The Path

Little Red Riding Hood is a tale that's been buried beneath saccharine layers of denial over time, but the original fairy tale was dark and grisly. At it's core it's a story about a little girl who gets eaten by a wolf. If you'd forgotten about the brutality and despair of the tale, don't worry. The Path reminds you in short order.

It's a beautiful, innocent game with suffocating fear lurking underneath every surface. Screenshots and descriptions do not do this game justice; you really have to see it in motion to appreciate the atmosphere the artistic style brings to the table. Screen filters cover the game screen with mysterious markings like an old photograph that's cracked and aged with time. Running along the path to Grandma's house is serene, but disturbing. The innocent and haunting music keeps you constantly on edge, but off the path, it gets even worse. Of course, you're not supposed to stray from The Path …

The game amazingly subverts gameplay traditions, twisting the typical staples to keep you afraid of what's in the woods, yet insanely curious. To say anything more would cheapen it. It's not the most complicated and bulletpoint-featured game out there, but its mysterious nature makes it one hell of an experience.

If you're at all curious by now, just play it. It's $10 on Steam. Skip the McDonalds a couple of times and treat yourself to a gem. Just don't expect to get a good night's sleep afterwards.

Why You Should Check This Out: Mysterious, brutal and beautiful, this game tells a childhood story so dark it truly delivers the original spirit of the fairy tales, in all its grisly glory. It's a wonderful experience, full of the thrill of the unknown and the fear of the dark recesses that exist off the beaten path. If David Lynch made videogames, he'd start with something like The Path.

[size=20]Buy Now[/size]
[size=18] (Steam)[/size]

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Dysplastic wrote:

I just want to post that while I agree with most of the above, there were definitely points in my first hour of play where I was getting pretty frustrated, something which isn't really mentioned in any of the write-ups I've seen of the game. There were a couple of mechanics which are pretty vital for a "successful" completion of at least one of the character's stories (I've only played with Carmen), which were not well elaborated on. I only mention it because people might be expecting an easier difficulty level from an art-house game - I certainly was - and might get frustrated when they get stuck and lost in the woods.

Okay spoiler time

spoiler wrote:

[color=white]Really, I thought not telling you the point of the game beforehand was a great reveal. I was not at all frustrated with any of the mechanics and I "beat" it with two different characters. My only problem was the occasional really, really slow walk after you met the wolf, I understood the purpose of it but I thought it was just a little too slow. I'd like to hear some specifics in spoiler text if you don't mind elaborating. I haven't really talked to anybody else that has played it. Maybe I didn't run into the particular problem you were facing[/color]

I just want to post that while I agree with most of the above, there were definitely points in my first hour of play where I was getting pretty frustrated, something which isn't really mentioned in any of the write-ups I've seen of the game. There were a couple of mechanics which are pretty vital for a "successful" completion of at least one of the character's stories (I've only played with Carmen), which were not well elaborated on. I only mention it because people might be expecting an easier difficulty level from an art-house game - I certainly was - and might get frustrated when they get stuck and lost in the woods.

I still think this game is mixing "gamey" and "arty" in the wrong ways - there is a wierd map mechanic that is trying to "subvert gameplay traditions" but just winds up being annoying and unnecessary, and brings out feelings of rote frustration rather than any real sense of being "lost". The other mechanic I mentioned that I needed to do to get unstuck was also "subversive", but also counter-intuitive. I only hope that now that I've figured these out with one character, the rest of them will play along.

Spoilers here on what I needed to do to get 'un-lost' and 'un-stuck'

Possible Spoilers wrote:

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Basically, you need to do nothing. There was one key area with a lumberjack that I could tell was vital - he was the only other person in the forest (apart from the girl in white), and the music changed in the area. But my interactions did nothing. Ultimately, I just had to WAIT by the fire and do nothing, and the game proceeded. I guess that's subversive, but I was unimpressed.

