You would think that a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood would be easy to understand. Yet here I am scratching my head ,I’ve spend 4 hours on so far; for those who have no idea what I’m talking about, you can learn more about the game here.
I’ve technically finished the game at this point with all 6 girls getting to their final destination and I really don’t know how I feel. Reading some of the responses on the web I’ve read that some people think of this as a “rape simulator” which leads me to ask what game did they play? I know that this game was made to get some kind of an emotion out of the player, yet I don’t feel anything, I feel confused which is about the gist of it. At this point I could take the easy way out and blame the designers, yet I don’t think this is their fault. I think this is all about me and I have a few theories as to why.
1. My brain : I have and will always be an analytical thinker, one of my favorite past times is to break down a game by its systems to see how each piece fits. Then put it back together while seeing what I could have done differently which is great for someone who likes to design. However it makes it very hard to enjoy The Path which relies on each person having their own interpretation of the events. In most titles I have something to work with when thinking about the story or the gameplay, here I have nothing. With last year’s out there title Braid, which had many different ways of perceiving the events. There was still enough of a story told that I could see the game from different view points. Even watching the end sequences I did not feel scared as I tried to figure out what the hell was going on.
2.My personality: Let me come out and say it now, I did not connect at all with any of the characters. Now before anyone says it yes I know that they’re all females and I’m a male, however there is more to it then that. Even for other introverted designers I’ve had a pretty unique life; I suffer from chronic pain mainly in my legs for 13 years. This has given me a unique view on life and a different childhood from most to say the least. I find it very hard to “adapt” my viewpoint to someone else and in games with moral choices tend to follow my own path. I tried to resonate with the girl who has her leg in a brace but I was never emo so there went that idea. My psyche is so different that I could not get behind each one of the archetypes of The Path.
I don’t think that what I’ve commented on so far is considered “bad” in terms of game design. Just very different from what I’m used to which seems to be a pattern with the developers from reading about their previous game. For a $10 game it is pretty polished but I did run into several annoying bugs. First is that the character tends to get stuck on objects which can make exploring the forest a hassle. Second sometimes I picked up items that did not register. The worst bug I ran into was the ending of one of the chapters not happening but luckily the skip feature worked. There are only 2 legitimate mechanics that I can give thumbs down to. First is that for every object in the game each girl has their own opinion on it but the text takes way too long for it to appear on screen. Second I would have really liked to have seen the actual design and style of the forest change depending on which girl you played as, something to further differentiate the girls.
This leads me to the part that I should say whether or not you should buy this game, yet I’m still not sure. I know that not everyone will get this title as it does explore a lot of subject matters not seen in video games. I will say that there are far worst things to spend $10 on; I doubt that we will ever see another game like The Path from any other development house in the world. I feel that maybe I’m just not emotionally intelligent enough for this title which is why I didn’t get it, but that doesn’t mean that it will be like that for everyone. I give The Path “the girl in the white dress”, as I think she could be a great make shift GPS. Now then if you’ll excuse me I need to fashion some kind of “Corvus signal” to have him come to help me make some kind of sense out of this game.