Pathways Into Darkness

"The hologram of the Jjaro diplomat interrupted, quite deliberately, an important briefing of the President by his senior military staff. It told them they had eight days to save the world."

Bungie Software's Pathways Into Darkness was in many ways the forerunner to Marathon. Released in August 1993 Pathways Into Darkness was the first continuous-motion, texture mapped 3D game for the Macintosh.

The story centres around your single-handed attempts to stop an alien god from awakening at the base of a mysterious pyramid on the Yucatan Peninsula. As part of an eight man Special Forces team, your job is to carry a small, low-yield nuclear device down to the bottom of the pyramid where the alien's body resides, arm the bomb, and try to get the hell out before the big bang!

Unfortunately during the jump from the C-151 your primary parachute fails and you plummet to earth. Moments before greeting mother earth your reserve chute opens and miraculously you survive only to find the muzzle of your trusty M-16 is bent.Separated from your seven buddies you hotfoot it to the pyramid. Armed with only a knife you have about five days before the dreaming God awakes, sometime in the afternoon of Friday 13th (no kidding!).

Pathways is a race against time with multiple possible endings. Jim Mitchell, maintainer of the Pathways Into Darkness Story page, has identified 6 (of the 7) possible endings to Pathways. Yes folks - fail to find the bomb, a radio beacon, the new bomb code, or get out in time and you are history. But the seventh ending reveals a truth so shocking that no human mind can grasp it!

There are number of similarities between Pathways Into Darkness and Marathon. Pathways introduced the Jjaro who would later play a central part in the Marathon Story. There are also similarites between the sleeping God in Pathways and the W'rkncacnter in Infinity, a new section concerning this will appear soon. But the similarities just don't end there.

Jim Mitchell <> writes:

Have you noticed the similarities between the Alien Musical Instrument in Pathways and the Alien weapon in Marathon? I've attached a pictures of each item plus the description of the Alien Musical Instrument.

On that note compare the lines:

This bizarre musical instrument reminds you vaguely of a book you once read while you were a child. You can't quite place it.


Oddly, this is familiar to you, as if it were from an old dream, but you can't exactly remember...

Again, the similarities are obvious. It seems the links between PID and Marathon have become a little bit stronger...

Jim sent in the following pics:


And yes this text is very similar to sections in the Marathon manual:

A smile which reminds you of something from your past, but you can't remember exactly what it is.


Oddly , this is familiar to you, as if it were from an old dream, but you can't exactly remember...

Scott Jaeger <> writes:

You know the last level in PiD? You know, the one with the identical rooms full of monsters? Well, play a game on the Infinity net map Beyond Thunderdome. The room which teleports you to the inner ledges is suspiciously built like the PiD rooms, teleporter poly and all.

Jim 'Von' Mitchell <> writes:

Another PID/Marathon similarity:

The leader of the German expedition to the pyramid in Pathways was named Muller. We soon learn that he was not the most caring of people.

The Lost Network Packets sent to you by Bungie Software also contain a main character named Muller. Except in this case we receive a full name: Volker Von Müller.

Muller wasn't the most caring of people? Yes indeed. Muller had a habit of shooting his own men in the back.

"Muller was our captain. An ugly, short little man. Totally devoted to our country. A real bastard. He shot me twice in the back."

"All my friends are dead now. Seven above, the rest below. Muller killed them all."

"Muller was a greedy bastard."

Muller, damn him. This is all his fault. I'm sure he's dead, somewhere...

Was Muller really killed? That question has burned on the dying lips of pyramid explorers for years. Yes we found a body which claimed to be Muller but as you quickly realize in Pathways the dead are quite liberal with the truth!

The Muller Conspiracy

Where did the Alien Pipes come from and what was Muller's real mission at the pyramid? As discussed above the Alien Pipes in Pathways Into Darkness are very similar in appearance to the Alien weapon in Marathon. Coincidence or something more?

The Alien Pipes are needed to open a set of locked doors on the first level (Ground Floor) giving access to the levels below the pyramid. You can find the pipes on the highest level of the pyramid (Ascension).

When you return to the first level and play the pipes while standing on a blue rune the doors open. Couldn't be easier... err... unless of course you ask yourself where did these 'so-called' Alien Pipes come from? Well if you ask the dead German on the first level he provides a clue:

What did Muller's musical instrument look like?

