We enter the second game of Giant Squid. Elegance and good work for a job that knows how to avoid past mistakes.
The newest from Giant Squid, creators of the beautiful and contemplative ABZU, comes to iPhone / iPad, PS4, PS5 and PC. It distributes Annapurna, whose exquisite and heterogeneous catalog is nourished by stylish works full of good taste. Is The Pathless worthy of such an elitist club, or has it sneaked in covered in glamorous promises? Join us in our analysis of the PS4 version to find all the answers.
Annapurna Seal of Quality
The Annanpurna mountainous massif, located in the Himalayas, has in its ranks the tenth highest mountain on the planet and one of the most difficult to climb, as corroborated by many misfortunes and lost souls in the attempt. The reason why Annapurna took this name may be due to the risk of its artistic proposal (and not so much because of the difficulty of its interactive products, which is almost conspicuous by its absence). Annapurna Interactive’s catalog is flawless, one of those who break shelves by accumulating prizes.
Namely, in its distribution we have both games that they sponsored from the beginning as well as others that they threw the glove to release on other platforms beyond their initial launch. We are talking about none other than What Remains of Edith Finch, Gorogoa, Florence, Kentucky Route Zero, Gone Home, Outer Wilds, Telling Lies, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Flower and Journey when thatgamecompany became independent from Sony (not surprisingly, Jenova Chen was Annapurna’s advisor)… The quality and commitment of Annapurna Interactive to publish “personal, emotional and original” authorial videogames is so overwhelming that you can look face to face and without blinking at its film subsidiary Annapurna Pictures, which, despite having excellent under its wing Films by Katherine Bigelow, Spike Jonze or Paul Thomas Anderson have been a bottomless pit when it comes to losing money.
The Pathless thus joins the famous list by Giant Squid, a young studio that until now had only one game on its resume: ABZU. We could think that the beautiful invoice of that underwater adventure surely opened the doors of the distributor, but there is one more detail that is very important. The founder of this small studio of just 20 people is Matt Nava, the former art director of Flower and Journey at thatgamecomapany. Major words that make all the pieces fit together in the same sensibility. It is now time to see if the recently released The Pathless meets the demanding quality scale that Annapurna is expected to have. And the answer seems more complex than a simple Yes or No. We must first go into the very bowels of the game and try to return from there victorious. Let’s go there.
The mechanics of The Pathless, or how to dodge elongated shadows with maturity
When ABZU was launched it was not a surprise to learn who was behind the project. The reminiscences of Journey were obvious, perhaps too much. There were strong echoes of the desert Journey in the colorful underwater game, almost an obsession to emulate its devastating effect on players. We once again had composer Austin Wintory at the helm to take up the intimate and at the same time great of the thatgamecompany game, but also an urgent need to convey the same torrent of emotions.
Let’s remember. One of the most celebrated moments in Journey occurs in the middle of the game, when the continuous slide is introduced down the slope of a sea of dunes. We then feel an immense pleasure in the zigzagging romp spurred on by a portentous score. Happiness and optimism fill us only to explode in us completely when the scene jumps up several rungs at once. The camera moves from the rear to the side position, the sun dyes the sand dazzling gold, and we jump for joy at the intermittent rays of light behind millenary columns. Pure beauty, pure Stendhal syndrome capable of drawing an emotional handful of tears. An instant later, after a great leap to embrace the sky that is the zenith of the sequence, we plunged into the dark catacombs of that world. The effect is devastating. The light disappears, the music is turned off, and we are thrown back to our fragility in an unknown environment and more hostile than ever. The echo that our footsteps return to us through the blackness makes us know the enormity in which we have been locked.