

Once enough of these puzzles have been solved and three towers have been unlocked, the local cursed beast of the kingdom is ready to be hunted. It starts with an exciting dive into the seething, destructive fire that moves across the map. The scale of these storm balls is intimidating, and every time we got close to them, we really got goosebumps. Once inside, combat is based around firing arrows almost constantly, first chasing the beast at high speed and then hitting targets on its body. Again, aiming is trivial, and failure is treated lightly, simply knocked down before trying again.

Tension is thus created largely by the mere sight of these enraged beings. This is facilitated by a stunning musical score, moving from strings and throat singing of the open plains to fiery brass in the throes of battle. While the boss encounters are pompous, they are mostly quite simple and also very long. Luckily, they mostly require large-scale, fluid action that is best suited to the game. While retries aren’t fun, they could be worse if they were based on the fussy problems the game struggles with.


Pathless does one thing very well, and that is to create a feeling of racing – almost dancing – in its huge open world. The player’s journey is basically about getting to know that feeling and learning how to use it to progress through the epic environments. However, the protagonist’s journey has little to do with that feeling, which may be why the story doesn’t land. The game sounds exceptional and looks great in this impressive port. However, the puzzles are rarely imaginative and hectic, and the boss encounters are too long and repetitive. Despite its significant success, The Pathless unfortunately cannot be more than the sum of its parts.

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