The Path Released

By: Derek Yu

On: March 20th, 2009

Tale of Tales’ beautiful and terrifying horror game, The Path, is now available for purchase ($9.95) through the ToT website, Steam, and Direct2Drive. Two years in the making, the game has already drawn its fair share of praise, confusion, and unabashed criticism (the discussion in the comments of this one are very interesting). And more praise.

But you should probably just try it for yourself before reading too many of everyone else’s opinions. And given the open-ended and experimental nature of the game, and its adult themes, I can understand why ToT has chosen not to provide a demo for it, either. Fans of horror and/or experimental games should find it easy to take the plunge and support developers who stray off the beaten path (pun very much intended).

TIGdb: Entry for The Path

  • FashFush

    Oh hey, did anyone notice the speckles in the trailer that are meant to look like old film crud? If you look closely, they’re tiny line drawings of girls, eyes, cats, chairs, and stuff.

  • sean

    is anyone else reminded of the pen and teller game for sega cd? i am having a hard time getting a handle on whether this whole game is kind of a joke or what? the pseudo-gothiness leads me to believe otherwise, because i’ve just never come across anything with those trappings that isn’t super self-serious, but i have a hard time believing anything this pretentious actually exists. is it just a trick to get people to repeatedly subject themselves to being raped, mudered and bored just because the designers think it’s funny? because if so it’s kind of hilarious.

  • Cobalt

    @sean: The developers are probably laughing their heads off at praising reviews right now.

  • Dracko

    kongming, are you dense? They’re called games for a reason. You don’t ask an oil portrait to sing. The least a game should do before aiming for some bullshit artistic validity (Do you disown all mainstream and retro games because they’re fun to play, as if that’s not some form of expression already?), is to be playable and – dare I say it – enjoyable to interact with. If developers started paying more attention to fine design first, then worry about statements afterwards, the medium would be a lot better off.

  • Dracko

    Also, seriously, comparing this shit to James Joyce? I don’t even think you know your mediums. Finnegan’s Wake is a novel *gasp* It is readable. You’ve got black on white text which your eye can run along. It fucking works. This game glitches and doesn’t even play well.

  • Paul Eres

    re dessgeega: Actually the game is far more interactive than The Graveyard, only perhaps 5% of it is cutscenes, the majority of it is interaction (exploring the forest, picking up items, and so on). So I agree that a game that’s all cutscene and no interaction isn’t much of a game, I just don’t think it applies to this game at all, except for the “rail shooter” parts at the end of each chapter.

    re Dracko: have you bought it, or are you basing that on reviews? It works fine for me, and except for the slow walking speed I think it’s fine technically.

  • RobF

    If nothing else, The Path has caused some of the most unintentionally hilarious cod-intellectual superiority complex stuff to be put down on the intertubes I’ve read in a long time.

    I wasn’t sure if anything could beat “it challenges you to break free of the gameplay mainstream titles have conditioned you to” from the RPS comments section – which is a wonderful, wonderful us vs them (indie vs the mainstream if you will) set up that doesn’t make any sense if you stop and think about it for five seconds. It just makes for a great unthinky soundbite.


    “No, it really isn’t. The difficulty of Finnegan’s Wake isn’t an excuse for not liking it. It means you’re uncultured, uneducated, unintelligent, or (most likely) some combination of the three.”

    In short: If you don’t agree with my worldview, you’re a stupid.

    Come on, man. We can do better than that, right? Joyce may have fucked about with prose but it’s still readable. If anything Joyce plays up to the beauty of the written word and shows a massive understanding of the medium and where you can take it. The Path doesn’t even come close to a comparison in that regard.

    A broken control scheme is still a broken control scheme regardless of intent. If you find that challenges anything other than your patience and tolerance, fair play to you. It’s still broken though, y’know.

    But hey, that’s still not my major complaint over The Path.

