Inside Pulse 12

Review: The Path (PC)

The Path
Publisher: Tale of Tales
Developer: Tale of Tales
Genre: Adventure
Release Date 03/18/2009

I’ve been waiting for The Path for about a year now. This game promised to return the tale of Little Red Riding Hood to its darker roots. From a brief look at the game’s website one can see that as there are six girls to play with (Sadly that double entendre is far more apropos that you might suspect.). This means the game is not based of the Grimm or Perrault version of the tale, but Der Wolf und die sieben Geißlein.

Charles Perrault was the first man to put the tale of Little Red Riding Hood to print. At the end of Le Petit Chaperon Rouge, Perrault explained, IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, the metaphor for the story:

From this story one learns that children, especially young lasses, pretty, courteous and well-bred, do very wrong to listen to strangers, and it is not an unheard thing if the Wolf is thereby provided with his dinner. I say Wolf, for all wolves are not of the same sort; there is one kind with an amenable disposition “… neither noisy, nor hateful, nor angry, but tame, obliging and gentle, following the young maids in the streets, even into their homes. Alas! Who does not know that these gentle wolves are of all such creatures the most dangerous!

Okay. The moral is: Don’t talk to or trust strangers. Well, that’s not really the moral or metaphor in The Path.

I knew going into this that the development team, Tale of Tales, made some Avant-Garde artsy titles that really aren’t games per say. The Graveyard, for example, is a game where all you do is sit and wait to die. Although you might not. Compelling, no? Well, the weirdness of The Graveyard is nothing compared to the what awaits you in The Path. I’m going to warn you all now that instead of the original metaphor for LRRH, that The Path is nothing more than one giant metaphor for rape. Rape and murder. All you do in the game is walk around, get a girl raped, and then you take her bleeding battered form to Granny’s house where she gets murdered. Young children and sensitive folk should probably stop here. Hell, *I* should probably stop here, but I promised to review the game and review it I will.

What follows is my commentary on easily the worst game I have ever played. Yes. THE. WORST. This game made me long for Hoshigami and Wrestlemania XXI.

Let’s Review

1. Story

I should warn you there is no real plot to this game. The Path assumes you know enough about LRRH to already know the story and what you need to do, so you do not recieve any instructions. You just have to play the game. You have two options from here. The first is that you can walk the path to Granny’s house and deliver a basket and spend time with her, to which the game scolds you for failing at the important task of getting your character raped and killed. Then you have to play as her (or one of the other girls) until you get the job done right. Please note that walking to grandmother’s house takes about ten minutes of just pressing the arrow key and the shift button down so that your girl runs. God only knows how long it will take if you were to walk at the exceptionally slow speed the game otherwise moves at.

Then there is the “right” way to play the game. This involves going off the path into the woods and getting lost, while picking up flowers and objects that may or may not (depending on the girl you chose) unlock new rooms in granny’s house. All this means is you have a longer ending sequence by doing this, which you will come to reget.

Each girl has three specific locations they can visit within the forest. It will take a lot of time to find them. In one of these three locations the “wolf” will be waiting for you. I should point out that in only one of the six cases is there an actual wolf. The others are all sexual predators in one form or another that rape and beat the girl.

For example, one girl’s wolf is triggered by interacting with a rowboat. Here you get on the boat and row around. Then a cloud comes down from the sky, takes on a humanoid form and plays with the girl, whisking her into the sky with a twirl and a flair of artsy farsty-ness.

Then the screen goes black and when it comes back on, the girl is lying in the rain, beaten and injured and obviously raped.

Another example is with the oldest of the girls. You find an amphitheatre in the forest along with a piano. If you sit down to play the piano, an elf comes up to you, flirts with you, and then you start playing the piano together. The curtain of the stage slowly starts to come down while you play and then it fades out.

Then the screen goes black and when it comes back on, the girl is lying in the rain, beaten and injured and obviously raped.

Each girl has a rape scene like this. I’m glad they don’t show the rape, but Jesus, I’ve written enough folklore and literary criticism papers in my life to get what’s going on here, and so have the dozen other people I’ve shown the rape metaphor scenes to without telling them what they were about to watch.

After the girl is raped, or “ravaged” as the game calls it so as to avoid controversy, you have to drag the girl to grandmother’s house. You can’t run – you can only walk, and even that is at a fraction of the normal ungodly slow pace the game played at. Once you get to the house the game is what the developers call a, “Rail shooter” but what is really you watching another ten minute walking scene through a house until you getting to the bedroom and then murdered. Remember those unlockable rooms I mentioned? Well, all they do is add more time and visuals to the already crazy long walking sequence. After the girl is dead, you get a success screen and now you get to play as one of the other girls.

