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Pathless Woods Review (PC)



Pathless Woods Promotional Art

I’m going to level with you — I am a bit of a sucker for cozy farming simulation games, so much that I often find myself neglecting a good portion of top-tier exclusives just for another chance to cultivate a plot of land or two. Without giving it too much thought, I recently found myself sidelining a few other projects that probably should’ve made the top of my to-do list to soak up the world of Pathless Woods—yet another couch co-op life and farming sim with a rich and vibrant ancient aesthetic. On paper, it didn’t initially strike me as being anything particularly extraordinary, but the fact that it touted a hearty selection of crops, trinkets, and a generous series of recipes and other extracurricular activities did, in all honesty, persuade me to fashion a few tools and once again locate those all-important two green thumbs.

Unlike a lot of sandbox sims that opt for a generic cutesy art style that single-handedly replicates the same code as Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Pathless Woods instead makes an effort to tap into an aesthetic that’s lenient to ancient Chinese culture—a tapestry that not only looks fantastic on a smaller scale, but also blends remarkably well with your typical agricultural gameplay style. From its cherry blossom bouquets to its dew-drizzled meadows, the world itself captures the beating heart of a serene locale that’s not only beautiful to gawp at, but an absolute delight to explore and pluck clean of all its hidden mysteries and scrolls of lore.

Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself here, and so, for the sake of lathering a bit of context over the subject, I’ll rewind it back to the beginning. Care to join us as we unravel AniYa Game Studio’s latest creation? Let’s jump right in.

To Find Peace

Campfire overlooking hills (Pathless Woods)

Pathless Woods is a “relatively” harmless sandbox RPG at heart, and therefore, a clean slate for those with an undying desire to elevate the roots of a malnourished world into a beacon of natural beauty and prosperity for those within its borders. In a similar fashion as its peers, the game invites you (and up to three other friends, if you’re interested in soaking up the social aspects, that is) to embark on a quest to become the jack-of-all-trades of an ancient Chinese civilization—a duty that not only involves having to build fascinating architectural structures, but also protect them from the cultists who patrol the outer boroughs and confiscate the nearby resources and relics belonging to your ancestors.

AniYa Game Studio does, and rightfully so, describe the game as being “cozy” — and it is, at least for the most part. With that said, the experience that it does produce isn’t without its admirable share of challenges and confrontations, and while its combat mechanics aren’t particularly demanding, or even the least bit difficult to grasp, for that matter, they do manage to keep you on your toes between generic fetch quests and cultivation exploits. Aside from having to swing a sword at a thing or two every now and again, though, there really isn’t a huge amount to concern yourself with; its combat scenarios are often scarce, and ultimately have little impact on a lot of the work that you do away from the battlefield.

A Farmer’s Tale

Cherry blossom woodland setting (Pathless Woods)

As it turns out, the bulk of your traversal skills aren’t for keeping enemies at bay, but rather, assuring that the growth of your habitat is forever evolving and working towards ascending a new form of milestone. As it is a farming sim, too, that essentially means acquiring tools to manipulate water irrigation, and unearthing new types of fertilizer to boost your crop’s yield and overall value. Typically, you will spend your days waking up, obtaining new seeds and resources, and laying the foundations for a new branch that’ll either boost your economic viability, or aid your efforts to improve the quality of life for your friends and fellow farmhands. Again, none of these tasks are made to feel overly threatening, which essentially means that you don’t need to have any prior experience in the field to make short work of, well, anything that pours out of the woodwork.

I’m grateful, really, that Pathless Woods does at least try to add a few additional ingredients to the mix—quests, events, and activities, to list just a few of its standout items—in order to make the overall journey a little less monotonous and shortsighted. Aside from farming—a feature that does, unsurprisingly, take up a huge wedge of the overall experience, there are also several other things to see and do in the blossom-smothered world, including fishing, taming, and exploring ancient ruins that run deep into the roots of a lost civilization. Suffice it to say that, as far as content goes, there’s a good amount to sift through — and even more to come, according to its creators.

Heavy on the UI

Foraging for supplies in woodland (Pathless Woods)

There is one major drawback to the quality of Pathless Woods, and that is its UI; there a lot of it, and it’s frustratingly easy to get lost in the sheer amount of menus and crafting sliders that cloak a good eighty percent of the screen. As with any sandbox sim that adopts a seemingly infinite wealth of customizable components, a lot of these features often involve having to study some form of tutorial, or engaging in drawn-out trial-and-error periods that often result in a loss of resources or blueprints. With that said, it didn’t take all that long for me to figure out what was what and which piece aligned with which mechanism, and so on and so forth. What’s more, as a lot of these tutorials allowed me to learn as part of a troupe, and not as a lone farmhand, it did make the process less daunting.

Pathless Woods is a bit of a slow burner, which is fine, given that the core gameplay elements mostly entail foraging for supplies, planting crops, and rinsing and repeating the same four or five activities several times over in order to make headway on some form of architectural development. Again, this is where that whole “cozy” aspect chimes in; it isn’t for those in search of a quick-fire romp through the motions and a premature conclusion, but rather, a gamer whose patient enough to reap the fruits of their labor after days, weeks, and perhaps even months of laying the groundwork. Sure, there’s a bit of a learning curve to wrap your head around, but given the fact that the rewards clearly outweigh the costs in most cases, it does make for an even greater benefit for those willing to spend time to iron out the creases, so to speak.


Combat encounter in cherry blossom woodland (Pathless Woods)

Pathless Woods delivers a wholesome message that further illustrates the importance of preservation in a world that’s as equally rife with tyrannical issues as it is divine natural beauty. There’s certainly a lot to love about it, is what I’m saying, and I’m confident that anyone who’s even remotely interested in agriculture or ancient farming techniques will appreciate just about everything that the game pours onto its canvas. The fact that it also allows additional players to explore and experiment with alternate methods of cultivating their creativity, too, adds to the overall appeal of the product, which is something that’ll no doubt give potential quartets something to write home about.

When all’s said and done, there’s still a long road ahead for the folks over at AniYa Game Studio, and so, whilst I can only comment on a small portion of the game in its current state, I can quite easily put myself into a position of saying, you know, kudos, team — that’s a plot well worth cultivating. Of course, as the game itself is still in its early access phase, there’s no telling which direction it’ll take next, but for the time being, it seems that the odds are evidently in its favor, and that, even with a few warts and wrinkles in its ploy, it’s on track to becoming a major contender in its chosen genre.

To answer the question of whether or not Pathless Woods is worth venturing from the beaten path for — yes, it is, if not today, and while it’s in its infancy, then at some stage in the near future once its last-remaining creases are no longer a contributing factor.

Pathless Woods Review (PC)

Room to Blossom

Pathless Woods ticks all of the right boxes as far as I’m concerned, and therefore, if you are the type of gamer who enjoys simple challenges that don’t require a ludicrous amount of effort or even a great deal of skill, for that matter, then you ought to give it some consideration. It’s charming, enjoyable, and highly addictive — three qualities that don’t go unnoticed when it comes to reviewing life and farming simulation games of this kind.

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.