    My major complaint is that it felt a naive and immature take not just regarding the strengths of videogames but in its kludgy handling of the subject matter, never mind the bizarre need to wedge movie tropes in at regular intervals.

    I described it on RPS as “Torchwood” adult and perhaps that’s a bit unfair on Torchwood. It’s more Uwe Boll with its completely inept handling of the medium.

  • Sciere

    RobF: well, that was my soundbite.

    The control scheme is “broken” in the way that it enforces a slow approach. It doesn’t even restrict your control entirely, it attaches consequences to it, seemingly mocking your need to speed through the game (zoom out, pumped up music and heartbeat, a dark layer over the screen).

    If their metaphorical take on the subject matter is childish, mixing tender with harsh moments, I really would like to know what games do it better then. The conditioning arises that games supposedly have to define clear goals and give a player complete (and tedious) control over futile tasks such as shooting thousands of guys or opening hundreds of chests. Throw in a few conversations, a logbook or a cutscene, and we have a “deep” game, simply because there is so little that dares to take it further (except for interactive fiction perhaps), because it hides behind the mechanics mass appeal demands. It’s tapping into a large minority of players who want something else.

    The Path gets rid of all of that, and all of a sudden it gets a backlash because it does not adhere to the medium where instantly-delivered mediocrity is king. What kind of game are you defending then?

  • Paul Eres

    “It’s a joke! I doubt those who bought it looked into the game very much.”

    If that were true, you’d imagine people would be scrambling and clamoring for refunds, then. Could you point us to a few people who bought the game and then regretted buying it (for reasons other than it not working on their computer)? Should be pretty easy to find dozens of them… no?

  • RobF

    We’ve been over the controls in the RPS thread.

    They’re broken because they don’t bloody well work half the time. If that’s deliberate, it’s still shit. If it’s not, it’s bugged.

    Either way – it’s *still* broken, man.

    If I press a button and something is supposed to happen and it doesn’t do it – what consequences has it just attached to anything? Sometimes you do something and nothing happens?

    There’s no backlash from me because it “does not adhere to the medium where instantly-delivered mediocrity is king” because in order to get on board with that statement I have to believe (or as you seem intent on inferring, I’m conditioned to believe) that games -as games- are somehow an inferior medium. I don’t believe that. It’s bollocks.

    Your entire argument seems to hinge on a construct, not anything that stands up to any form of scrutiny. No-one is “conditioned” into believing that guff, man. People aren’t somehow stupid for liking that stuff. That’s a massive silly. Games are brilliant, they can and do great things.

    That’s not for a second to say that there’s no room for games to do something different, in fact – over the years there’s been many titles mainstream and otherwise that don’t toe the lines of wherever the current design trends may lie. There’s not this gestalt entity of sameiness called the mainstream. Never has been, doubtlessly never will be. It’s an evolving medium, it takes twists and turns, sidesteps and more.

    And yeah, I’ll defend peoples rights to like gamey games till the cows come home. I’ll even defend your right to like The Path, even though I disagree with your argument here. But then, I’m not arguing for a “large minority of players” (is that like a smaller version of the silent majority?), I’m arguing my point of view as it’s the only one I can honestly back up.

    And my view is that The Path is inept and mediocre on -its own terms-.

  • mama huanita

    Videogames got their Uwe Boll, that’s all I’m going to say (check out who helped to finance The Graveyard). The authors must be laughing their heads off reading this thread.

    And for all the guys defending this teenage pap – go see Begotten, that’ll keep you busy and away from keyboards hopefully. Good luck!

  • Paul Eres

    I didn’t read the RPS thread, what’s RPS? But I did find the movement speed rather slow, but certainly not “broken”. I’d have preferred more responsive controls too, but it’s not broken enough that most people can’t enjoy the game. It’s certainly better than a lot of other 3D indie games, like MDickie’s game, or Quite Soulless. You might be forgetting this is just two people making this entire game — all the models, all the programming, everything — you can’t realistically expect perfection of polish by mainstream games standards. Maybe they’ll patch it and polish up the movement speed one day, this is just launch day.