Good god, this is awful. There is no character development, nor any plot, nor any real dialogue save for the rare sentence or three over a few select objects in the game. It’s just, “Wander around until the girl gets raped and then sit for a very long time pressing the up arrow key until she dies.”

I get the metaphor. I get the attempt at trying to go back to the roots of Little Red Riding Hood. However, ToT has missed what the original story was about, instead choosing to go even darker and giving us a game that anti-video game nuts out there will go even more ballistic over than GTA simply because they will take this as a rape simulator ala Rapealay. Sadly, the game is as boring and dull as it is potentially offensive. No redeeming qualities here at all for plot.

Story Rating: Worthless

2. Graphics

Funny story. My computer can play Left 4 Dead without the slightest hiccup. The Path? Not so much. It’s not that The Path is graphically intensive or takes like four gigs of RAM to play. It’s just the opposite. The game has the usual low level Adventure game requirements and the game looks like a very early PSX or Sega Saturn game, so it’s not killing my graphics card. Yet, I had to turn most of the graphical settings to medium or low in order to decrease the insane amount of lag in this game. At full blast there was a fifteen to sometimes THIRTY SECOND lag between a button press (such as escape to pull up the menu). Hell, I even thought the exceptionally slow movements of the girls was due to my computer being on the fritz or something dying. Sadly, no, this wasn’t the case.

The artistic style of the game is obviously inspired by American McGee’s Alice – if that game was done with both half the budget and talent. Character models are interesting and diverse, but they’re all six different shades of goth gal. Not that I mind that particularly, but it would have been nice to show a range of girls and character designs.

So besides suffering from lag, graphical slowdown, and graphics that would have been decent nearly a decade ago, what else is there? Well, background designs aren’t very good. In fact, it’s quite rubbish. Compare the visuals here to The Cemetery and you’ll notice a severe drop in graphical quality between the two projects. The graphics here are very dull, lacking a lot of detail and rather bland. Also please note that this is with the quality turned UP rather than at the minimum. You don’t really want my thoughts on the low end of the spectrum.

When you get close enough to an interactive object, a large transparent representation will appear on the screen. It will either be of that object, or a portrait of one of the other girls reminding you to go there with that choice rather than your current little girl. Sometimes though, the picture shows up way too soon. A good example of this is Grandmother’s house. In Safe Mode (meaning you haven’t been raped), the house shows up on your screen, with the transparent image taking up nearly all the screen even when you still have several minutes of walking ahead of you. Okay then.

So the graphics are a decade or so old in style and quality, the character designs are ripped from American McGee’s Alice, and there’s a crazy amount of slowdown. Just. Plain. Bad.

Graphics Rating: Bad

3. Sound

There’s no voice acting in the game. There’re just a few different musical tracks, some of which feature girls giggling, girls chanting in what appears to be the faux latin you find in B-horror movies, and some special music during the cut scenes of rape and/or death. None of the music is very good and to be honest, the tracks become irritating as hell when you are wandering through the woods, unable to find the third and final location your girl can go to which is also the one with the wolf and you really REALLY don’t feel like losing the two hours of walking you’ve just done.

The cracking voice of a bad singer when you select a girl, the background static that sounds like a New York Subway (even though you are in a remote forest), the poorly playing violins that sound like a string is going to break at any second. It’s all annoyingly bad to the point where you will mute the game by the time you play as your third girl, if not sooner. The saddest part is that the music comes from Jarboe, who non-goths still wouldn’t know even if I said, “She used to be in The Swans.” The funny thing is Jarboe really IS tone deaf. How would the developers NOT KNOW THIS?

Sound Rating: Bad

4. Control and Gameplay

This is one of the buggiest pieces of crap I have ever played. There are three controls schemes, or at least that is what the game tells us. Neither the Mouse nor 360 Controller schemes work for this game. Only the arrow key worked for controlling the girls, if you can even call it that.

The game moves amazingly slow at walking speed. This is literally the slowest game I have ever played. I have never played a game where walking is this slow. Running, which is the Up arrow and the Shift buttons used in conjunction, is ALMOST as fast as walking in a normal game. Part of the reason this game takes one to two hours per girl is because of how maddingly slow this is. You are literally spending your time just moving at a snail’s pace. It gets worse when you realize you can only walk in the three special locations per girl, and after being “ravaged” you move as one-tenth your normal walking speed, making even the most patient gamer go, “GET ON WITH IT!”