Also, if you wait in the forest and do nothing long enough, the little white girl will grab you by the hand and lead you back to the path. Again, waiting and doing nothing leads to success - but there's no indication that this will happen.

Anyways, I just found these things annoying.

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Pyroman - see the spoilers I wrote above. I think a lot of it has to do with the character I chose - Rob indicated in the other thread that he also had problems with Carmen, and I've seen some people on the main boards at Tale of Tales get stuck on her too.

As for the map;

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I don't see the point of it fading in and out so infrequently - it just adds an artificial layer of difficulty in finding the objects and your way around. I'm supposed to explore the game and experience the content in an immersive way, not be wandering around places I've already been trying to find more stuff. I feel like the map mechanic is just artificially lengthening your stay in the forest for no real reason, and a more detailed, more accessible map would have made the experience of exploring the forest better.

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Fringe busters is a great new article series, just wish I had time to play them all.

You've sold me. This one dropped off my radar for a while, but it sounds good, and I don't mind getting stuck.

Hey, I know these guys (well actually they're a couple). For one they're Belgians, and as we all know there's only five or six of us so I HAVE to know them

Seriously though, I saw them on a conference on game design & storytelling. They were quite frustrated at the time with the game industry for not getting funds for their pet project (something in the vein of Ico back then). Although they came off as quite pretentious, I'm glad they found their way in the indie scene. I'll be checking this out for sure!

Actually the original RRH was a metaphoric cautionary tale about not having sex and/or trusting strange men. This game seems to have taken that metaphor and made it a bit more explicit. What with the "sweetest tongues" and all.

That looks really cool, great find Pyro, I think I'll check this one out. Anything Lynchian is cool in my books

Brennil wrote:

Actually the original RRH was a metaphoric cautionary tale about not having sex and/or trusting strange men. This game seems to have taken that metaphor and made it a bit more explicit. What with the "sweetest tongues" and all.

I'd say, significantly more explicit - not in terms of anything graphic, but more in terms of the consequences.

I picked it up last night after reading a few comments in the GWJ thread. Only about a half hour of play in, but it certainly seems to tap into that sense of primal horror I haven't felt from a game since Penumbra.

I had no frustrating moments so far... played through with two characters and got almost lost in the woods forever... it is all about the experience, the music, the atmosphere, not so much about gameplay. (there is no run and jump and shooting or puzzle solving... I think this game could be played by any person), of coure you have to open your eyes and your mind, and do not rush through the game thinking: I have to do this and this, no, just feel the mood.... great game!

cheers,

Thanks for the heads up.

I want to go to there.

I think I disagree with your comments on the map pretty strongly Dysplastic.

spoiler wrote:

[color=white]The whole point of the map showing up sporadically on scren was not to occasionally let you find your way, it was to illustrate to you that you were lost. If you get really lost good, like I did on my playthrough with Robin, the lines don't even intersect. You're just following a few of them randomly around the map, they disappear and reappear all over the place. The game is about what happens when you get lost, both physically and as a metaphor for life, and having a detailed map with recognizable landmarks that pops up when you hit a certain button would just completely destroy that. Hell, I'm not even sure that on subsequent playthroughs with different characters that the map is even the same. I kinda thought it was randomized.[/color]

I pretty much love and hate this game with equal measure. It will for sure inform an article idea though, and a podcast discussion or two.

on my first playthrough I tried to stay on the path, but I got distracted somehow. I went off the path just for a few minutes, and I wanted to go back as soon as I finished the distraction, but then there was another distraction, and another one. then, finally I was heading back, but I could not find the path anymore.... I was totally lost. then other things happened, and at a point I did find the path again, and I was so reliefed!! that was an amazing experience... because otherwise, it is just a boring path...

My first playthrough I did exactly as I was told and I stayed on the path. It was slightly disturbing, but ultimately boring.

Then I went crazy and never tried to get back on the path. Bad things happened.