  • Dominic White

    Paul: RockPaperShotgun, a remarkably good, restrained and generally literate site.

    I have no idea whether The Path is art or not, or even whether it’s a game or not. I haven’t played it either. One thing I can say for sure is that it has divided opinions in the most stunning way.

    There’s glowing praise, confusion, and even some genuine fury, anger and revulsion.

    The people who really hate it seem almost obsessive about it, though. I’ve seen some people go from forum to forum, posting lengthy rants about how everyone is stupid for giving Tale of Tales money.

    It’s kinda pathetic, but the creators must be revelling in the publicity. It takes a lot to upset someone enough to make them trawl the internet trying to scare people off from your product.

  • RobF

    It’s the confusion link in Derek’s post, Paul. Hive of darn fine journalism, RockPaperShotgun.

    Although I’m not strictly referencing the speed when I say broken, that’s an idiotic design decision but not technically a broken one. Although I get the feeling I’m making distinctions between various shades of “a bit rubbish” here and distracting from the actual content.

    “You might be forgetting this is just two people making this entire game – all the models, all the programming, everything – you can’t realistically expect perfection of polish by mainstream games standards”

    Nah, I’m not forgetting that, man. I think “controls that work” is y’know, the first thing you might want to get right whether you’re one or twelvety people. If not, you’re doing it a bit wrong. Other people have made games with shit controls isn’t exactly much of a defence :)

  • Scott


  • David lynch

    You guys were just waiting for an excuse to start another one of these retarded threads, weren’t you?

  • kongming

    A bunch of young males on a video game site make stupid posts about art, story at 11.

  • kongming

    Hmm, in what predictable directions shall we take this discussion next? Let’s complain about how modern art is a bunch of squiggles!

  • kongming

    Seriously, I wasn’t even comparing Finnegan’s Wake to the Path you dolts, it’s called an argument by analogy.

  • Cobalt

    @Paul Eres: Have you ever regretted buying a product? I have.

  • RobF

    Sorry kongmng, did I misunderstand the bit where you implied that not liking something for a reason that you get to dictate makes someone “uncultured, uneducated, unintelligent, or (most likely) some combination of the three” ?

    Man, can I have a list of authorised reasons please, just so I know where I’m supposed to stand on things, ta.

  • Cobalt

    @RobF: That’s your decision. Which is nice.

  • nullerator

    Why should I explore the forest? There’s nothing in it and my vision just get blurry and dark after a while.

  • Paul Eres

    I didn’t really feel the controls were bad enough to interfere with the game. Perhaps that’s because I’ve played a ton of games with worse controls and don’t mind it so much.

    Yes, I’ve regretted buying stuff, but that wasn’t my point — I’m just saying that if this game was as horrible as people who haven’t played it are claiming, you’d expect more posts expressing regret over buying it instead of it being a best-seller on Steam. But it really only seems to be (except for a few exceptions) the people who *didn’t buy it* who are saying it’s a horrible game.

    Also, for the record, I think it was a bad idea to even have linked to the ‘this game is about rape’ “criticism” — while the comments there were interesting, the proposition that every girl is raped at the end of her chapter is a seriously far-fetched interpretation, and one which the developers themselves told me they did not intend as an interpretation.

    At first I actually thought it may have been a possibility because I only played Ginger’s chapter, so it clouded even my judgment with false info. Now it’s become a sort of a meme, with tons of people who didn’t play the game thinking they know everything about it without playing it just because they read that one review. I suggest those who think the game is about rape seriously either buy the game or read the other reviews before deriding the game for being about rape, since 95% of the reviews and the developers say the game is not about rape.

  • Breadcultist

    What’s the rape like in this game?

    Yeah, that’s the only reason I’m interested.

  • Mischief Maker

    Well how would you say it compares to arty non-game Killer 7?