Sound like bagpipes.. but I digress. So are the Aliens Pipes we find on Ascension the same ones that Muller brought with him from Germany? The descriptions are similar and they both have the same function. Yet how did Muller get through the locked doors on the Ground Floor when the Alien Pipes were left on Ascension? Muller's team turned back after reaching Ascension realising that they had been going the wrong way. He lost seven men in the process. On returning to the ground floor he would have needed the pipes he brought from Germany to open the doors. As no German returned from beneath the pyramid how did the Alien Pipes end up on Ascension? Were there two sets of pipes - one on Ascension and the other one brought by Muller from Germany?

And where did Muller get the pipes in the first place and who told him he needed to take them to the pyramid?

The Jjaro?

The alien projection appeared in the early Spring of 1938, flickering suddenly into existence deep within the Reichstag in Berlin. The hologram of the Jjaro diplomat interrupted, quite deliberately, an important briefing of the Führer by his senior military staff. It told them that in eight days they could rule the world.

Jim Mitchell <> writes:

There are two alien musical instruments to be found. One on Ascension and another is on Muller's body.

Ah right! Never did find the malevolent Muller. ;-)

So Muller brought his set of alien pipes from Germany. Which begs the questions where did the Germans get them in the first place and how did they know they would need them at the pyramid. The Muller conspiracy deepens.

Jim Mitchell <> sends in a screenshot of the alien pipes found on Muller's body. Of course you have to find the elusive Muller first. You'll note that the pipes are exactly the same as the ones you pick up on Ascension. The only difference being is that Muller brought his from Germany. But who gave the Germans the alien pipes?

Nathan Kingston <> points out that in Marathon it only takes a few pistol shots to kill the alien leader on "Pfhoraphobia" once you get to him. In Pathways Into Darkness the sleeping God is also easily killed on "Ok, Who Else Wants Some" once you kill everything else. Coincidence? Could there be a connection?

While the debate about 'ducking' in Marathon rages on it should be remembered that it was possible to duck in Pathways Into Darkness... or so it seems. Macworld Game Hall of Fame editor Steven Levy claimed he could duck in Pathways. Indeed he made the point that the key to getting though Pathways Into Darkness was ducking. When Pathways Into Darkness won the 1993 Macworld Game Hall of Fame "Best Role-Playing Game" category Steven Levy wrote:

When these monsters come at you, they aren't simple line drawings, but something that might have come from a brainmerge of Tim Burton, Anne Rice, and Hieronymous Bosch. And when they throw fireballs or poison bones at you, you'd better duck. Yes, the key to getting through Pathways Into Darkness is ducking, and until you get the hang of it, you will die a thousand deaths.
       That trick aside, the game play is as smooth as the graphics...

Very true words indeed. Pathways Into Darkness is hard... very hard... and you will die a thousand times and a thousand times more until you master the 'ducking' trick.

Unfortunately few people seem to be aware of this... afterall it was such a long time ago... wasn't it?

A full scan of the Steven Levy's 1993 Macworld Game Hall of Fame review of Pathways Into Darkness can be found here (311K). Thanks to Todd Bangerter <> for the scan.

Santiago Pereson <> points out that a number of the dead in Pathways Into Darkness use the famous Marathon Bob phrase "They're Everywhere!". Santiago sent in two examples:

Watch out, they're everywhere.

(said by Hans, dead german soldier, on 'They may be slow...')

Watch out for specters, they're everywhere.

(said by an unknown dead german soldier, on '...but they're hungry')

Yes indeed the phrase is everywhere in Pathways! For example:

Greg on "Watch Your Step" says the phrase twice:

Spiders. They're everywhere. Can't stand 'em.

and also

Ninjas, too. They're everywhere.

And it is also used by a number of other dead individuals but you have to look hard to find them. :-)

Another Pathways/Marathon submission by the Dead! Are they trying to tell us something?

Nikolas Manak <> draws our attention again to the similarity between the Alien Pipes text (see above):

This bizarre musical instrument reminds you vaguely of a book you once read while you were a child. You can't quite place it.

and the Marathon Manual text:

Oddly, this is familiar to you, as if it were from an old dream, but you can't exactly remember...

and goes on to say:

Well, I know we've all come to the conclusion that the player is the 10th of the ten Military Mjolnir Mark IV Cyborgs. And that these were battleroids... which were resurrected, reconstructed bodies of dead soldiers...