Another problem with running is that when you do so, the game shifts from a third person view, to a bird’s eye top down view, meaning that most of your running time is spent with your vision shrouded by trees and black blurs. You also can’t see collectable objects or locations from this position, making it near useless unless you memorize how far an object was away from you and playing guess and check to pick it up.

Object interaction is amazingly buggy. Supposedly you just stand near an object and you will interact with it. This works half the time. The other half your character just stands there while the game flashes the object wondering why you don’t do anything with it. These even happened to me with the wolf! I spent half an hour trying to get the ravage to happen, but the game just ignored even though I was standing right next to him. I took his hat. I drank three beers. I started a fire. NOTHING. This is so amazingly poorly done and bug ridden, you have to wonder how even the developers could stand to go through this thing with even a single lass.

There’s also the girl in white. Supposedly all you have to do is stand still near here and she will take you back to the path. This works even less than the item interaction. I would stand next to her with several girls and nothing. Then when nothing was around but forest, I quickly went to the bathroom and when I came back, this one time she actually had taken me back to the path. The one time I didn’t want it. Sigh. Even worse, with one of your characters, the girl in white turns out to be the wolf so when you try to get “ravaged,” she takes you back to the path. I can’t tell you how often I had to do that one.

If you hold down the shift button, you can see the items you collected, but nothing else with it. Every so often (100 in game meters) you’ll get a brief look of your trail, but these 100 meters would be several MILES in other games that clock walking (Like say Shadow Hearts), making it rare and useless.

Besides all of the aforementioned issues and bugs, there’s still more. You can get stuck between objects, and then never move again. The camera angles are fixed in certain locations at certain times, meaning you can suddenly disappear from the game and then never be seen again. The bottom line is this is about as unplayable a game as I have ever encountered.

Then there are the “awesome” rail shooter bits, where again, all you do is VERY SLOWLY move to your doom. The developers say this is to mimic you pushing an unwilling girl towards her grisly fate, which I guess is their justification for the game moving slower at this point than any other game I have ever encountered in my years of gaming. You can’t do anything except hit that up arrow key and even then, due to the utter lack of responsiveness in this game, you sit there wondering if you’re actually doing anything, if the game is just that slow, or if you have once again entered glitch city.

The Path is the most worthless gaming experience I have ever sat through. It is barely playable, and even then, that’s me trying to be somewhat kind to this. It is awful in every possible way a game can be awful.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Worthless

5. Replayability

If you truly have the masochistic desire and self loathing to sit through six chapters, each involving an hour to two of hitting arrow keys and then watching an artsy implied rape sequence for each girl followed by murder, then hey, you can get a seventh chapter or epilogue where you can play as a “hero.” Oh goody. To be honest, most gamers will give this up by the first girl, and only the most insane will make it to this “bonus content.”

However, I should point out that all of this torture is a single game. In a second game, you’ll find locations in the same spot, and everything will unfold in the exact same way, save for the order you use the girls. Even the biggest fan of this, of which such a thing is as likely to exists as mermaids or flying monkeys, would be hard pressed to admit there is any real replay value due to the game being a fairly linear excruciating mess.

There is some potential for replay, but due to the game being so god awful, it’s lost in the mess.

Replayability Rating: Bad

6. Balance

Between the bugs, the intolerable length, the lackluster and often unresponsive gameplay, and the fact that you are more a bystander watching the gaming equivalent of Andy Wharhol’s Dracula means that this game has little to no balance. There’s no actual playing of the game save for the rare bit of interaction, and even that doesn’t work half the time. Yes I know you want me to do something with the TV, but my girl is just standing there. Maybe if you were functioning properly and weren’t such a buggy rape factory, I would be able to do something faster than the speed of compost decaying.

As the game is flawed in every way possible. From being the slowest moving game ever, to two out of the three control schemes not functioning properly, this is yet another category where the game can only receive the lowest possible marks we give here. Stay the hell away from this. Hide your money and save your sanity.

Balance Rating: Worthless

7. Originality

Okay, it’s rather sad that I can think of multiple rape games available to consumers. However this is the only one where rape is done in an artsy Eastern-European sort of way. I guess that’s SOMETHING. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel at least does the ghoul on hooker rape in a way that is obviously meant to be Police Academy funny. Take that for what you will.

I can thankfully think of other games where legends and folk tales are brought back to their original (or even slightly darker) stories. Best of all the dual Persona 2 games in this regard. I can also think of a myriad of better Adventure games that do these latter two things quite well. Prisoner of Ice is a good example.