  • Paul Eres

    I haven’t played Killer 7 unfortunately. But I’d say it compares favorably to other atmospheric exploration games, like Seiklus, Knytt (especially the weirder levels in Knytt), or Yume Nikki. The game feels like those games mixed with Silent Hill. If you liked most of those games, you’ll probably like this game.

    Preliminarily, the main things I’d do to improve The Path would be to add more music — each girl could have her own instrument or something, rather than using the same music for each. I’d also up the movement speed a little, at least for the rain sequences. I’d also make it clearer that the stuff on the sides of the screen have a functional navigational use and aren’t just there for decoration. But that’s really all I can imagine improving upon.

  • Rolf Soldaat

    Bought it, played a bit.
    There was no rape, however, there were slow controls and a camera that annoyingly pans up when you run.
    Impairing vision in this way is not a good way to raise tension.

    Aside from that it was just a game of walk around looking for random objects to get some text and odd, long-winded cut scenes.

    I really liked the graphical design though.

  • Flamebait

    mama huanita:
    “(check out who helped to finance The Graveyard).”
    Where exactly can I check that out?

    Paul Eres:
    “if this game was as horrible as people who haven’t played it are claiming, you’d expect more posts expressing regret over buying it instead of it being a best-seller on Steam. But it really only seems to be (except for a few exceptions) the people who didn’t buy it who are saying it’s a horrible game.”
    Maybe it’s because they can tell enough about what it is. I just played it, and it didn’t deviate from my expectations *at all*. A game is purely symbolic, so from observing some of its media (in screenshots, trailers, etc.) and reading gameplay descriptions, you can generally get a good idea of what to expect. The Path is a horrible game, however I’m not angered by the fact that it was made, or that people like it, or that people are giving ToT their cash. [diatribe]

    I’ve noticed this trend before in flamewars. There are people who reckon games should be primarily expressed mechanically, and others who believe that a game’s prescribed text, image, animation, audio, etc. with nearly any minimum of interactivity or mechanical complexity are sufficient (and of course everyone in between). Now, I fall in the former category, although my all-time favourite game, Shenmue, is more akin to the games people in the latter category prefer. We should all learn to respect each others’ tastes, because *all games are art*. That’s why The Path did nothing to challenge my expectations of the medium- I went in with the understanding that games are art, and came out with the knowledge that The Path is a crappy piece of art. My prefences haven’t changed: I still prefer to be challenged, to work out the intracacies of success within a complex system, or to work out puzzles, or think quickly, or be forced to maintain good dexterity. [/diatribe]

    Paul Eres:
    “…the game is not about rape.”
    I highly doubt that, simply for lack of an alternative explanation (please propose yours if you have another). I only played 2 girls’ chapters, the leg-braced one and the piano-playing one. However, the pattern was pretty clear. Towards the end of the chapters each girl becomes enchanted with a male stranger, event X occurs, they wake up on the path, and show evidence that previous unseen events were harmful (slow movement, sorrowful pose). What is event X? Did the girls get the shit beaten out of them? I didn’t notice a single sign of external damage. Were they knocked unconcious? Possibly, but that would inspire more fear than sorrow (granted, if they were raped they ought to be pretty fearful as well).

  • Cobalt

    The review described the game in detail, though. If it just said that the gameplay is horrible or the graphics bog down his machine too much, I could just shrug that off. The thing is, he describes dragging his character through the forest to be murdered at a very slow pace, the graphics bogging down his machine even at very low settings and how his machine can play Left 4 Dead just fine, among other things.

  • Cobalt

    Why isn’t there a demo, anyway? Is the game too short?

  • Paul Eres

    The game apparently is around 6 hours long, depends on how much you explore. Which is short, but decent for $9. I imagine there’s no demo because they haven’t gotten around to it yet, there may be one eventually. Many games don’t have demos on launch day but get them later on.

    Which reviewer do you mean?

  • Cobalt

    Just the ‘criticism’ link up there.

