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Pathways into Darkness is a first-person adventure game for the Mac by Bungie (of Halo fame) that casts the player as a member of a U.S. Army Special Forces team on a mission to prevent an ancient godlike being from awakening in eight days and destroying the Earth. The team must enter a pyramid on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, reach the bottom level and detonate a nuke to stun the Dreaming God within, giving the Jjaro, a benevolent alien race, the time it needs to take more permanent measures to neutralize the threat.

However, during the team's deployment, the player character's chute fails to open, and the resultant impact knocks him out and scatters his equipment. When he comes to, he discovers that he is believed dead, and his team has entered the pyramid without him. Alone, and armed only with a flashlight and a survival knife, he must battle his way through the monster-inhabited pyramid, making his way down to the bottom to complete his team's mission.

Pathways into Darkness is notable for being the first texture-mapped game on the Apple Macintosh, as well as being considered the first true First-Person Shooter released on that platform. It was critically acclaimed, winning a large number of awards, and was Bungie's first major commercial success (it was the third-best-selling Mac game of the first half of 1994, after Myst and SimCity 2000).

Tropes used in Pathways into Darkness include:
  • And I Must Scream: Death in the Pathways/Marathon verse is this. As the Nazis, explorers, and your fellow marines will tell you, when you die you are stuck in your body with very few of your senses left.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Used for much of the storytelling, with a special twist.
  • Armless Biped: The Headless. They consist of a gaping fanged mouth at about torso-level with a giant tongue waving around in the air, they bend over to vomit green brains at you.
  • Compound Title: Level "They May Be Slow…" is followed by "…But They're Hungry."
  • Demonic Spiders: Skitters, the near-literal spiders, especially their venomous variation, and Greater Nightmares, who shoot homing plasma balls and can only be damaged with certain ammunition.
  • Deus Ex Nukina: Which leads to…
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The objective of the special forces team is to detonate a low-yield nuclear device on an Eldritch Abomination. Though to be fair, said device will not kill the abomination, just knock it out and bury it, buying Earth crucial time.
  • Drought Level of Doom: Most of the game, forcing you to use your knife to take down the weaker enemies.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Dreaming God.
  • ~Everybody's Dead Dave~: See how much you miss when your chute fails?
  • First-Person Shooter: The first from Bungie.
  • Ghostapo: The player finds numerous skeletal corpses of a Nazi expedition to the pyramid back during World War Two in order to recover the Dreaming God for use as a weapon, or other valuable and/or supernatural artifacts as a consolation prize. They provide an important source of exposition, as well the most frequent source of arms and ammunition.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: The Dreaming God is in a sleeping state (referred to in the manual as being the closest state to death such beings are capable of.) However, it is soon to wake…
  • Guide Dang It: The teleporter maze, among other things.
  • Have a Nice Death
  • ~I'm Cold... So Cold...~: One of the dead Nazis you encounter has forgotten everything except that death is cold.
  • Infinite Flashlight: Bad news: You have five days to complete your mission before The End of the World as We Know It. Good news: Your flashlight's battery lasts a week. By the time it runs dry, it won't be necessary anymore… one way or the other. Unless you cheat to get more time.
  • Invisible Monsters: The Wraiths can only be seen with the infra-red goggles. Conversely, the sole level where they are encountered contains a lone Banshee, which you have to take the goggles off to see.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: Banshees can only be destroyed with magic crystals; the Green Oozes and Malice (aka the Giant Purple Hellbeast) are completely invincible and must be avoided.
  • Late to the Party: We hope you enjoyed your nap, because you won't be sleeping for a while…
  • Locked in a Freezer: On the level "I'd Rather Be Surfing", A corpse posing as Schmuck Bait in a room with an open door and a closed door. When you enter the room, the open door closes behind you, normally not a problem, except the closed door in front does not open. The game console emits "Uh oh.". The corpse casually informs you that he was in the room until he suffocated and that the doors did not open until afterwards, and mentions that a group entered many years ago and one of them walked through the other door. Don the red cloak, which speeds the passage of time by slowing your metabolism. Sleeping further speeds up the game. Making more ammo during this time is optional since it will be obsolete soon.
  • Multiple Endings: Seven of them.
  • Nazis With Gnarly Weapons: Most of the weapons and ammunition that the player ends up using for a large part of the game is recovered from the corpses of German soldiers sent to the pyramid during World War Two. The weapons are in surprisingly functional condition considering they have been lying in the tunnels for decades.
  • Night Vision Goggles: Useful for finding invisible monsters and avoiding nasty rodents that are attracted to your flashlight.
  • Nintendo Hard: And unlike Bungie's later games, this one does not have difficulty levels.
  • Not as You Know Them: There are hints that the protagonist is also the protagonist in Marathon, having been brought back as a battleroid cyborg, and, later, given Jjaro implants.
  • Press X to Die: Setting the nuclear device the team is carrying to detonate prior to the player being able to reach a safe distance, setting the nuke off without carrying the rescue beacon to summon the helicopter (Although you can survive if you have enough time to get away from the blast radius on foot before it explodes), setting the nuke to explode after the day the Eldritch Abomination awakens, or just oversleeping the game can result in a game over.
  • Punctuation Shaker: The W'rkncacnter.
  • Spiritual Successor: Marathon is either this or a sequel to this game.
    • Marathon and Pathways do take place in the same universe, there is even a terminal in the first Marathon game (which is a historical record) that talks about the events of Pathways.
    • It also shares many plot elements with Halo 3: ODST. In both you are an elite special forces operative who gets separated from his squad and must learn about what happened to your unit by interacting with inanimate objects/corpses. In addition both have to travel underground in order to secure an omniscient presence that has been affecting the world above.