The truth is, The Path wanted to be an artsy circling back to the original portents variant of the Little Red Riding Hood legend. However, it fails in this regard by missing the true moral of the story, and then it continues to fail in every way possible with lag, subpar graphics, a lack of any real plot and some of the slowest and most unresponsive gameplay in the history of this industry.

This is the only rape-based game I can think of that has made it to the states besides Rapealay and Psychotic and that’s a good thing. In The Path‘s defense, it does a lot of the rape metaphorically and it doesn’t show anything graphic. In Rapealay‘s defense, it’s actually a well made game even though the content should offend damn near everyone.

Basically The Path isn’t as original as Tale of Tales would have you believe. There’s a spark of originality, but all of the things in this game, including the rape sim aspects, have been done before and in far better ways.

Originality Rating: Mediocre

8. Addictiveness

I have never enjoyed myself less with a game. I have never wanted to stop playing a game more. ANY game that involves an hour of doing nothing but staring at a screen while watching a character walk, pick up flowers and then get raped followed by death is about as bad as a game can get. Really? Who would find this fun? Who would want to play more than a single girl’s story and witness their grisly demise? The game is just so slow, so buggy, and so inane, that there were times this thing made me want to quit writing about games completely. IT’S THAT BAD.

Again, I have never disliked my time with a game more. Even other things that I gave exceptionally low scores to, like Hellboy: Science of Evil, had SOME redeeming qualities. Not The Path.

Addictiveness Rating: Worthless

9. Appeal Factor

Okay, let’s play a game. Raise your hand if you want to play a game based on Little Red Riding Hood. Hey look at that – lots of hands are up. Okay. Who wants to play a DARK version of that story akin to the original tellings? Still lots of hands. Okay, who wants to play a game where there is massive lag between button pressing and the actual reaction from the game? Oh. Less hands. Who wants to play a game where the interactivity only works half the time. Even less hands. Who wants to play a game with all this and involves you pushing your main characters, some as young as seven or nine years old to be raped by creepy pedophiles and then you make them crawl to their last bastion of hope and solace only to have them be murdered in a place they would otherwise consider safe? Wow. Are there any hands left up? If so, I seriously suggest you getting psychological help. NOW.

There is nothing about this game that any sane person would enjoy. There is nothing fun or interesting. It’s just a massive pile of crap interspersed with the rape and killing of LITTLE GIRLS. How can anyone find that appealing?

Appeal Factor Rating: Worthless

10. Miscellaneous

What more can be said? I’ve already pointed out that the game is excruciatingly slow, that it is buggy as hell, that the controls barely work, that it’s ugly, that the music is awful, that the game will offend the vast majority of people that encounter it, and that it is easily the worst game I have ever played since I first picked up an Atari 2600 controller nearly three decades ago.

This is one of those video games to avoid at all costs. I’m sure I’ll get some apologist for why the game is so buggy or telling me that I didn’t get it and that it’s okay to play a game where the goal is to steer your protagonists into rape and death when these girls should be learning basic multiplication or thinking about getting their driver’s license. That I sucked at the game even though I’ve beaten it. In the end all those people are really saying is, “It’s okay to make a hideously flawed game that features rape as the climax of all six chapters if it’s done in an artsy manner.” No it’s not okay. It’s never okay. It’s shit like this that gets ignorant congressmen and senators to raise holy hell about a genre of entertainment they have never tried, much less know anything about. This is just ammunition for the ignorant and angry mobs. Thank god it’s such an independent game, that it will never raise any real fuss. Let’s all keep it as little known as we possibly we can.

Miscellaneous Rating: Worthless

The Scores
Story/Modes: Worthless
Graphics: Bad
Sound: Bad
Control and Gameplay: Worthless
Replayability: Bad
Balance: Worthless
Originality: Mediocre
Addictiveness: Worthless
Appeal Factor: Worthless
Miscellaneous: Worthless

Short Attention Span Summary

A game that lacks any redeeming qualities whatsoever, The Path should not have been made. It’s buggy, unresponsive, ugly, amazingly dull ,and worst of all your goal is to get little girls between the ages of 7 and 19 raped and killed. Tale of Tales may think they have recaptured the original meaning of Little Red Riding Hood when Charles Perrault first put pen to paper, but they are so far off, the Frenchman would be disgusted and aghast to see what he has inspired. This is easily the worst game I have ever played and it saddens me to write the following sentence: “If you really want a rape sim, there are better games out there for you to experience.” The Path may put rape in an artsy metaphorical way, but any gamer that finds any sort of rape and murder of children as entertainment should be kept as far away from our collective fandom as possible lest Jack Thompson finds them before the police do.

