Gameplay

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.

Storyline

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.

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.

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