Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Path - PC Review

Developer - Tale of Tales
Publisher - Tale of Tales
Genre - Undefined
Platforms - PC
Score: 9/10

When I announce to someone I’ve recently met that I study and design video games I quite often get puzzled looks. ‘Really?’ they say. ‘You’re devoting your whole life to games? Errr… Why?’ It is at this point I take a breath, ready myself and begin my rant. I’m pretty proud of this rant; it can go on for quite some time and I’ve put a lot of work into it. It includes everything from Aristotle’s Catharsis theory to psychological theories of escapism and its importance. I deliver this rant with all the passion I have in my body. By the grand finale I’m puffing and sweating at the brow. I look up, awaiting the response to my perfected monologue. ‘But in the end, it’s just a game isn’t it? I mean, has there ever been a meaningful game?’

It is this question that always shuts me up. I stumble and stammer whilst I desperately search for my perfect example. I suggest that Super Mario Bros was actually a social commentary exploring the detrimental effects of illegal substances. That doesn’t work. I suggest Tetris was actually a socio-political demonstration of the self-destructive nature of capitalism. No luck there either. I point out Dominic’s moving love story in Gears of War 2. I’m met with laughter. No matter how hard I try, I can’t tell them of a truly artistic, meaningful game. That is, until now!

Believe me when I say The Path will be unlike anything you have ever played before. That I can guarantee. It flips and reverses the way you have become used to experiencing interactive media for so long. The Path is essentially an interactive re-telling of the famous Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. Using the template and themes of the story it shows the player that the path to womanhood can be experienced in very different ways depending on the woman herself. At the beginning of the game you are met with a room of six very different sisters named in the vein of something red. You must choose between Scarlet, Rose, Ruby, Ginger, Carmen or Robin to begin their journey. For an independently developed game the visuals in The Path are very evocative, especially the on-screen art around the edges of your view which constantly shifts. Once you have chosen a sister you are set on your path with only two instructions: visit your sick grandmother and don’t stray from the path! The first time I played through I couldn’t help but notice various movements and glows of light in the edges of the forest, but I continued on. I arrived at grandmother’s house, safe and sound. However, at the end, I was told I failed and received no score! This confused me immensely! When I thought about it, I realized the designer was trying to tell me something. The path to womanhood is never straight forward and without conflict. I realized I had to disobey my instructions and take these sisters through the forest so they could mature into adults before arriving at grandmother’s house. What lies within the forest is completely unique to each sister, but the last thing I want to do is spoil this incredibly moving and (for me at least) educating experience. Each sister must face their wolf and most do not change for the better.
If you believe you are someone who appreciates artistic expression, whether it be through canvas, film, music or literature, do yourself a favor and purchase this game. It may well be the game that changes your view on video games forever. Hopefully, one day, I’ll never have to answer the ignorant question ‘But it’s just a game isn’t?’ again!


  1. That's so rude. People shouldn't put you down for wanting to design games. who can blame someone for wanting to make people's lives more enjoyable? stay true to your dreams, and ignore these assholes.

  2. Your review of The Path was intriguing. I always thought video games were another boring expression of stunted testosterone fuelled macho-chauvanism - Little boys playing with big guns....but this one sounds like something us girls might want to play too. It depends what lies off that path in the forest!

  3. Ah you've most definitely piqued my interest in this game that much more. I recently purchased it but have yet to actually download it and take the plunge.

    One thing I would suggest about the review is going into slightly more detail about the mechanics of the gameplay and graphical style.

    Either way it was a pretty good review and good luck on the games designing.

  4. Hey there guys, thanks for the comments. Vervain I do hope you get around to playing it! Yeh, I shoulda gone into more detail about the style, too late now. The gameplay mechanics were hardly worth a mention as there are hardly any! You merely use the arrows to walk and experience the game. Thanks again guys

  5. Silly question... Is it scary?

  6. Nope, but it can be disturbing in a subtle manner. Depends how much you read into what you see.