UPDATE 3/23/2009, 8:13PM EST: Jarboe commented to me a few minutes ago that the conversation we had before the review went up never took place. As it was done over email, Jarboe says that the person I spoke to must have been a fake. In fact, the email I had the “rape and murder” conversation is ever so slightly different one from the email I just recieved from her. As such, there is a chance that the person I spoke to about the game that was claiming to be Jarboe was a magical internet fraudster. If this turns out to be true, then I need to apologize to Jarboe for hurting her feelings and let you, our readers, know that two of the comments in the thread below are erroneous. I’m going to do a little investigating and until I know for sure, I’m going to turn off comments until I know if it turns out I was tricked.

Update 3/23/2009 8:48PM EST Okay. It appears I’ve hurt the feelings of someone I thought was my friend, and to be honest, that’s not cool on my part. A review is about the product and not the people that made the game. The fact I hurt someone’s personal and not professional feelings with this review doesn’t sit well with me, so I do want to apologize to anyone who was hurt by my review in Tale of Tales. I still think the game is god awful, but please know I don’t think any of YOU that made the game are. Call this covering my bases.

So I would like to make it clear that the Jarboe that made this “Of course this is just a rape and murder game” was someone pretending to be her, most likely in an attempt to create more drama and negative attention for this game (Like MY REVIEW wasn’t enough) and that I hurt the real one’s feelings by making the “tone deaf” comment which was meant to be a joke. Sorry about that Jarboe. It was meant to be light hearted in an otherwise very critical review. None of this was meant to be mean towards you.

  • I’ve a question: do you feel that the subject of rape itself should be outside the bounds of game? I.e. that any game “about rape” (or physical/sexual abuse, loss of innocence, etc.) should not be made?

    Do you feel that this game was a bad example of a game about rape, but that a better game about rape that treats it more seriously could exist? And if so, how could this game be improved so that it does that?

    The tone seems overly negative, with no suggestions about what they could have done differently to make it a good game, no constructive criticism, so the reader is left with the impression that you just hated that the game was about rape, and don’t believe that games can seriously address that subject, and don’t believe that the game could have been improved, but that the basic idea of it existing was wrong, not the execution or implementation.

  • (Oh, and full disclosure, I’m an indie developer and a friend of the people who made this game, so I may be a bit biased in my reaction to this review.)

  • Perrault is the earliest known WRITTEN version of the tale, though it existed for quite some time previously, in many different forms. No one of course can be cited as the originator of the oral tradition, just the written one.

  • By the way you guys, I just found this awesome site called ‘Wikipedia’!

  • John

    What Matzerath said. There’s absolutely no way to know who the “originator” was, if such a person even existed. Folktales are part of a living tradition, and they gradually change every time they are retold.

    And again, the subtext of rape (or at least sexuality) is even there in Perrault’s version, whether it “actually” happened in the story or not.

  • Chikazz

    I’d also like to give my two cents. I loved this game dearly. I felt guilty leading them to their doom, yes, but it felt… necessary, and I don’t mean that from a gameplay perspective. When you wander around, and listen to what they’re telling you, you get to know them, and they ~want~ to go to the wolves. I had the feeling that I’d be giving them exactly what they wanted. But I also felt horribly guilty in taking them, because I knew, especially after the first one, (Robin, in my case, who kept saying that she wanted to play with something big and cuddly, I believe) that giving what they wanted was going to hurt them very badly. I felt rather like a mother who had to let her children go out, make their own mistakes, and get hurt, in order for them to learn and grow.

    And Alex, the Little Girl in The Pretty White Dress is not a wolf. But someone who looks suspiciously like her is. In my case, both the wolf and the Little Girl in The Pretty White Dress were there and it was… interesting.

  • Paul – I think the game is simply a bad game. I don’t think ANY issue should be taboo as long as it’s dealt with in an intelligent fashion. The Path is like a lot of the goth crap I had to wade through a decade ago where most of it was dressed up with the barest underpinnings of imagery and some third rate understanding of the subjects that the creators were trying to speak of. I think the people calling for the game to be banned or directly making verbal assaults on the developers are a bit looney and that any rancor should be towards the game, the poor attempt at allusions, the massive issues with the game from a programming standpoint and how this game is about as artistic as paper mache. I honestly think the only way this could be improved is by scrapping it and starting over. Considering the majority of my review is on the execution issues and include a screenshot of one of the big game stopping bugs, I think way too many people are focusing on the “A game involving underage girls being raped is personally disgusting.” rather then the five pages devoted to “Wow. There’s no way this should have been commercially released with all the bugs I was able to find.” Honestly, had the game actually run smoothly and I hadn’t found all the issues with it, I’d have been kinder to it and said, “At least it has a solid engine.” When two of the three control schemes have severe detection issues, it doesn’t matter if the story is about rape or Final Fantasy 1 Zillion, it’s still a poorly made game and it will get the same level of bile.

