With an established and well-regarded franchise at the back of it, we’ve had high hopes for Pathfinder: Gallowspire Survivors. And while it’s not a bad Vampire Survivors-like game, it’s not the most captivating or interesting. At least not yet. Launching into Early Access today, there’s still work to be done on the game, and so we’re remaining hopeful that over the next few months, it becomes a more appealing prospect.
The gameplay experience of Pathfinder: Gallowspire Survivors is pretty much what you’d expect of a survivors game: move around the screen as more and more enemies appear, with your weapons and skills automatically attacking them. It’s rather slow to get going, though, with the first few levels not offering much in the way of enemy density or challenge. It isn’t until you reach the first boss that the challenging nature of Gallowspire Survivors really shows its face – this is a true RPG boss fight that requires you to learn and dodge enemy attack patterns. You might auto-attack, but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to use some modicum of skill to come out successful.
These boss fights, then, are so far the highlight of Pathfinder: Gallowspire Survivors, but getting to the first is a bit of a bore. It doesn’t help that there’s only three characters to choose from, and each one can only have a limited amount of abilities in their arsenal. Once you’ve picked up three or four attacks, each level-up following isn’t as exciting as it should be, with only an incremental amount of damage being added each time. Passive upgrades, too, aren’t anything exciting: don’t expect to have a ridiculous pick-up radius or superspeed. Everything here is much more low-key than other games in the genre.
That’s perhaps not necessarily a bad thing, but it means it’s much harder to feel like an infinite badass as you might in, say, Vampire Survivors and Army of Ruin. Perhaps it will come later: there are more than 60 different abilities to unlock as you play, and perhaps we’re yet to unlock the coolest, badass-est of them. But with the start of each game feeling like a slow slog, we’re never quite as eager to jump back in as we are with other games in the genre.
It’s not all bad, though. Each character can be upgraded independently, so there’s good reason to use all three (even if you do prefer one over the others). And your coins can be used to enhance a variety of potions that you’ll find as you play. And to give each run its own, individual purpose, you’ll always have a set of ever-changing goals to work towards, with rewards up for grabs once you’ve completed them.
We simply expected a little more, but Pathfinder: Gallowspire Survivors is shaping up to be a decent entry into the survivors-like genre. We hope the balance of the opening levels is tweaked a little to make things a bit more exciting – and a some more interesting upgrades wouldn’t go amiss, too. But it is worth persevering with, because the boss fights here stand out above the crowd.