Now, there's nothing that says where or when these 10 men died in the first place, and my idea is that perhaps, the guy you play in Marathon is actually the reanimated battleroid version of our friend, the player, Sergeant Eddings, in Pathways Into Darkness.

My reason for this is, when you pull out your gun, punch the button to open up the door that leads to the Marathon, this reminds you of an old dream. There are two possibilities here which both suggest the player in Marathon is the reanimated Sgt. Eddings:

It reminds us of an old dream when we open the door, alone, and heading into certain danger because this is like... when we came into the pyramid under the same conditions, perhaps?

And/or when we pull out our gun right before heading into this certain danger alone, a single .45 Magnum Mega Class, maybe this reminds us of... entering the pyramid with a single Colt .45? Hmm...

True we enter the pyramid with a Colt .45 although the magazine is mysteriously empty. Talk about being prepared. ;-)

But let us not forget that prior to this we survive a botched parachute drop from a Special Forces C-151. A fall which bends the muzzle of our M-16 rendering it useless yet we walk away unhurt. A fall which none of our seven Special Forces buddies believed we could survive:

"Hey man, we all thought you were dead!"

"We gave you up for dead after the drop."

"Wow, we all thought you were dead."

"Hey, welcome back from the dead."

Not only do we survive the fall but we enter the pyramid and complete a mission that our seven better equipped buddies couldn't complete.

Just who the hell are we?

One person knew or at least thought he knew. On "Welcome Tasty Primate" we meet a dead German. When you try to talk with this guy you quickly realise that he's not the full shilling. He nevertheless leaves us with a rather bizarre puzzle.


Names are unimportant, but I know yours. I'll never tell him, don't worry. I know better.


You know. I can't say. He who rises with the tides, master of all things small and insignificant.
Not the tides, fool! Don't you understand?

Michael Dawe <> points out that there are a number of references to "tides" in Marathon. Examples include:

She fled to the farthest reach, leaving the
sacred marsh dry from the falling tides.

And the Marathon Infinity scenario itself which is called "Blood Tides of Lh'owon"

And then there are Gheritt White's waves:

He could feel the roughness of the sand under his palms, for all the motion of the waves around him, his hands had come to rest serenely upon the ocean floor...

He escaped into the waves.

The waves.

And let's not forget the primordial waves:

In primordial space, timeless creatures
made waves. These waves created us and the
others. Waves were the battles, and the
battles were waves.

Matthew Payne <> writes:

In Pathways there's a dead guy (Gunther) that says these things...
You handle that P4 well, for a foreigner.
It's horrible, being conscious but deprived of
nearly all your senses like this. I wonder
how long it will last...

and also Behrens:

You scared me, I thought you were one of
those big rock-throwing monsters.
They still bother me, even now.

So the dead can still see in Pathways, even other than you. And then in Marathon, it's the same way. Not only can you see when you're dead, but...

a. your motion sensor still works and
b. aliens continue to attack you as if you were alive.

Aaron Davies <> writes:

While rooting through Pathways in ResEdit, I noticed string 12 from STR# 1003: "Seven men in overcoats jump from the shadows and carry you away. You are never heard from again." Aside from the seven, this sounds quite a bit like the strange story of the Thoth (Infinity) terminals, where the narrator keeps talking about the men in suits chasing him.

Interesting stuff. One wonders if they were wearing suits underneath! ;-)

The Pathways text:

Seven men in overcoats jump from the shadows and carry you away. You are never heard from again.

is one of two death dialogs that never appear while you play the game (can you name the other?). The "seven men" one is apparently associated with the sentinel (colloquially known as the Skinny Buddha Dude), see below.

If you ever manage to meet up with these guys on the lower levels of the pyramid you'll find them quite odd. They don't move but rather block your progess down a corridor by creating a force field of sorts. The force field does no harm even though it flashes and makes a noise when you touch it. The fact that there is a death dialog associated with the Sentinel might suggest that at one stage in the game's development the force field did cause damage.

