Released in August of 1993, Pathways into Darkness was the third title published and developed by Bungie Software Products Corporation, and the first significant financial successes for the company, laying the groundwork for their later work in the Marathon series and beyond. Developed for the Apple Macintosh computer system, Pathways is primarily a first-person shooter, though it also features a number of adventure game mechanics, most notably the incorporation of puzzles and dialogue, as well as a few tropes of the role-playing genre, such as stat and skill progression. The game was created by two individuals: Jason Jones, who acted as designer and programmer, and Colin Brent, who produced the game's art. Bungie co-founder Alex Seropian helped in marketing the game and creating the Pathways manual. Pathways is notable for being the first real-time texture mapped 3D game for the Macintosh as well as the first FPS game to grace the platform, since id Software's Wolfenstein 3D would not appear on the Mac until early 1995.
The seeds of Pathways into Darkness were first planted in the mind of programmer Jason Jones in the summer of 1992, when he first witnessed Wolfenstein 3D while living on campus at the University of Chicago. Knowing that the Mac could produce similar graphics, Jones began to put together a rudimentary 3D engine that at first was only capable of displaying basic wire-frame quadrilateral shapes. From then until the end of 1992, Jones would continue to work on the engine; though the initial plan was to use it as the basis for a three-dimensional version of Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete, this idea was eventually abandoned, as it was deemed that the change in perspective would not suit the game, and that additionally the online nature of Minotaur, which required players to have an internet connection, would only serve to limit the game's appeal.
Starting in January of 1993, the game proper slowly started to take shape as work on story details and game assets began. A number of potential Pathways story were entertained, progressing from, in Jones' words, "very simple and very cliché plots" to "very interesting and unique but extremely difficult to understand stories." One discarded story that fell within the latter category involved a group of Romans who discovered a mountain spring capable of increasing their lifespans. Every seven years, their leader would return to the spring in order to gather more life-bestowing water. Periodically, however, the chosen one would die while descending into the mountain cave to retrieve the water, and the player character was to be an individual who was selected at random to make the journey after a number of his peers failed to return. Eventually, the team decided to go with a plot somewhere in between the more cliché and the more involved options, since, according to Jones, the developers feared that a more demanding story might alienate players not interested in following it.
Due to its fairly meager budget, the Pathways team was extremely small, and as with Minotaur, Jones handled coding for the new game more or less single-handedly. In addition to coding the engine itself, Jones also created a game editor that allowed for objects to be placed within levels. Pathways' second team member, Colin Brent, was brought on to produce art for Pathways; his duties included drawing monsters for the game manually, which were then scanned and implementing as black and white sprites in-game in order to test their functionality. Once any imperfections were ironed out, the sprites were then finalized in Photoshop, where they were rendered in 24-bit color.
While Bungie had initially hoped to ship the game by June or July, this was later revised to an August 1993 deadline, which would allow the game to be released alongside the MacWorld Expo. By July, however, only the early "Pyramid" levels were complete, while the underground segments of the later game had yet to be created. At this point, Jones reportedly began to put in eighteen-hour work days, helping to bring the game to a mostly complete state by the end of the month. Pathways officially went into beta just one week before MacWorld, and 500 copies of the game were completed in time for the show. In spite of the late-development crunch, the final product was free of any major bugs.
On May 5, 1994, an emissary of the Jjaro, an ancient alien race, appears in holographic form in front of the President of the United States, interrupting a meeting with his senior staff in order to inform him that the world as they know it will come to an end in just eight days. Calling itself Ryu'Toth, the Jjaro representative explains to the President that a powerful being, a "dreaming god," lies buried deep within the planet, and that this entity is currently in the process of awakening, to the detriment of all those who inhabit the Earth. Claiming to have already assessed mankind's capabilities, Ryu'Toth elucidates a plan to prevent this awakening process from fully completing by detonating a low-yield nuclear bomb in the vicinity of the entity, thus temporarily incapacitating it and burying it under untold tons of rock. Though this will not kill the dreaming god, Ryu'Toth claims, it will disable it long enough for the Jjaro to arrive and deal with it more definitively.
