[Mac OS X] Play Pathways Into Darkness, Halo’s predecessor, for free!

mzl.nfsedctl.800x500-75I absolutely adore old-school games. Whether it’s an arcade cabinet from the late 70s or a polygon-laden bit of nostalgia from the 90s, I have a real affection for old, retro, and forgotten games. I also love modern video games, and I’ve spent more hours playing Halo than I’d care to admit. As a big Halo fan, I was really excited when I saw Pathways Into Darkness pop up for free on the Mac App store. Before Bungie rocked the world with Halo, Bungie released Pathways Into Darkness way back in 1993.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

This version of Pathways Into Darkness was painstakingly recreated for Mac OS X by Man Up Time. The game combines adventure and first person shooters, and is considered something of a classic today. You play as a Special Forces member who must stop an ancient god from reawakening.

Pros

  • A great title for older fans who played it on its initial release, or for new fans who want a historical perspective on Bungie’s pre-Halo roots
  • Fantastic story that will appeal to sci-fi fans, military fans, and fans of HP Lovecraft
  • Tons of weapons to collect and tombs to explore
  • You can have up to 6 games in progress at one time

Cons

  • Control scheme isn’t readily explained in either the App Store description, or in the game itself
  • The blend of three screens (for visuals, information, and inventory) takes a bit of getting used to

Discussion

mzl.zxgrsmtu.800x500-75They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. The sounds are great, and the visuals are delightfully retro. Even the death message is charming: “You have died a horrible and nasty death. Wipe off that green goo and try again.”

One thing I dislike is the lack of a tutorial: you sort of need to piece together the controls while you’re playing. Arrows control your movement, while command+G lets you search bodies or areas for ammo and special items. Command+R lets you rest and restore health, while the gun is fired with space bar or enter. If you go to “Help” and then click “open manual,” you’ll finally get some answers about the full controls and the game’s backstory.

I wish the backstory and the control commands were outlined in such a way that they felt like they were more a part of the actual gameplay. I do love how faithfully this game has been replicated, from the game itself to the game’s manual, which references all kinds of out of date info. However, perhaps this port of the original game could use a manual/readme file of its own.

There’s a really problematic trend of late with companies who are “updating” retro titles for a new audience (and modern tech.) That trend is over-updating the graphics. For example, the recent iOS port of Final Fantasy 5 has some graphic updates to “improve” the look of the game. But those improvements to the look of the game were a huge mistake: they stripped the game of its original charm and made the pixel art look flat and generic. Thankfully, Pathways Into Darkness still looks like a game developed in the 90s…and that’s what makes it so great.

Conclusion and download link

20 years after its initial release, Pathways Into Darkness is still an engaging, well-crafted game. If you love retro first person shooters, grab this freebie and strap in for a challenging ride.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.2

Supported OS: OS X 10.6 or later

Download size: 3.6 MB

Pathways Into Darkness on Apple App Store

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