The true nature of sentinel is best left to the esotric pages of the Awfully Awesome Pathways Into Darkness Page.

Aaron Davies <> writes concerning the resource fork in Pathways:

Another peculiarity: DITL 2017 says "Please name your player and choose their sex and handedness. Then click "Done"." It has buttons for left, right, male, and female.

How odd. Here is the unused dialog in question.

Was it the case that the player could also have been a female character at some point in time?

Aaron continues.

Also, DITL 5000 has a box to enter a script number to test. Is this a leftover from debugging the program, or is a terminal browser like the mysterious one in Marathon 1?

More generally: I noticed that there are quite a few empty resource slots in the string resources, and several duplicates as well. Could this be the result of the many plot changes mentioned in the IMG interview?

Random observations: why is the creator type of Pathways "påth", not "path"? Bungie being weird or does it mean something? And why is the shapes file distinguished by an ankh (Egyptian staff symbol)? Is it a joke on the pyramid?

Some odd stuff here. The Shapes file does look like it has an Ankh behind the pyramid.

The Ankh is the Ancient Symbol of Life. The pyramid in Pathways is described as neither Aztec nor Mayan even though it was located on the Yucatan Peninsula. The Ankh symbol would suggest an Egyptian connection. The question is who built the pyramid? Or was it a manifestation of the dreaming God below?

Michael Park <> writes:

Aaron Davies recently wrote about several odd dialog boxes.

One, he mentions an odd dialog box in which you get to choose a name, the character's gender, and a Left or Right "handedness". Doesn't this sound a bit like the options for the network game in the Marathon Trilogy? You get to choose your player name, what color team (M2/MInf only) and what player color you were.

The script number editor I think was Bungie's editor that allowed them to edit what the Dead say. Bungie probably used the "påth" creator because they might have found some other program that used such a creator type. If Bungie was to make a "path" creator type instead (it sounds a bit too common, don't you think?), it might have conflicted with a lot of programs.

Well, if anyone (mostly a new or non PiD player) takes a first glance at a pyramid, I am thinking that one of the first things they connect a pyramid with is the Ankh. Or it could be that someone else at Bungie created the icons for PiD, not knowing about the game's storyline.

Interesting ideas.

Aaron Davies <> makes another interesting find in the Pathways resource fork:

I also found a string about a player being too old for the current version of Pathways.

Here's the correct info: STR# 128, string 13: "Sorry, that player is out of date and can't be used with this version of Pathways Into Darkness." This would seem to refer back to the dialog box I mentioned where you choose the sex and handedness of a "player." Could this mean Pathways was supposed to support net play at one point? Or maybe it just means old saved games don't work with Pathways 1.2.

Was a networking option ever envisioned in Pathways Into Darkness? The only person to know for sure is Jason Jones.

Aaron Davies <> writes concerning 2 further pieces of text from the Pathways resource fork that don't appear to feature in the game.

Speaking of the gem, does this mean anything to you?

STR# 1002, string 16: "It appears that the Alien Gemstone would fit perfectly in the pedastal. Do you want to place it there?"

This text would appear to indicate that the Alien Gemstone had some alternate function in an earlier version of the story. Gemstones and pedestals smacks of Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark!

Aaron continues:

Also, do you remember a gold mask in the treasure you can gather along the way? (STR# 1001, string 45)? I don't, and it seems you can put it on.

The text string that Aaron refers to is as follows:

This ornate gold mask depicts a vaguely human face in great pain.

Double-click on the mask to put it on or take it off.

I've never come across a Gold Mask in the game and none of the currently available Spoiler Guides make any reference to it. Thus it was either removed from the final release but the text string left in or it's located in a place that nobody has found yet.

How likely is the latter? Probably unlikely but it's interesting to note that the official Pathways Into Darkness Hints Book (written principally by Dan Meltz for Bungie) doesn't contain every secret presently known in the game. Nor do the 3rd party Spoiler Guides cover everything indeed they are actually less comprehensive than the official Hints Book. If no guide is complete it begs the question "Do other secrets exist?" Finding secrets in Pathways Into Darkness is made difficult by the lack of a map editor. Thus you have to find them hard way... the true way! :-)

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Page maintained by Hamish Sinclair
Last updated Jan 20, 1999