Three days later, a group of eight US Special Forces operatives are airdropped at an ancient pyramid somewhere within the Yucatán Peninsula, fully equipped to carry out the emissary's plan. The player character is one of their number, although, due to a malfunction in his primary parachute, which leads to a rough landing that knocks him unconscious, his fellow soldiers decide to leave him behind to pursue their mission. When he awakens two hours later, the protagonist finds that most of his equipment is lost or broken, and without any knowledge of what happened to his team, he decides to proceed into the pyramid alone and pursue their objective before the entity awakens in five days time. Along the way, he will not only discover the fate of his compatriots, but also that of others who were drawn to the pyramid for various reasons, including a detachment of Nazis who sought an artifact to help Germany in the war effort, and a group of Cuban treasure hunters who explored the pyramid some forty years later.
Though the game can end in a number of ways, the epilogue to Pathways, published in the official hint book, assumes that the player successfully activated the bomb at the pyramid's lowest chamber and also reached minimum safe distance in time to avoid the blast. After completing his mission, the player character, called Sergeant Eddings in the epilogue, demonstrates to his superiors the use of an Ice Crystal he found within the pyramid, though the object is destroyed in the process. He also describes the various beasts he encountered during his mission, which are corroborated by similar descriptions offered by the Tlecoatcha, a tribe of Native Americans found to be living near the pyramid. Shortly after returning, Eddings mysteriously disappeared for several days, and though he maintains that he was simply on vacation during this period, some have speculated that he in truth used this time to either hide or destroy various artifacts he had surreptitiously brought with him upon exiting the pyramid. Eddings denies this.
Pathways into Darkness uses a multi-pane interface that displays a variety of information to the player by way of four separate windows. The primary window, and the one in which the player will spend most of their time, is the world view window, where the player interacts directly with the game world through movement and the use of weapons and items. This is done by default through keyboard commands, though, alternatively, gamepad and mouse support is also offered. Secondary to the world view is the inventory window, which displays all items currently held by the player character; while some important items can be activated from the world view, many can only be used by double-clicking on them from the inventory pane. The message window provides helpful information relating to the player's actions and the environment, while also providing buttons that allow the player to rest, search their surroundings, and access their automap. Lastly, the player window houses the player's health and power bars and shows the currently equipped weapon and crystal, while below that the progress sub-section offers information on the player's current elevation and point total, the value of their collected treasures, and their current weapon proficiencies.
The main action of the game revolves around exploring a large multi-tiered pyramid through the first person, with the eventual goal of reaching its lowest level in order to activate a nuclear device that will prevent the dreaming god's awakening. Across all levels, the player is accosted by various monsters, which can be defeated with a variety of weapons found throughout the game world. Proficiency with each of the game's firearms can be increased through use, and the player's maximum hit points, which start at six, can be increased by two for every four points the player acquires, with points being granted for finding important items within the pyramid. The player can avoid enemy projectiles by strafing, called dodging in the game's terminology, and if at any point the player sustains damage, hit points can be restored by resting. Trying to rest in a dangerous area may result in a surprise monster attack, however, and time also passes more quickly while resting, which is important to consider given that the game has a finite time limit. Saving takes place at predetermined red runes scattered throughout the pyramid, which act as reusable save points.
In addition to combat, Pathways also requires the player to deduce ways to progress further into the pyramid, a process which is often tied to conversing with the dead. After obtaining the Yellow Crystal early on, the player can opt to activate it near a dead body in order to speak to it. These Previously Living Sentient Beings (or PLSBs) will frequently divulge information which may help the player access new areas, bypass seemingly insurmountable dangers, or solve puzzles. Dialogue with PLSBs is represented by a text parser which the player can use to enter words or phrases that the deceased person might respond to; more often than not, keywords from previous statements can be input in order to elicit further information on a topic. On top of their gameplay utility, PLSBs also serve as the primary vessel for conveying Pathways' story.
Throughout everything, it is up to the player to remember their primary imperative, and the time limit associated with it. Pathways can end in various ways depending on the player's performance, including failure states if the player does not reach the bottom level in time or exits the pyramid without activating the bomb. Ideally, the player is meant to activate the bomb with a long enough timer for them to return to ground level, exit the pyramid, and call for extraction via a radio beacon; alternately, given a long enough fuse, it is possible for the player to escape the blast radius on foot if they don't have a radio beacon. After the game ends, a final post-game stat screen is presented, which rates the player based on multiple criteria, including accuracy, time remaining, and number of kills, compiling them into a final numerical score for that playthrough.
At the outset of the game, the player starts with only their Survival Knife, as well as expert proficiency with melee combat, the Colt .45, and the M-16 Rifle. The latter two weapons are never found in a usable state, meaning that the player is required to build proficiency for all weapons acquired later on. With greater experience, weapons will inflict greater damage, and similarly, firing weapons at close range tends to yield greater results. In the case of the M-79 and the AK-47, it is also possible to switch to a different ammo type if available. All firearms will reload automatically after a certain number of rounds depending on their clip size. Unlike crystals, which can only be changed through the inventory window, weapons can be switched on the fly in the world view window by using the 1-5 keys on the keyboard.
Survival KnifeThough certainly not a flashy weapon, the Survival Knife has decent utility, especially early in the game when ammo is scarce. Certain monster types, such as Headless and Ghouls, also seem to have a hard time retaliating against rapid knife strikes. The meager damage of the Survival Knife when compared to firearms becomes more of a liability later on as tougher monster arise.
Walther P4The Walther P4 is the first usable firearm the player can acquire and the only one available for a large portion of the game. At eight rounds, it has a fairly small clip size, and its rate of fire is not incredibly fast either, though its damage outpaces the Survival Knife and furthermore affords the opportunity to keep one's distance from some of the more dangerous foes in the early game.
MP-41Found in the depths of the catacombs underneath the pyramid, the MP-41 offers a greatly increased rate of fire over the Walther P4, as well as a substantially larger 32-round clip size. Unless ammunition is a concern, the MP-41 is usually the better choice between the two, and once magazines for it are available in ample supply, it more or less replaces the starting pistol.
M-79 Grenade Launcher
A well-known single-shot, break-action grenade launcher, the M-79 can be retrieved from the body of one of the player's former squad mates deep within the pyramid. It is unparalleled amongst Pathways' weapons in terms of damager per shot, but its lengthy reload time paired with the fact that it essentially consumes an entire clip with each shot makes it more of a specialty weapon.
With the exception of the Yellow Crystal, which is meant to allow players to speak to the dead, crystals in Pathways are secondary weapons intended to complement the player's more traditional arsenal. They can help out in particularly tough encounters, and in some instances a monster may only be vulnerable to a particular type of crystal. They have no discernible ammunition source, though they must be fully charged before each use, and will eventually break if used enough times (again, the Yellow Crystal is the exception here). More powerful crystals generally require longer charging periods between uses, and repeated use will also increase the duration required to charge a crystal. By default, activating an equipped crystal is done with the Tab key.
Brought to life by the awakening of the dreaming god, the monsters of Pathways are hostile abominations with little motivation other than the death of the player. Little is understood of their origins, as they do not resemble any known terrestrial creatures. Most behave in straightforward fashion by attacking the player as soon as they are within range, gradually closing the distance between volleys. Monsters not only exist at fixed points within levels, but may also spawn randomly depending on the parameters of a particular map. If the player is not careful, they can also interrupt rest attempts; more powerful examples can also be immune to certain types of damage or, in extreme cases, completely invulnerable.
HeadlessFound all throughout the upper reaches of the pyramid, Headless are bizarre biological creatures which seem to consist of lower torsos with legs. A closer inspection reveals even more disturbing details, including three eyes along each side of the torso, and a lengthy tongue sprouting from within. The Headless attacks by projecting a corrosive expectorant toward the player. It is incredibly frail, succumbing to just a few pistol shots or stabs from the Survival Knife; the latter weapon can be doubly effective, as knife jabs can interrupt the Headless' projectile attacks.
