Pathless Woods – A Cute but Characterless Co-op Crafting Game

Pathless Woods - Key Art

“You can play it safe, and I wouldn’t blame you for it. You can continue as you’ve been doing, and you’ll survive, but is that what you want? Is that enough?” – J.M. Darhower


Pathless Woods is a charming open-world survival and building game loosely inspired by ancient Chinese heritage. Players can experience the adventure solo or with up to three friends in online co-op.

Developer: Ani’Ya Games Studio
Released: 3rd April 2024 (Early Access)
Price: £16.75

Platforms: Windows
Available on: Steam
Engine: Unity

Pathless Woods Screenshot - QTE


Pathless Woods sees adventurers building a base, exploring, gathering materials, crafting tools and equipment and fending off marauders. It offers a short and insubstantial tutorial before leaving the player mostly to their own devices. Things are then introduced at a very fast pace with minimal explanation which although suitable for genre veterans, would undoubtedly confuse any newcomers.

Characters are plagued by satiety, and thirst both of which drain at a relatively rapid pace requiring the player to forage, hunt or grow food, and drink regularly, however, days are fairly short meaning that time must be optimised. Staying out past dark will cause negative consequences. Similarly, venturing into misty areas will cause tools to deteriorate faster. For everything has durability, from tools to equipment even storage chests, causing much frustration!

Simple tasks such as chopping wood can be completed by holding a single key, or by completing a QTE of sorts. The latter takes more time and effort but does not seem to reward the player in any way besides being a little faster if done perfectly. Inventory space is fairly generous and supplies can be used directly from storage chests which adds an element of ease to gathering materials and crafting.

NPC companions can be found and added to the party, but they are awkward to instruct and put to use and will use resources seemingly faster than the players. There are a choice of two playable characters with different qualities/abilities and gear can be crafted to add extra benefits such as speed or sun protection.

Combat is basic, with little variety, though there is a good range of enemies to battle with including animals to hunt for food, more sinister creatures such as poisonous snakes or tribes of people such as the Jaer who can venture to the player’s camp to attack which rewards with loot boxes!

Pathless Woods Screenshot - Crafting


The narrative elements of Pathless Woods are minimal, there is a cute non-human character to help guide the player through the game and some loose story tied to the combat and the creatures/groups that attack. These minimal anecdotal aspects are delivered largely through the gameplay itself rather than any narration, dialogue or exposition which causes it to feel even more subtle. The adventure focuses on the player’s actions and the game does not suffer too heavily as a result of the minimal narrative but there is a sense of something missing, especially considering the boasts of cultural inspiration that could have been drawn on far more extensively.


Pathless Woods has a colourful and cosy 3D art style with relatively low-poly models and minimal detail without being devoid of visual interest. The cultural inspiration is only vaguely apparent in the characters, some objects and models but is not as prominent as one might expect or hope. The music is mostly calm and melodic featuring twinkly piano/keyboard sounds and woodwind which adds to the generally relaxing atmosphere. It sits in the background, however, and is not prominent, even during tenser moments such as combat. The sound design is generally lacklustre, once again lacking any of the promised cultural influence and failing to effectively immerse the player in the experience or to evoke any emotion.

Pathless Woods Screenshot - Combat


Overall, Pathless Woods is very much an early-access game. It feels incomplete and many aspects of it are frustrating and confusing. Concepts and activities are introduced too quickly and with limited information, companions are a nuisance and the controls are unintuitive and cumbersome. The intended hindrances such as durability and status effects are not implemented in a satisfying way and make the player feel rushed and force excessive repetition. The aesthetic is pleasant with vibrant visuals but performance issues impede enjoyment of this as grass and other objects load mere metres in front of the player as they explore. Pathless Woods has the basis for an adequate survival game but has a number of flaws and fails to offer anything unique, as such, I cannot recommend it in its current state.

Looking for more crafting games? Take a look at these reviews:
Bear and Breakfast – A Cute and Casual B&B Management SimHavendock – A Fun and Relaxing Dock-Building AdventureAPICO – What’s the Buzz on this Easy Going Beekeeping Simulator?

Did you like this article? Consider supporting Indie Hive through Patreon! Patrons receive an early access article on Sundays!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply