Don’t stay on it!
How does one review a game that is not really a game? How can one rate a game that is unlike any other game, and thus has no comparison? Where is my marmite on toast? These are all questions that occurred to me whilst trying to write this review of Indie game, The Path from Tale of Tales.
Like a modern re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood (to which the references are obvious and plentiful) the player is charged with the reasonably simple task of going and visiting grandmother, who happens to live in the deep dark depths of a creepy forest.At least there is a straight, clear path that leads directly to her house…
Players begin by choosing one of six young girls, all of differing ages and personalities. Then the “game” begins. Travel along the path directly to Grandmothers house and you will be greeted with a screen explaining that you have failed. Begin wandering the woods however, and things start to get interesting.
And also where it starts to get difficult to write about. Y’see, The Path is less of a game and more of an experience, and by explaining too much, I am taking away from the experience. Ideally, it would be best to play The Path without having read or heard anything about it. But that would kind of defeat the object of this review, wouldn’t it?
Ok, well, there are some things that I can explain. Wandering the woods will lead the player to find items that need to be collected. These items unlock things for later in the game. Also while wandering the woods, which you were expressly told not to do, each of the different girls will have an encounter. This encounter will be completely unique to each girl and provide the reason for the game being classed as a “horror” title. The reality is that, whilst the setting is certainly a bit creepy, the encounters themselves tend to imply certain things that, depending on your imagination, can leave you feeling totally freaked out or simply wondering what all of the fuss is about.
After the encounter, the girl is deposited back onto the path to grandma’s house to continue her journey. However, it is obvious to the player that the girl’s demeanor has changed and that the previous encounter has taken it’s toll. The arrival at Grandmother’s house, and the subsequent goings on, again toy with the player’s mind, albeit more blatantly now. The player is then tasked with choosing another of the girls and beginning the journey again.
As a game, The Path has quite a lot of very obvious flaws. But the question is raised as to how many of these flaws are simple programming mistakes, and how many are there by choice, in an attempt by the developers to further emphasise that this is a more artistic experience. The game itself moves at an incredibly slow pace, which I think will be very off putting for most modern gamers. As well as the game progressing at a snails pace, the girls themselves are obviously in no hurry to get anywhere. This can be solved by having the girls run, which presents more problems. By running, the camera view is swung upwards, making your field of view cover only a couple of feet in front of the girl. This makes it not only easy to miss things, such as the items that you are supposed to be finding, but also easy to get lost within the woods.
Which brings me to another problem. The forest is not the easiest thing to navigate. The reality is that the developers have simply duplicated the same area of forest over and over, making it very difficult to get ones bearings. The graphical style used within the game, although artisitic, only serves to compound the problems within this repetitive area. It should also be noted that the game is short, very short. Whilst there are reasons to play through again, they are not the most compelling.
However, the games major flaw, or greatest success, is it’s reliance on the player’s imagination. Depending on the player themselves, The Path can be a masterpiece in artistic, unique gaming, or a baffling, complete waste of time. You quite simply get out of the game what you take in.
So, again I ask, how can I rate this game, given it’s individuality? Well, the game has problems, lots of problems. Whether those problems are designed to build atmosphere is a matter for the player to decide. They do not make the game unplayable, just less enjoyable. It could also be said that the game is not really fun. But, should you go into the game with an imagination or not, this game is likely to leave it’s mark on you.Like marmite, you will either love it or hate it, there is no middle ground. Tale of Tales have tried something different here, and should be applauded for doing so.
I enjoyed the experience of The Path and I believe that more people will take something from this game than will not, simply because most gamers have at least a slight imagination. Priced at only Â£6.29 on GamersGate, I recommend that players try this title for themselves and make their own mind up.
The Path is available to buy from GamersGate