ZombieContrary to their name, Zombies do not appear to be biological in nature, dissolving into dust upon being killed. They also do not flinch upon being attacked, making them more dangerous to attack at close range, since their projectiles cannot be interrupted. They are known to rip bones from within themselves and hurl them at their foes, though, curiously, they seem to have a limitless supply of these. Much about them is not properly understood, and locals even report that ingesting their remains can cause a person to become a Zombie themselves.
PhantasmThe Phantasm (also referred to on occasion as a Banshee, Shade, or Specter) is a partially transparent floating entity not entirely dissimilar in appearance to a ghost. Unsurprisingly given this fact, they are impervious to damage by physical attacks, instead requiring the player to attack them with some form of elemental damage. Though they can be difficult to deal with, as most weapons will be useless against them, they can only attack the player from close range. They also seem to emit no heat, as they are invisible to a player wearing Infra-Red Goggles.
GhoulThe humanoid Ghoul is perhaps the least outlandish of the pyramid's denizens, though only by a small margin. Unlike the majority of its monstrous compatriots, the Ghoul does not appear to have any supernatural powers. Rather, it attacks by picking up and hurling large rocks at its opponents using its considerable strength. Due to its power, this projectile is both faster and more damaging than many similar attacks in Pathways. A Ghoul that sustains damage while in mid-attack will be interrupted, making them surprisingly susceptible to the Survival Knife.
NightmareFloating through the air via unknown means, Nightmares are wholly alien creatures that attack with strange, multicolored projectiles. While it is not uncommon for foes to close the distance between themselves and the player, Nightmares seem more interested in this than most, and the reason becomes readily apparent once they are killed. When its body is ruptured, whatever volatile gases or other substances housed within the Nightmare tend to explode violently. This volatile expiration causes damage to the player if they are close enough to it.
OozeThough humanoid at a very basic level, the disgusting Ooze fits right in with the other members of Pathways' freakish cavalcade of mutants and monsters. Among its more unsettling characteristics is a head completely devoid of features, which is complemented by a large vertical maw that runs the length of its torso. It assails opponents by tearing out small pieces of itself and hurling them at potential enemies. Oozes are capable of absorbing a fairly substantial amount of damage before giving up the ghost, and are furthermore immune to freezing.
Invisible WraithEncountered primarily within the Catacombs level, "A Plague of Demons," Invisible Wraiths are known for being, well, invisible. The player at first has to rely on auditory cues as well as the direction of incoming fire to divine their location. Not long after, however, it is possible to acquire the Infra-Red Goggles, which allow them to be seen normally. Though they are somewhat fragile, Wraiths are more mobile than most foes, fire more frequently, and enjoy immunity to Violet and Green Crystals. Fortunately, their attacks do only slight damage individually.
Shocking SphereThe Shocking Sphere is, in simple terms, a floating spherical object that can electrocute its targets. It gives outward appearances of being metallic in nature, suggesting that it may be mechanical, although its completely uniform surface does not betray its inner workings. Whatever its composition may be, the Shocking Sphere is unfazed by elemental attacks, including Blue, Orange, Violet, and Green Crystals. The Shocking Sphere moves quickly and attacks quite rapidly when close to the player, doing small increments of damage with each hit.
SkitterBeing most likely some heretofore undocumented form of arthropod, the Skitter is a light blue, tripodal creature whose demesne exists well below the pyramid's ground level, where it is commonly found in groups. It emits a dense purple ball of an unknown substance when threatened, which it can project toward its target with considerable speed. Much like other biological enemies in Pathways, such as Headless and Ghouls, the Skitter can be interrupted in the midst of an attack, making it a more manageable foe if the player keeps it pinned down.
GhastWhile similar in appearance to the Zombie, the Ghast is in reality a far more dangerous and resilient threat. This is primarily due to its unique attack; when it catches sight of the player, the Ghast will initiate a localize earthquake that shakes the screen and causes considerable damage. Once started, this attack will strike the player even if they break line-of-sight with the Ghast. At the beginning of this attack process, though, the Ghast lets out a telltale cry, and if the player can quickly damage the creature, the attack can be successfully negated.
