App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Pathos very much feels like a game where someone looked at Monument Valley and said “hey, what if we made one of those?” It's a simple puzzle game with a minimal art style, but it fails to really capitalize on what makes Monument Valley so revered and struggles to establish its own identity.
In Pathos, you play as a young girl who must venture through a series of levels to save the world, or your mother… or, something like that. The game is pretty vague about what it is you're supposed to be doing. In any case, this means you'll be going through environments where you'll need to flip switches and move objects to reach a door to the next level.
It's all fairly standard stuff that you might see in something like Monument Valley until Pathos introduces its flipping mechanic. For many puzzles in this game, flipping your mobile device over reveals a sort of “shadow version” of the level you're playing, which may hide the exact things you need to reach the exit.
In addition to the flipping mechanic Pathos also introduces a series of animal companions that you unlock along the way. These animals work with you in tandem on puzzles and help your protagonist reach things that might have otherwise been inaccessible.
Things like cats, birds, and even narwhals can help you in Pathos, and each of these companions have their own special mechanics governing how they might help you. Most of these mechanics are light and their uses obvious, but they inject some amount of personality in Pathos where there is very little otherwise.
With a flipping mechanic and animal companions, Pathos shows that it has ideas and potential to be something special. Unfortunately though, these two mechanics are two of the most frustrating aspects of the game.
For instance, Pathos frequently asks players to time their flips to solve a puzzle or reach a new area. This is easier said than done since the game sometimes has trouble detecting that you've flipped your device over. As for the animals, many of their mechanics are too simple to be satisfying, while others have pathing issues that can cause levels to bug out and force you to restart a level.
The bottom line
Pathos largely feels like an imitation of Monument Valley, and not in a good way. Although the game sports two mechanics that should make it stand out as an original game, neither of them are particularly well implemented. As a result, Pathos ends up feeling like a pretty middle-of-the-road game with some technical issues.