The trick is, I didn't really "win" either way. Which is why I'm enjoying and dreading this game all at the same time.

There are no fetch quests. The item collection is apparently meant to be ironic, though it's poorly conveyed in the game.

Podunk wrote:

There are no fetch quests. The item collection is apparently meant to be ironic, though it's poorly conveyed in the game.

I thought the item collection affected the ending.

PyromanFO wrote:

I think I disagree with your comments on the map pretty strongly Dysplastic.

And I disagree pretty strongly with your impressions of what the game is about, or at least what it presents itself as being about. En garde!

spoiler wrote:

[color=white]You say that the game is about what happens when I get lost, both physically and as a metaphor for life. At what point when I get lost, either physically or as a metaphor for life, do I wander around collecting flowers and random items from around the forest, ultimately trying to "meet my wolf" and have something bad happen! If it was a metaphor for getting lost, then bad stuff would happen regardless of what I did. In my case, I had to actively figure out how to make something bad happen, which didn't mesh with the entire concept. If they want to make a game with a map that is more symbolic than anything and is about the experience of being lost, that's fine - but then make it a game about being lost, not about wandering endlessly around a forest collecting items and going over your path again until you figure out what it is you have to do to make the story continue. By the end of my hour, I wasn't lost anymore, I just didn't know what to do next - so it failed on that level too. It's all connected to the huge schism between the message, atmosphere and feelings they're trying to convey - which I love - and the actual gameplay mechanics of what they are making you do - which make absolutely no sense to me.
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Pyroman wrote:

People are starting it up and getting frustrated that there isn't a map and a list of objectives to complete. I look at it and think "Of course there's no bulletpointed list spelling out what you're supposed to do, the game is about getting lost."

spoiler wrote:

[color=white]But there IS a list of objectives to complete. I followed the path the first time, and at the end in Grandma's house it said "Items collected: 0/11. Rooms Unlocked: 0/3. Wof met: no. Failure!" or something along those lines. When it's telling me this, on my second time around, this list of objectives is right there in my mind. If it's a game about getting lost, why is it telling me to do all this stuff while I'm lost so that I "succeed?" I'd be much happier if there were NO list of objectives and NO map, because it would fit much better into the tone the game is conveying.[/color]

I think I'm being harsher on this game than I actually feel - I usually am that way with games that I like but I feel could have been much better, whereas games that I really don't like I'll usually ignore. I'll have to wait to a playthrough with a second character to tell - it might honestly have just been my experience with Carmen that made it sour.

As a side note, once in a while you'll hear an audible gasp or sigh, but then I look around and don't see anything. What are those connected to?

Dysplastic wrote:
Podunk wrote:

There are no fetch quests. The item collection is apparently meant to be ironic, though it's poorly conveyed in the game.

I thought the item collection affected the ending.

You only played one character, so I really don't think you're seeing what I'm seeing

spoilers wrote:

[color=white]I'm seeing a game that wants me to lead 6 little girls off the path, into the woods, let them explore and eventually force them all to find their wolf which leads to their death. The items and map play into this, you have to go looking for these "items", whatever they are, and then you ultimately get lost. You can get back on the path with the help of the girl in white, which you do not have to stand still to find. But ultimately, all the exploration is considered a failure if you did not meet the "wolf" and "die" or whatever bad happens to these girls. It's messing with you. You're seeing the goals as the point of the game. The game is skewering that expectation. The point of the game is the experience, the "bits" to collect and "secret rooms" to unlock are ultimately meaningless, except to experience them. You're not going to get a high score for them. In fact, in order to "win", you have to kill 6 innocent girls. It's terrible. It's that feeling from Shadow of the Colossus when you know the game is making you do something terrible to further the story.