Venomous SkitterWith a distinct purple coloration and a much tougher hide, the Venomous Skitter is clearly an evolved form of the standard Skitter. In almost all respects, its behavior conforms to that of its blue brethren, and it is similarly found in numbers more often than not. The main distinction between the two is the nature of their attacks; while slower than the Skitter's projectile, the Venomous Skitter's green bile attack is highly poisonous, inflicting the player with a lasting status effect if it connects. The projectile itself, however, deals only a token amount of damage.
Greater NightmareThe Greater Nightmare is without a doubt one of the more intimidating normal monsters in Pathways. This can be attributed to multiple factors, not least of which is its hit point totals, which far exceed that of a normal Nightmare. Additionally, it is heavily armored, meaning that it can only be properly damaged by specialized types of armor-piercing ammunition, such as SABOT rounds or Projectile Cartridges. To make matters worse, its projectile possesses homing properties that require the player to obstruct its path in order to avoid taking damage.
Big Blue MeanieThe single most deadly opponent that the player is required to fight, the Big Blue Meanie is encountered toward the end of "Need A Light?", where it is revealed that the remainder of the player's Special Forces unit died in a confrontation with the beast. It fires a single fireball from each arm with every volley, though the most formidable attribute of the Meanie by far is its seemingly endless hit point pool. It can absorb well in excess of a dozen HE grenade rounds, forcing the player to adopt hit-and-run tactics in order to gradually whittle down its health.
SentinelMore of an obstruction device than a true enemy, the Sentinel is found in the lower levels of the pyramid, where they guard specific corridors. It does not actively attack, though if the player tries to attack it or pass through the corridor the Sentinel protects, they will find an impassible yellow barrier that bars their way. At first, the player is simply forced to find alternate means of progression, though once the Green Crystal is acquired, it can be used to attack and kill Sentinels through their force fields, thus opening up new avenues for exploration.
Green OozeThough similar in appearance to the standard Ooze variant, the Green Ooze takes the already considerable durability of the beast to new heights. That is to say, Green Oozes cannot be killed by any means available to the player. Much like Sentinels, Green Oozes do not function as monsters per se, but rather as progression barriers that the player must figure out how to bypass. More specifically, the player discovers that Green Oozes do not attack any person that has been poisoned, and thus willfully inducing a poisoned state will allow safe passage.
Giant Purple Mutant HellbeastThe Giant Purple Mutant Hellbeast is another monster type with complete damage immunity, although, thankfully, there is only one of them in the game. Unlike the Sentinel and the Green Ooze, there is no real trick required to bypass the Hellbeast. When confronted by it, the player must simply run past it and escape to the next level of the pyramid as quickly as possible. The presence of a large number of Ghasts in the same area makes this a more difficult proposition, as they can quickly kill the player if they are not dealt with expediently.
The DemonLocated at the very nadir of the ancient pyramid of the dreaming god, the mysterious Demon does not attack directly, instead choosing to call forth twelve successively harder waves of monsters to impede the player. These waves feature, in order of appearance, Headless, Zombies, Phantasms, Ghouls, Nightmares, Oozes, Wraiths, Spheres, Skitters, Ghasts, Venomous Skitters, and Greater Nightmares. Upon defeating a wave, a teleporter is opened that transports the player to the next wave. After the last wave is defeated, the Demon can be easily killed with any weapon.
In addition to weapons and crystals, the player can find various useful (and dubiously useful) items throughout Pathways. These range from weapon ammo and consumable potions to quest items and specialty gear required to fight certain monsters. Items can be examined from the inventory pane to gather further information about them, although item descriptions do not always fully reveal an item's functionality, requiring the player to do their own experimentation in many instances. Generally speaking, there are two main types of items in Pathways: those that provide a one-time, temporary benefit (i.e., consumables), and those that provide constant effects for as long as they are held or equipped (non-consumables).
Clear Blue PotionBy far the most prevalent potion found within Pathways, the Clear Blue Potion has two potential effects depending on the player's status when they consume it. If poisoned, drinking a Blue Potion will immediately remove the poison status effect, while any other time it will heal the player to their current maximum hit point total.