    There are many other games that deal with the same issues as The Path. Rule of Rose and Theresia for example. Where both RoR and The path are HORRRIBLY designed from a technical standpoint, with poorly done gameplay and glitches up the wazoo, RoR has a far more compelling story and is actually creepier then The Path, so I’d say RoR is a few steps up from The Path and able to keep that artistic merit that The Path strives for while only suffering from a fraction of the bugs The Path has.

    Theresia on the other hand is crazy dark and definitely covers topics equally as taboo, if not more so. But it’s amazingly well done in just about every way. Well, it is kind of ugly.

    Half my rancor is indeed directly at the idea that anyone would somehow find leading your protagonist to their mental and physical destruction as entertaining along with TOT (and obviously several of the game’s fans) inability to understand what the point is of folk tales, how they are told and why. The other half is simply that indie game or no, this thing needed at least six momnths more of playtesting.

  • -Matzerath you do realize that bringing up Wikipedia generally kills any sort of intellectual discussion on a topic due to how the information is added, edited and deleted?

    And you can easily go back and find earlier oral versions of LRRH before Perrault along with who told them. Again, it’s actually studying the legends and being able to cite works. Amateur Internet key word searching generally provides more erroneous information than not, especially with these sorts of things.

    John – from your comments again, it’s obvious you’re unaware of even the basic trapping of folklore and fairy tales, and you probably have neither read Perrault’s story or can read/write in French. That’s not meant to be mean or snide. I’m just saying Perrault has written commentary where no, his version of the story does not have any intended rape subtext on his part and anyone who has read it would know that immediately.

  • Alex – it was a joke, sir. But if you are going to be silly enough to take the bait, I would like to point out that your Perrault quote near the beginning of the article exists verbatim on the Wikipedia entry for Little Red Riding Hood, which of course could be coincidence, though you would do us a service with your learned research on the subject by citing some these previous ‘oral storytellers’ that a person knowledgeable as yourself can supply. Thank you in advance.

  • Kevin

    If it helps the apologists sleep better, this review probably got me more interested in the game than all the “It’s spooky and deep and by the guys who made that one game!” positive reviews. I’m probably going to play it. I’ll hate it, but now I feel like I have to.

    Which, when you think about it, ties in rather well.

  • Chikazz

    Oh, perhaps I should add that after some minor software conflicts, which were quickly dealt with by shutting down the conflicting software in question, the game ran perfectly on my pc. And many other people’s. Not everyone’s, granted, but I’ve never met software that ran perfectly on every pc.

  • -Matz I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it to sound defensive or mean to you. Especially as we’ve joked before. Chalk that up to a 2am responding after getting home from a party. Ireally didn’t mean it to sound like a dick or being pompous if that’s how it came across.

    If the archives over there for an article about “the highgate vampire” are still up you should check the edit history. OMFG – hilarious.

    Same to John. Please don’t take my last comment to you as insulting or snarkey. I was just saying I’ve read the original French version of Perrault’s tale and the focus here is more on the fact that Perrault’s tale is considered the original of LRRH the character NOT the overall folktale. Perrault added the red hood and the symbolism it stands for. If you see rape in it (much like I see Rape in The Path) I’d be a hypocrite for saying it’s not there. I’m just saying that the overall focus on study on the first LRRH tale is on the hood itself.

    Anyway to Matz! I pulled my quote from ISBN 978-0486424767 Les contes en vers et en prose which is great because it’s a Dual Language book and you can read a decent English translation along with the french version. For those that read French rather can get the more complete Les contes de Perrault (ISBN 978-1421206028 . You can also check out Little Red Riding Hood: A Casebook by Alan (ISBN 978-0299120344 ), Steven Swann Jones’a Article ‘On Analyzing Fairy Tales: “Little Red Riding Hood” Revisited’ from Western Folklore (Microfiche it maybe? It’s from 1987) and Victor Laruccia’s ‘Little Red Riding Hood’s Metacommentary: Paradoxical Injunction, Semiotics and Behavior.’

    As for tracing the legend back further than Perault to known oral examples, you can go as far back as The King’s Book aka the Codex Regius. That was written in the late 13th century and many (but not most) folklore scholars claim this was the origin of the Little Red Riding Hood myth. All of these were minstrel tales and or songs that were passed through the norse culture by song. At one time (and you’ll see this in some of the pieces I named for you. Sæmundr fróði was at one time considered the originator of the tale and it was belived it passed to France because he lived and studied there for part of his life. However more scholars than not doubt this now.

