The Path is a beautifully created imagining of the classic Little Red Riding Hood story that we heard as children. You take the role of one of six very different young sisters and you are told to follow the path to grandma’s house and stay on it. Of course you can simply follow the path to grandma’s house, but the real adventure lies in what you see off the beaten track.
The first two times I played I didn’t really achieve anything, the first time I seemed to find myself stuck on a repeating screen of what can only be described as wall paper, the only options were ‘Skip’ or ‘Continue’. I was already a bit freaked out from simply walking in the forest thanks to fantastic atmosphere that the game creates. Being faced with this strange event I hastily quit the game.
The second playthrough was much simpler; I followed the path to the house and entered. While nothing happened that time, I was unsettled. The changing visual style as I neared the house creates a sense of impending doom and danger. The house itself maintained these vibes, excellently aided by the moving music in the background. Ultimately I was presented with a report card informing me that I had failed and achieved a measly ‘D’ grade. You are presented with this card whenever you complete the game with one of the sisters and whilst it lets you know what you did in the forest, it feels a bit unexplained. But that is just part of the charm of the game.
The report card is a strange approach, but one that works. It lets the player know that simply following the path is not what the game, if you can call it a game, is all about. The Path is about exploring the forest that is full of a variety of very mysterious events and visions. Sometimes they can be really quite unsettling, once such instance with Ruby in particular sticks in my mind. Ruby is 15 and wears a leg brace, she has a very gothic appearance and her written commentary on what happens to her show a girl with a very dark view of the world. However when I returned with the youngest sister, Robin, the events played out entirely differently in the same scene as the one that got to me as Ruby. The variation in stories that emerge through the different characters is vast and shows The Path to be a very fulfilling game if you invest the time to explore it all.
This is a game which won’t appeal to everyone; it is very slow paced and artistic. There is no action of any meaningful kind, indeed everything that occurs outside of grandma’s house will only happen once you let go. You may be the one that direct one of these girls to an item or place, but once there you have to let go for everything to unravel.
Really what The Path does is provide us with something new; there aren’t many games which are like this. Steve has said that he could write an essay about it, and I agree with him. The Path poses many intriguing questions about the division between art and game, it is also a horror game of the finest degree, it doesn’t have any shocking scare moments. Rather, it unsettles and unnerves you in many ways. I highly recommend you check out this game, it is on Steam for under £8 and is worth every penny.
An artful masterpiece that everyone should play.