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Review – The Path (PC)

Tale of Tales | March 18th, 2009

Ok, so I did a review a while back of The Graveyard, also by Tale of Tales.  If the graveyard is essentially a pointless tech demo, The Path is the final product.  The Path takes the story of Little red Riding Hood and creeps it out into a spooky horror story.  You must navigate each of 6 sisters through the woods to meet with Grandmother at her house.  The only instructions you get from the game are to “Stay on the Path”.  The path is just that, a path running through the forest from your starting location to grandmothers home.  It is straight and empty.  You can very much simply stay on the path The Graveyard style and walk “up” to grandmother’s house.

The fun and real point comes when you leave the path.  For in the forest is where the wolves lurk.

The problem is that the wolves are more or less all metaphorical.  I have read several other reviews and analysis of this plot that for the most part, each of the girls goes through some sort of ravaging or rape, which is metaphorical for the wolves of the forest.  There is no sex in this game mind you, anything sexual is merely implied and any point where it would occur, the screen simply fades out.  Each of the girls has a special location in the forest which will trigger some sort of event.  For example, one girl will encounter a man camping in the forest.  Another encounters some sort of spirits in the middle of a lake.  These encounters essentially all end badly” and your character will wape up in front of Grandmother’s House battered and wounded.  Once entering Grandmother’s House you are treated to a bunch of random “creepy stuff” in an on rails FPS perspective.  Depending on items collected and events passed you will get added bonus rooms to this end sequence.

After completing the trip with a girl you return to the start and get to repeat the trip with another girl.

I get the point of the game.  There’s sub tones of keeping yourself on the straight path and obeying and not trusting strangers in the woods.  On the other hand, you get zero points for staying on the path and going to Grandmother’s home.  I do somewhat appreciate the intrinsic artistic metaphor of it all to a point. 

The issues on the concept almost all lie in the presentation.  The biggest flaw is the plodding pace that the girls travel.  It’s pretty much as slow as the grandmother in The Graveyard.  There is a run option when you hold shift but irritatingly, as you run, the screen shifts to a more top down angle which obscures your perspective and makes it difficult to see where you’re going.  I’m sure this was done to enhance the metaphor of running blindly into danger or some bull shit but there is only so much crap you can throw at a person before the experience gets ruined.

There are also other issues such as unclear direction for where to go.  You can unlock a map but by the time you’ve collected enough flowers to do so, you’re likely going to have completed the game and who cares.  Navigating blindly and being “lost” is kind of fun for the first girl or two but eventually the player will get the point and want to just push what little plot there is onward.

Which brings up another issue.  The plot is pretty vague.  Once again, there is only so much that Artsy can fill before the person playing, or more accurately, in this case, viewing, will take before they want some sort of explanation.  The biggest oddity is the Forrest girl which wanders around near the player the whole game.  There isn’t much explanation as to who she is, there are implications that she is the Grandmother, or that she is the forest spirit or that she is the “real wolf”.  Who knows, who cares.

I will say one thing for this game, it goes on sale occasionally.  While I personally don’t feel it’s worth bothering with at it’s $10 regular price point, it’s probably an ok play if you want an interesting artsy game for a couple of bucks when it’s on sale.

The Path can be found here on Steam.

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