    You can go back even further and find the story in the תַּנַ”ךְ or the Jewish bible. I have to admit though. Taking יוֹנָה as the source origin of Little Red RIding Hood is a fascinating idea, but I’m skeptical on it. So are most of the rabbis I’ve talked to.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. We’re really gone off topic which is a disservice to the Path and Tale of Tales. We should probably re-rail the conversation back onto the game itself and the symbolism (or lack thereof) and the overall quality of the game because otherwise we’re all going to look like pretentious gits to people new to reading this. :-) You’ve got my email right? If you want to do more on the folklore, we should do that there or maybe start a thread in the forums. The Nyogtha section on the site here also is a collection of some of my folklore (and cooking) pieces if for some reason you want to go into those as well.

  • Kevin – I don’t think the “apologists” are going to sleep well until they change my mind on the game. This happens with every title. There is always a small subsect of gamers who will love a title and defend it to the death because god forbid someone have a differing opinion or intepretation of their own. Thankfully with The Path, the majority have wanted an intellectual discussion, which I approve and respect rather than “OMGWTF MY OPINION IS FACT F*** YOU!” which is sadly how a lot of gaming threads degenerate into on other sites.

  • Chikazz

    I know your comments were not aimed at me, but I wanted to say, in case it did end up coming off that way, that my aim wasn’t to change your mind, but instead to give my own personal viewpoint. I realize you are quite steadfast in your own view, and have a right to it as much as anyone. I really don’t agree with you, but that doesn’t mean I have to change your mind. And sorry if my comment about your pc issues came off harsh. I’m tired and I’m in a rush to pack.

  • James Cavin

    Thanks so much for this article! I was slightly curious about the game after seeing it mentioned on tigsource (their post mentioned nothing of the games’ content, but had a link to this page labeled “criticism”). After reading what you had to say, I know for certain it’s not the game for me. But it was really great to see the intelligent discussion in the comments here! I will definitely be coming back to this site.

    On another note, you mention several times that Tales of Tales missed the point of fairy tales in the first place. I’m rather interested in both games and folklore, although I have no serious education in either. What, in your opinion, is the point of fairy tales, and how can a game convey this point? Are there any games that have done so successfully?

    Sorry for the slightly off topic question, but I’m really interested in the subject of folklore in games.

  • Chikaszz – No need to apologize. I really enjoyed both your comments. it’s totally cool that you don’t agree with me and you have NO IDEA how refreshing it is to see about a dozen people taking the time to tell me “That’s not how I view the game.” after I dealt with about a dozen people in a row before writing the review that all unanimously agreed “Dude, this game is nothing but rape. WTF?” I’ve loved seeing the comments and hearing others intepretations and also having new people on the site point blank ask my credentials for my interpretation as how would they know that I do writing and consulting for several video game companies regarding folklore and metaphor? They’re new to me, my commentary and the site.

    Gamers as a whole NEED to have discussions like this. Intelligent debate and discourse rather than sitting around flipping virtual middle fingers or saying “You suck.” Yes, we can be passionate and sometimes heated when we disagree but name calling and talking without listening to the otherside has given our fandom a well earned negative stereotype. Even if we part disagreeing on the Path both intellectually and tech wise, at least we were able to have this discussion like mature adults. That’s what matters most to me.

  • Mr. Cavin – Welcome to Diehard GameFAN! It’s great to hear from you.

    I don’t really have room here in the comments to do the whole “What is folklore” bit. Thankfully though, I do have a piece on the site from November 2005 from my folklore column talking about what folklore is. Man, this is old but relevant!

    It’s a nice introduction to what folklore is and how it’s basically oral/written anthropology/sociology and archaeology.

    Anyway, ToT made several big mistakes. The first is that a fairy tale has to be accessible to children. Not written specifically for mindy you but ACCESSIBLE and UNDERSTOOD. By making this an “Mature” game with a lot of vague commentary, it automatically disqualifies this as a fairy tale. A fairy tale can indeed be written for adults, as several were, but part of the taxonomy is that child can still hear or read the story and understand the base level as well as the metaphor. If you decide to study folklore, you’ll encounter “The Précieuses” and Madame D’Aulnoy. She wrote two full books of fairy tales meant primarily for adults. However she knew her children would want to hear her stories as well as the children of her servants, so even those adult tales are told in a way that any single digit child can understand them and walk away with the moral. However, as Fairy Tales (regardless of which classification system you use and there are several) are always designed with the purpose of teaching the reader a lesson in morals, behaviour or how to be a good member of society, The Path fails in that regard as it does none of those options. It’s dark for the sake of dark bordering on pretentious fluff and shock value.

