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Pathways into Darkness: Wikis


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Pathways into Darkness
Developer(s) Bungie Software Products Corporation
Publisher(s) Bungie Software Products Corporation
Designer(s) Jason Jones, Colin Brent
Platform(s) Mac OS
Release date(s) 1993
Genre(s) First Person Adventure
Mode(s) Single-player
Media CD
Input methods Key board, mouse

Pathways Into Darkness is a video game created for the Apple Macintosh and published by the Bungie Software Products Corporation (now Bungie Studios) in 1993. Its tagline was "This is the closest you'll get to virtual reality without a helmet!"



The game's style is an unusual blend between that of the first-person shooter and an RPG with several conventions associated with a survival horror game. While much of the game consists of fighting monsters, a great deal of time is also spent solving difficult puzzles, and conversing, via a magic yellow crystal, with dead men (mostly from an ill fated Nazi expedition), who know a few of the pyramid's secrets.


Pathways Into Darkness casts the player as a member of a US Army Special Forces team on a mission to prevent an ancient godlike being from awakening and destroying the Earth. In order to succeed, the team has to enter an ancient pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula, reach the bottom level, and detonate a low yield nuclear device in an attempt to stun the Dreaming God and bury it under millions of tons of rock, with more permanent measures to be later taken by the Jjaro, the alien race which warned the US government of the threat. However, before the game begins, during the team's deployment, the player character's parachute fails to open, and the resulting impact both knocks out the character and breaks or scatters most of his equipment. Believing their comrade to be dead, the rest of the team enters the pyramid. Several hours later, their teammate arrives, armed with only a flashlight and survival knife. Alone, the player must fight his or her way through the monsters which inhabit the pyramid, and complete the team's mission to detonate the device before the god fully awakens in five game days. [1]

The player's path to the lower portions of the pyramid is initially sealed; the player must ascend to upper levels to retrieve the mysterious "alien pipes" required to open it. All of the dead humans encountered up to this point are Nazi soldiers who were sent to the pyramid to find weapons for use in the second World War. Most were almost completely uninformed about the nature of their mission, and nearly all speak ill of their commander, Muller.

After unlocking the door to the lower levels, the special forces agent eventually encounters the body of Muller, the leader of the Nazi expedition. However, Muller is deliberately unhelpful and lies about most things the player asks him, including his mission. More informative is Muller's second, Friedrich, who explains that Muller was searching for a glass vial said to contain the essence of a demon. Another important event spurred by conversations with the dead is the discovery of the cedar box, a mysterious artifact with the power to duplicate anything put inside it, thus ending the player's limited ammo concerns.

Eventually, the player character discovers the remains of his teammates, most of whom were killed by a large flame-throwing monster, though a few died from other causes. They direct him to the nuclear device needed to complete the mission and inform him that the arming code for it has been changed (from the one provided in the manual.) The player also encounters several Hispanic corpses, apparently treasure hunters. One of these found the glass vial the Nazis sought and opened it: the total ramifications of this are never made clear, but his corpse is the only one which cannot be spoken to, apparently because its head is missing.

The lowest accessible level of the pyramid is a series of enemy-filled rooms connected via teleporters. The nuclear device must be placed and armed in one of these rooms. Also found in these rooms is an "alien gemstone" needed to leave the pyramid.

The game has several endings depending on whether the player remembered to set the nuclear device, whether or not there is a radio beacon in the inventory on leaving the pyramid, and when the device was set to explode. Forgetting to set the device, or setting it to explode at any time past the awakening of the dreaming god will result in Earth's destruction, while the device exploding before the player can exit the pyramid or reach minimum safe distance from the explosion (the latter time is affected by the presence of a radio beacon to call an extraction team) will result in a Pyrrhic victory. The "best" ending is achieved by leaving the pyramid with a beacon at least 20 game minutes before the device is set to go off, though the character also survives without a beacon if enough time is given to reach minimum safe distance on foot.



Conversations, all of them with dead people, are a significant aspect of Pathways into Darkness. The main purpose of conversations is to give the player puzzle information, usually by stating the circumstances of the person's death. Conversations also provide the player with strategies to defeat certain monsters and bits of story information.

