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Archery In Video Games Part 3 - The Pathless

This is an endearing game, and one which snuck up on me when it was released back in November 2020 by Giant Squid and Annapurna Interactive. Suddenly, there was a game which combined archery, falconry, and puzzles! From the start, the graphics with their animated style work to enhance the idealism of the protagonist as she travels across an island consumed by an ancient demon. The graphics don't just enhance the nature of the game's narrative, but, cleverly reduce the graphic memory, allowing for smoother gameplay and larger environments to be produced.

The entirety of the gameplay revolves around archery, from shooting floating power-ups scattered over the numerous environments, to boss fights, to even solving puzzles. It is blissful in its execution, with fluid fast moving gameplay, interspersed by dynamic problem solving, all within natural and beautiful environments containing amazing features to discover!

The bow in the game appears to be a Yumi, a Japanese longbow which has been around for centuries and was used by the Samurai. Better still, the arrows in the game whistle. Within Japanese mythology, it was said that whistling arrows dispersed demons - this is a fine detail that says the people behind the game have done thorough research.

To expand on the level of detail in the archery present, the avatar, once the arrow is loosed, flings her arm back in the same manner of those who practice Kyudo. The arrows are placed on the outside of the bow, too. Ussually, with game developers, as I am sure I have mentioned before, there is never much thought put into what archery should look like; a curvey bow, and an arrow on the string, with the archer generally posing in a manner that has the bow held sideways. Like, why sideways? It looks stupid.


There isn't much required from the player however, as aiming is automatic, and all they need to do is hold the controller's trigger, then release. But that simplicity works for the casual nature of this game, given its bases on fun and fantasy. It's about solving puzzles and using a bit of wit, with a bow in hand and an eagle companion.

Using a bow to solve puzzles does sound very isoteric, but this is a feature I enjoyed; shooting through braziers, holes, and ricocheting arrows from placed mirrors to hit a specific 'button' or catch the angle of burning sconce. It takes archery and moves it into more inventive gameplay, ensuring the bow remains a key element within the game and narrative.

Outside of the puzzles, the player leaps to and from, using the bow to shoot floating power ups which enhance the speed or jumping height of the avatar, to get up to new places or across gorges, requiring spatial reasoning, quick thinking, and good timing to say the least.

This is not a game for archers to take seriously, but to enjoy in its purity.

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