    A neat comparison to those early folk tales would be the very early Warner Bros. Bugs Bunny cartoons and the like. They too were as much for adults as children but over the years they softened and became primarily only for children. There’s some great pieces that go into detail on this.

    Another area is that a fairy tale must be simple, deal primarily with archetypes and characters are simple. Again, this is an area where The Path falls short, even with the simple aspect.

    Third, as you play as the little girls in this game and actively guide them to their doom/demise/ending/what have you the biggest point of the Fairy Tale is missed – the child (or reader) in question is meant to learn NOT to do what the protagonist did to cause harm or a temporary dillema for them. By guiding six girls to a similar fate by similar means, The Path has in fact become, an ANTI-Fairy tale. A darker reflection of the intent of this oral and literary genre, which can be pretty dark to begin with. As such, ToT missed the boat in spectacular fashion.

    Finally Fairy Tales are usually interpreted with a Jungian of Freudian literay criticism style. Even though you know, large groups of people discredit Freud, it’s still the school most used. If you’re using Freudian LC, it’s almost impossible to not interpret The Path as “Rapeapalooza 2009.” Jungian would give it an easier time, but the end result is still “That’s a lotta rape!”

    I hope this helps James. I’m actually going to have to stop talking about The Path for the weekend as I have reviews of Mana Khemia for the PSP and Valkyrie Profile 3 for the DS to start on. The first VP, by the way, is a far better use of folklore, mythology and the like then The Path in every way possible. I can’t think of any possible rape interpretations either. ;-)

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  • Well, I think the poor horse we’ve been beating is extremely deceased, but it was definitely a good conversation. I still of course disagree with most of your arguments, Alex, but I do appreciate your knowledge of the subject and especially the pointers to new and interesting reading material! In the end all of this seemed to have helped the sales for the game, though I fear that Steam is about to get a lot of scary emails that look like this:
    “WTF?! tHAT wuznt a rape simulater!!! Gve me bac my 10 dollars you buncha ****!! If I wantd tu take a hike in da woods I’d go outside!!!”

  • James Cavin

    Thanks so much for the info! I obviously have a lot of reading to do (I’d still be reading my library copy of Hero with a Thousand Faces, but somebody recalled it over spring break).

    And I’d really like to thank everyone here for having such a courteous, intelligent discussion. This site has been an amazingly refreshing find in the usually flame-war-torn landscape of gaming forums. This is definitely going on my favorites!

  • Wow

    Since the developer probably had High Art in mind when making this, the developer should be aware that art, of course, is all about the enjoyer’s perception. People see different things in art. There is only misery and RAPE in this game. OK, way to prove that games aren’t just for children, it’s so groundbreaking a game that challenges the player to either LOVE/HATE it. Wow, everyone’s response and reaction is so emotive. It’s rape. Try something more subtle next time. Give it a dozen or so years before you attempt another game. Meet more people first. Learn about masculine and feminine.

    This game is ART, just like ALL GAMES. Except this game tries so so so very hard to be art, and its themes nearly all revolve around RAPE. This game is a piece of shit, and not worth anybody’s time.

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  • Yes/No


    It’s a horror game. It’s supposed to make you feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t rely on body or shock horror. Gamers are so used to not having any emotional involvement in games (perhaps at all) that when a game like this comes along it scares them in a way they just don’t know how to deal with.

    The only game I can compare this to is Planescape: Torment when playing as an evil Nameless One.

    This is perhaps the second game to toy with the player emotionally in a way that’s unique to a game: your own actions.

    Then again, maybe I’m wrong.

    Oh well.

  • KoolSpot

    Excellent Review!!!, Excellent Discussion, I am bookmarking this page right now!

    I was a courious about the game, then i saw this review, and i am not going to play it. Why? Is not because is about rape, is because a RAPE game with all those bugs and flaws is not worth it. I have seen like 4 Different reviews with different opinions about this but for me this is the best one.

    I am completely agree with you, but i am going to say the following: The game has some clever points in the way he was meant to be, but smart twists and turns are not good storytelling if there is no history to tell.

    Anyway thats my humble ignorant opinion…

    Excellent Review Alucard…

    Sorry about my english, i am still learning…

  • KoolSpot

    I forgot to say: Maybe i am an old school guy but for me games should be FUN. You are going to play with a game, so basically a game is a TOY. Of course don’t misunderstand me please. THere are adult toys, however FUN is needed.