Entertainment

Solar Ash and The Pathless are defining a new kind of open world game

Blame it on work or my memory, but I tend to take notes while playing games. And like I played Heart Machine and Annapurna Interactive’s Solar ash Over the past few days, those notes have turned into a list of ways the game resembles another Annapurna game: The road has no way.

Both are open-world games on a budget, prioritizing platform challenges and fast, fluid movement over custom story and combat missions. In Solar ash, you slide around in futuristic roller skates, strengthening and honing in every direction; in The road has no way, you propel yourself forward using magic bows. Both games feature environmental puzzles, tall vertical areas, masked characters, and giant bosses, with a loose story that ties all of that together. .

At their core, they both take place in relatively empty open worlds and fill their spaces with unique forms of movement instead of loads of content, and that simplicity allows you to appreciate environments without feeling overwhelmed. They don’t have crowds or many enemies. In fact, they would probably function without anyone fighting. Play through either game and it often feels like the enemies aren’t around to add to the story to signal that you’re on the right track. (At least, until you get to the bosses.)

The main character flees from the giant firewall in The Pathless

A scene from The road has no way.
Image: Giant Squid / Annapurna Interactive

I imagine there are budget issues playing here, since Heart Machine and The road has no way developer Giant Squid employs much less manpower than studios making high end open world games and takes less time to create less enemies, design less missions, to create operations images with fewer faces. Neither of these games achieved the same level of in-game animation as Insomniac’s Spider-Man game. But whatever the motivation, the results worked for me. The lack of so much in them – and what their respective developers did with the movement, background, and world design to fill that void – is what I like about them.

They are not overwhelming. They don’t contain hundreds of hours of content. They give you a sense of discovery and adventure, they say thank you and they give you a sense of satisfaction so you can move on to the next game. They’re big enough to get lost in, but small enough to keep you focused. And they’ve allowed me to enjoy open world games in a way that I haven’t been able to do with a lot of big-budget stuff in recent years.

https://www.polygon.com/gaming/22816264/solar-ash-pathless-open-world-games Solar Ash and The Pathless are defining a new kind of open world game

Aila Slisco

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