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The Path Day#1: Am I Straying?

So, I have Cryostasis and Dragon Age to play, but something somewhere pointed me at a PC game by Tale of Tales called The Path, and I decided to try that one first. It’s rumored to be a pretty powerful interactive horror story.  So far, it’s intriguing but confusing. I’m not sure yet whether I am missing something major about how to play the game, or whether I’m supposed to be failing the first few times to unlock things. It’s moody in an interesting way, but I’m not totally sure I’m going to stick with it.  Spoilers within.

The Path starts with a red room containing six girls who are looping through short animations of drawing on the floor, looking through a window, etc. That’s literal by the way — there’s no title card. It’s right into this room. The girls are all gothy pre-teens, dressed in black and red. The graphics are mixed; there’s a nice grainy effect on the screen, but I feel like the characters are overly blocky and thus less sympathetic.  There’s a basket cursor which turns red as I mouse over the girls. This is accompanied by a close-up of each girl as I do it. I click on a girl named Robin. When I do, a bottle of wine appears in the basket as Robin gets up and puts a hood over her head to the sound of a gong. The screen fades to black with a loading message.

It re-opens to a overhead view of a road in a verdant green forest, and the title of the game comes up and then fades away over this. The road turns into a dirt path with leads into a foggy place (a city?) and then the game fades to black again. When it comes back, I’m in a third-person perspective of Robin at the beginning of the dirt path. Text fades in reading “Go to Grandmother’s house and stay on the path” and then fades out.  I also get a basic set of instructions: up arrow to walk, left/right to turn, no command to “interact” whatever that means. While I’m figuring this out, a crow lands near the path. Robin starts to chase it on her own volition, and that starts leading her off of the path. It freaks me out that she’s leaving the path, and I flail at the arrow keys to get her to stop. It’s a nice creepy moment.

Not knowing what else to do, I start walking down the path. There’s this weird singing, and raven are regularly flying by. When I get near one, a large translucent version of the raven appears in the foreground for a moment before the raven flies away. Other than that, nothing much is happening. Movement is very slow, and there doesn’t seem to be much to do except walk. After a couple minutes of walking, the music changes, and the screen slowly gets more scratchy black lines at the edges.  After a couple minutes of that, I see a white path up ahead with a wooden fence and a house beyond it. I approach it, and stop in front of it to let Robin interact. She opens the gate by running through it, and I lose control (although there’s absolutely no visual change) as she runs toward the house. The screen goes dark as she approaches it, and the sound of a door opening plays as the next part loads.

The game opens on a creepy looking dark house, now from a first-person perspective. My control here is weird; I try to navigate, but everything I do seems to be sending me forward. I end up passing several doors, going up a flight of stairs, and down a hallway to a door that slowly opens. Inside is a bed with grandmother in it, and a wolf on the other side of the room. Robin goes in (now in third-person and out of my control) and sits at the foot of the bed. The game fades to black.

To my surprise, I then get a results screen, and the results ain’t pretty. 0 out of 13 items, 0 out of 3 secret rooms, a distance value (267 meters) and a no wolf result. I get a big FAILURE for chapter 1 and grade of D.  The last line reads, “You know where grandmother’s house is.” What? How did that happen? I’m really not sure at all what I did wrong or how I could have performed better.  I’m honestly just confused.

I end up back at the main room with the six girls. I decide to pick a different girl, Rose. I end up back at the title screen going over the highway, and then back at the start of the dirt road, this time with Rose. But I get new instructions this time: running (shift-up arrow), action (return), and stop action (down arrow). Okay, why didn’t I learn this at first? Wrong girl? Did I just have to wait until the second time? I’m not sure if I like the way I’m learning this.

Anyway, it’s back on the path. Now that I can action, I decide to action next to raven. This leads me to catch the raven which I collect in my basket. I’m also told I can hit space to see the contents of the basket, which also contains bread and wine.  When I click on an item, I get a text overlay. For the raven, this is “black dress bitter wine all you need is a little care and you’ll get better.” RIIIIIIGHT. There also a house indicator on the map, and as I run, I see wolf prints occasionally appear alongside me.

I head towards the house, and just before I get there, I get a vision of a red bathroom briefly. I reach the fence and action, and I again lose control as Rose goes in the house. I’m back in the house first-person view. I’m desperately trying do something that’s not moving forward. On my way up the stairs, I see an opening to the bathroom I saw in my vision. I push forward to enter it, and I do, although I have no idea if that was something I chose to do or was going to happen anyway. I walk down the bathroom hall, which appears to be infinite, but does in fact end. I’m heading back toward the final door, which opens to reveal the bed with grandmother and the wolf closer this time. Rose (out of my control as before) gets into the bed and lies down next the grandmother. Fade to black.

Results: 0 out of 12 items this time. (What happened to the thirteenth?) I did find 1 of the 3 special rooms. My distance is now 270. Still no wolf, still FAILURE, still D, but this time I know where the wolf is.

This is frustrating. I think I’m supposed to be going through the game in this way, but with no information, I can’t be sure I’m not just repeatedly screwing up. The game is moody enough for another shot, but this better start making sense soon.

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4 Responses

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  1. Margaret (student) says

    I played through some of this a few weeks ago with Ramsey. We had some orientation to what’s going on from the person who told us about it – there were still some things we didn’t get, but we had an idea of what we were supposed to be doing.

    I wondered at the time if the game would have made any sense at all on its own. I think probably not, which is a shame because I found some of it pretty interesting.

  2. admin says

    I’m going to give it one more try, and then I’m going to ask you what I’m doing wrong. Check the next blog post to see if I’ve figured it out yet.

  3. Douglas Yee says

    Ooo, I want to see your take on Dragon Age.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  4. Margaret (student) says

    Okay. I’ll try to come up with some Invisiclues.

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