Rather than relying on a conversation tree, players are able to type keywords into a dialogue box. When a certain keyword (typically found in a previous statement by the dead person in question) comes up, the dead person will give a response. If there is no response to a keyword, the dead person will ask what the player means by this. The manual gives a starting point by mentioning that all dead people respond to "name" and "death", by giving their name and describing how they died, respectively.


Much of Pathways into Darkness requires the player to fight various monsters. Unlike most of its contemporaries, a player cannot "run and gun". Not all monsters can be killed in conventional ways, monsters will (in some places) respawn over time, ammo is rare, players usually are under equipped, and players move roughly the same speed as monsters. While a player can usually take a considerable amount of damage, health can only be regained by resting or by drinking a blue potion. Resting is risky, as it speeds up time by a considerable amount and leaves the player open to attack. Blue potions are exceedingly rare, and are the only way to cure poison, which makes it extremely important to save them for later levels when even common monsters can poison the player. To top it all off, the player is equipped only with the Walther p4 and the survival knife for roughly half the game.


Over the course of the game, the player is able to find many items. Some can be used for a gameplay effect, some provide points, and some are merely for flavor and have no use. Every four points gained leads to an two-point increase in maximum health, making otherwise-useless items important to the player. Items can be divided into five categories.

  • Weapons

Weapons are the main method of combating monsters. Some weapons use multiple types of ammo, including HE and Sabot (armor piercing.)

  • Crystals

During the course of the game the player acquires several different crystals, each of which has a different special power. After equipping a crystal, it takes several seconds (the exact duration varies from crystal to crystal) to charge before it can be used. After each use the crystal takes longer and longer to fully charge up. If used too often, a crystal will shatter, becoming useless and vanishing from the player's inventory. The only exception to this limitation is the yellow crystal (which allows the player to talk with the dead), which can be used an unlimited number times.

  • Potions

Occasionally the player will encounter a potion in a bottle. Depending on its type, a potion can heal the player character (or cure him of poison), slow time for all enemies, poison the character, or make the character temporarily invincible. The effects of a potion only last for a short duration.

  • Miscellaneous Items

Certain objects are used at certain times in order to solve puzzles (such as the red cloak), are required for a feature of a game (such as the map), will hold other objects (such as the canvas bag), or serve a unique role (such as the cedar box, which duplicates any ammo put into it.)

  • Treasure

Treasure items have no inherent in-game function other than to increase the player's score. Doing so increases the player character's maximum health.

Connections with other Bungie games

Pathways Into Darkness is considered by many to be the beginning of the "Bungie Mythos", a large timeline which connects this and later Bungie games.

The most salient of these connections is the nature of the "waking god" and the helpful aliens who inform the United States government of its nature. The "waking god" is believed to be a W'rkncacnter, a race or singular entity in the Marathon series which shares similar properties, primarily ancient origins, incredible power and the capacity to cause destruction on a global or cosmic scale simply by existing.

Also, the aliens who inform the US of the waking god are the Jjaro, an ancient alien race that is featured heavily in the Marathon and possibly Halo series, although they are never mentioned by name in the latter.

Although it is never directly stated, the Marathon character is rumored to be a cyborg, formed from the dead bodies of soldiers. The character feels as if he has done certain things before, or as if he has dreamed about them. These 'certain things' match up well with nearly identical events which the main character from Pathways experienced.

The most subtle of the connections between Pathways Into Darkness and Marathon lie in a single computer terminal in the latter game. While seemingly there to provide proof that a human AI is distorting human history data (to prevent invading aliens from knowing of Earth's location) the text is actually a highly corrupted version of the original Pathways Into Darkness story.

The original story

The original plotline for Pathways Into Darkness focused on a group of semi-immortal humans, who had maintained immortality since the time of the Roman Empire, owing to a Fountain of Youth. Every seven years, the leader of the group would have to go down into underground caverns to retrieve the water for the rest of the group to maintain immortality. The player would represent a member of this group, who has been randomly chosen to for this, since the last leader did not return. [1]

Other influences

Many fans have noted similarities between the dreaming alien god of Pathways Into Darkness and the terrors of H.P. Lovecraft fiction. In particular, the description of the god as an ancient entity, from outside of known space, involved in wars beyond history, and affecting reality with its dreams, are reminiscent of Lovecraft's Elder Gods or the Great Old Ones.


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