That said, I haven't gotten all of them yet because I'm a big pansy and need to play this game in broad daylight. Maybe something happens when you do get them all, but honestly I'd be disappointed if it did. 144 flowers to collect? Cmon. It's ridiculous.[/color]

dejanzie wrote:

Hey, I know these guys (well actually they're a couple). For one they're Belgians, and as we all know there's only five or six of us so I HAVE to know them ;)

Well shoot, then, I probably went to high school with one of the developers! Oh, how are the guys in Front 242, by the way?

It's hard to think of the Big Bad Wolf as the Big Bad Wolf and not as Bigby.

I haven't looked at any of the spoiler text between Pyroman and Dysplastic, but anything that's generated this much discussion is going to get my money (when I have some).

And hey, I have a cute little crush on David Lynch's work, so I'm all in for that aspect, too.

PyromanFO wrote:

You only played one character, so I really don't think you're seeing what I'm seeing

Agreed - but again, I only got to play with one character because I got stuck on the one character I played. Play with Carmen and tell me if you think that her "wolf encounter" made sense, gameplay wise.

spoilers wrote:

[color=white]I'm not sure at all what you're saying here. You're saying that the point of the game is the experience. I agree. But then you say that the bits and rooms are ultimately meaningless, other than to experience them. But if the point of the game is the experience, and you get new experiences by collecting items, doesn't the collection of items become part of the point of the game?

Oh, and the girl in white only led me back to the path once in the hour I was in the forest, and only when I stood still. Apart from that she was always messing around doing something else, or not there. But maybe I was just playing it wrong.
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By the way, I am loving this discussion. This game is definitely bringing about strong feelings, and making me think about the way I play. I still think it has conceptual problems, but I plan on continuing to play and think about it more.
I also am a huge pansy and got creeped out playing it at night, so it will probably be a daylight game for me from here on out too. Look, we are sharing a common experience!

McChuck wrote:

It's hard to think of the Big Bad Wolf as the Big Bad Wolf and not as Bigby.

Fables ftw.

spoiler wrote:

[color=white]The girl in white will lead you back to the path if you walk up to her and use the action button.

What I mean by the items is that they're being used as an impetus to explore. I do not think if you get all the items you get the "good" ending just by the sheer ridiculous number of them. 144 flowers that take almost 10 seconds to collect each one do not make me think they expect you to collect them all. Instead, it's a "oh look shiny flower, I'll go get it" and it draws you further and further into the woods. Same thing with secret rooms, they're just there to get you to try and pay attention to Grandma's house. I don't think it's really possible to find all the special rooms in a single run through the house.

My point is the numbers are shown to you at the end to point out that they're there, since they don't tell you beforehand. They're there, go find them. It doesn't matter whether or not you actually succeed, as long as you explore.

I haven't played Carmen yet, I'll try to get to her and see how I feel about that. I played through as Rose, Robin and Ruby. I only got the wolf for Robin and Ruby though.[/color]

I'm a big explorer as far as my game player type is concerned, so maybe that's why this game attracts me so much. I could see how this drives completionists completely insane.

PyromanFO wrote:

I'm a big explorer as far as my game player type is concerned, so maybe that's why this game attracts me so much. I could see how this drives completionists completely insane.

I see what you're saying. I'd call myself an explorer/completionist, in that I like to explore everything, and efficiently. I guess part of what drove my frustration with the map/gameplay etc. was that I kept wandering back to places I'd already been as opposed to exploring new things, and was hoping that the game would help move me forward instead of in circles.

That's a fair criticism, and part of my enjoyment is that I haven't been that worried about finding everything. Possibly because what I have seen so far creeps me the f*ck out

One thing I DID love was the "Run" mechanic - I don't know if this is just with Carmen, but when you hold the button to run, the camera goes from third person to isometric the longer you hold it, the screen goes darker, and your heartbeat starts rushing. You can't see where you're going, and it's scary, so you stop running and take a breath - but now you're disoriented. It's an absolutely brilliant mechanic that conveys exactly what they're trying to do in a simple, elegant solution.

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