  • Paul Eres

    Yeah, but as I said, that’s just one review — you should check out all the positive reviews the game has gotten too. Do you normally read the worst review first? Not many of the others seemed to have a problem with it, and not many of the people who have bought the game seemed to mention it in discussions of it on forums and such. Even the Steam forums for the game are free of complaints about the controls. Sometimes one guy is right while everyone else is wrong, but it’s not good to bet on it.

  • Cobalt

    Heh, I don’t _try_ to read the worst review first.

  • Paul Eres

    Anyway, I think the controls are okay. The idea that it takes you 10 minutes of just running to reach grandma’s house (as that reviewer claimed) is kind of a lie, since I saw a video of it and it only took 3 minutes, and they stopped and looked around at signs and such. You can see that vid in Tim W’s blog — 3 minutes to get to grandma’s house if you walk directly along the path, not 10. So I’m guessing that that reviewer really just hates the game and wanted it to see as bad as possible, or had technical problems that the rest of us are not experiencing. The second may be likely, since in the comments to his review he did reaffirm that he timed it and it took him 10 minutes of running to get to the house, whereas that video (and my experience) is around 3 minutes.

  • Q

    check out the forums of the game: many spoilers but you get he depth of the game because everyone is making interpretations of what happened.

    This is not a game (gamers love IMPACT), this is an interactive story.
    I think the interaction is really poor (walking, running or doing nothing to let the char interact) ad they could have made this a movie as well, but mabye you feel a bit more through the minds of the little red girls.

    Story: 10+
    Interaction: 2 (at least you can choose the order)
    Sound: 9.5
    Mood: 9.8
    Cutefactor: 8
    Hardware reqs: 5 (runs at low settings on my old Geforce 4 or whatever I have)

  • Lambchops

    Personally I think ToT should have stuck up a demo. While I don’t grudge spending the money on it (if it had been brilliant I would have regretted not buying it) I can’t say it was my cup of tea, and I wouldn’t have bought it with the benefit of a demo.

    i appreciate what the game is trying to do and the art direction is fantastic and the sound was damn good as well (although the loops became irritating after a while) but I didn’t find the pacing was for me and ultimately the lack of any proper narrative meant that I didn’t really fell the urge to play through all of the girls experiences.

    it was pretty neat the different way the girls percieved things but at the end of the day I liken the game more to a piece of modern art where too much interpretation lies on the viewer/p;layer and there’s little actual substance to the thing itself. Though obviously this took a hell of a lot of effort than an unmade bed or an entirely blue painting or whatever so some credit had to be given.

    Just not my thing in the end but certainly worthy trying and making up your own mind I can see a lot of people liking it.

  • Einar

    A lot of the negative reactions I’ve seen here and in other places seem to come from people taking the game literally. Those people were apparently asleep in literature class and don’t understand that the game is an allegory; I’m sure they are the sort who would be appalled at Plato, because that bastard wanted to chain people up in a cave!

  • Mischief Maker

    Well I took the plunge and bought it. It’s like Silent Hill without clumsily hitting dogs with a pipe and no silly piano puzzles. There definitely is a gameplay aspect to it, collecting hidden items scattered all over the landscape. If you could put up with the awkwardness and non-gameplay of Killer 7 for the sake of its arty mood piece, you could definitely do worst than the Path. This is not “Passage 3D.”

  • vickitoria

    why does a simple game about artistic rape need so much opinion?

    I never play games…I LIKED IT. very much.

    If I get raped I would love for them to drop me off in front of my house. so comfortable.

    I like the music, and also that it’s slow…it gives you time to think.

    Muchas Gracias, boludos! :D

  • Flamebait

    “A lot of the negative reactions I’ve seen here… seem to come from people taking the game literally.”
    Which ones (here)?
    “I’m sure they are the sort who would be appalled at Plato, because that bastard wanted to chain people up in a cave!”
    I’m appalled at Plato, because he was a theocratic wanker.