Bubbling Red PotionConsuming a Bubbling Red Potion allows the player to enter a bullet time of sorts. While active, the player continues to move and attack at their normal rate, while nearby enemies and their projectiles are noticeably slower. Naturally, this is most useful during large-scale battles with dangerous opponents.
Pale Violet PotionQuaffing a Pale Violet Potion surrounds the player with a protective force field that completely absorbs damage for a period of time. Like the Bubbling Red Potion, this is most effectively used during extremely hairy encounters in which the player would normally sustain heavy damage.
Thick Brown PotionDowning a rare Thick Brown Potion has no positive effect on the player. Rather, the player is inflicted with the poison status effect when they do so. The primary (and possibly only) desirable use for this potion is as a shield against Green Oozes, who show no aggression toward poisoned players.
Cedar BoxFound somewhere near the game's midpoint, the Cedar Box is arguably the most important single item in the latter half of the game. It is capable of duplicating the last ammo type placed within it once every few minutes. This essentially gives the player a limitless supply of ammunition once they have acquired it.
Red CloakThe Red Cloak is essentially the opposite of a Bubbling Red Potion, speeding time for the user rather than slowing it down. While this is not normally a desirable state of affairs for the wearer, as it causes monsters to move and attack more quickly, it is a crucial item required for a particular late-game puzzle.
Canvas BagThe Canvas Bag is primarily an organizational tool, allowing the player to sort certain items and hide them from view within their inventory window. There is a finite limit to the amount of items the bag can hold, though it is also possible to acquire more than one of them before the end of the game.
Red Velvet BagSeemingly without a bottom, the Red Velvet Bag can store an unlimited number of items, though it is located farther within the pyramid. Since encumbrance is not really an issue in Pathways, the use of this and other bags is more for those who simply wish to declutter their inventory window.
MapUnlike many games, Pathways' automap is represented by a physical item in the inventory screen, implying that the player character is actually filling out the map as he goes. If they so choose, players can discard this item at any point, though the automap will be unavailable until it is retrieved again.
Digital WatchThe Digital Watch is equipped by default at the outset of the game, and has the effect of displaying the in-game time in the upper left corner of the message window. It can be unequipped and discarded at any point, though the time-sensitive nature of Pathways makes this course of action inadvisable.
FlashlightOne of the few items the player starts out with, the Flashlight provides a constant source of illumination that slightly increases the player's effective visual range. For the most part, there is no reason to turn off the Flashlight, though a certain pest in "We Can See In The Dark... Can You?" requires it.
Infra-Red GogglesEquipping the Infra-Red Goggles extends the player's vision range farther than the Flashlight allows, and also tints the screen red. Additionally, Invisible Wraiths can be seen normally whilst wearing them, though Phantasms, which are visible to the naked eye, are rendered invisible.
Amethyst RingWearing the Amethyst Ring causes the player's crystal powers to charge more slowly than they otherwise would. While it is not entirely clear why one would want this effect outside of making the game more difficult, it is still worth at least picking up, as it nets the player a single point to do so.
Ruby RingHaving the inverse effect of the Amethyst Ring, the Ruby Ring actually reduces charge time for crystal powers, a far more desirable effect. It is found within the Lead Box, an item required in order to complete the player's main mission. Unfortunately, it is guarded by the Giant Purple Mutant Hellbeast.
Pathways into Darkness was both a critical and commercial success for Bungie. The Macintosh gaming press responded very positively to the title, and it received a number of awards as well, including "Adventure Game of the Year" from Inside Mac Games and "Best Role-Playing Game" from Macworld. Sales expanded far beyond Bungie's modest expectations for the title, and in February of 1994 it was estimated that the title would reach seven-digit sales figures. The resounding success of Pathways allowed Bungie to move into a proper office (previously, the company had been based out of an apartment) and expand its staff for their next title. In spite of the performance of Pathways, Jones did not express any interest in creating a sequel, elucidating via a 1993 interview his general disinterest in sequels, as well as a desire to explore new implementations of rendering technology that would not necessarily suit the Pathways universe.Download Pathways into Darkness Full Game