08 March 2012

The Path

Gaming Genres: Exploration
Story Genres: Horror, Fantasy, Adult Content
Graphical Styles: 3D, Realism
Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X
Pricing Model: Pay $
Developer(s): Tale of Tales
Publisher(s): Tale of Tales
Initial Release Date: March 18, 2009
Website(s): Homepage, Story Homepage, Alt. Homepage

The Path is a short horror game inspired by older versions of Little Red Ridinghood, set in modern day. The Path offers an atmospheric experience of exploration, discovery and introspection through a unique form of gameplay, designed to immerse you deeply into its dark themes. Every interaction in the game expresses an aspect of the narrative. The six protagonists each have their own age and personality and allow the player to live through the tale in different ways. Most of the story, however, relies on your active imagination.

The Path is designed with accessibility in mind. There are no ticking clocks or monsters to defeat. No hard puzzles will ever halt your progress. Most activities in the game are entirely optional and voluntary. The player has all the freedom in the world to explore and experience. The Path is a Slow Game.

Six sisters live in an apartment in the city. One by one their mother sends them on an errand to their grandmother, who is sick and bedridden. The teenagers are instructed to go to grandmother's house deep in the forest and, by all means, to stay on the path! Wolves are hiding in the woods, just waiting for little girls to stray.

But young women are not exactly known for their obedience, are they? Will they be able to resist the temptations of the forest? Will they stay clear of danger? Can they prevent the ancient tale from being retold?

An art game, loved by some, misunderstood and/or hated by others. I can say with confidence that the gameplay is bad, and I do not think that this is not just an opinion. I don't know if this was the goal of the development team but it is full of stereotypically bad development practices, in fact I do not think that there is a single gameplay element that is not stereotypically bad. You walk around at a moderate pace most of the time, but for extended periods of time in multiple situations you barely crawl forward. The entire gameplay of The Path is about collection, you collect flower and interact minimally with certain objects in the game thereby collecting them. To beat the game you must play through the same world a minimum of five times, with the five different characters. The different girls all collect the same flowers but have individual objects to collect as well and unique wolves to visit.

The wolves really are the main focus of the game; They are how you finish the level with any given girl and represent something bad that is only really hinted at happening to the girl. This is really the entire story aspect of the game. You stray from the path in the woods, find a creepy person to interact with, and some bad stuff is hinted at. The easiest and most straightforward interpretation (the one most people seem to have accepted) is that they are all getting raped and possibly killed by these predatory older men; But that answer does just seem a little to simplistic to me personally. The story is so full of artsy abstraction that it is not a story, it is the inspiration to come up with your own interpretation.

Coming up with a good story is a talent and requires skill and work and offers enjoyment to the readers. Putting together and bunch of imagery and telling someone to come up with their own interpretation does not seem to me to require or offer anything if you do not even give a hint of there actually being anything happening at all. Maybe it is not an abstract, hard to figure out story; Maybe it is a dialogue on the frailty of youth? I just made that up without more then a half second thought, but it actually sounds very plausibly. There are no answers here, it is like a prophecy made so generic and abstract as to fit a dozen events. Behind the confusing arty exterior overflowing with apparent meaning, I see a hollow interior.

The graphics are nice, but not varied enough to make exploring the environment to see more of it worth it.

So that is the game is a nutshell; If there is anything here of worth I cannot see it.

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