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<  The Path - discussion  ~  GameSpot Review

redmech78
Posted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:51 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 22 Mar 2009 Posts: 43
This seems to've just come out today/yesterday.

I think they liked it!

http://www.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/thepath/review.html
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Tails1942
Posted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:39 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 14 Jul 2009 Posts: 53 Location: Denmark
redmech78 wrote:
This seems to've just come out today/yesterday.

I think they liked it!

http://www.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/thepath/review.html


Oh my god :O

That'a a great score :O

Thanks for posting ^^
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Alex H
Posted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:00 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 Jul 2009 Posts: 47 Location: Baltimore, MD, USA
Another instance in which the reviewer lowers the score because its not a game.
That's so strange to me, especially when so many of those reviewers recognize what The Path is trying to do and that it accomplished that goal. Its like giving a comedy film a lower score because it lacked a serious storyline.
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Xanadu
Posted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 1:48 am Reply with quote
Joined: 28 Mar 2009 Posts: 45
To be fair, a lot of reviews give it extra points for being indie, or for doing something different, regardless of execution. Overall, most reviews ive seen for, "The Path" are fair, with the exception those done by the shallow adrenalin junkies. Most serious reviews seem to say that its a brilliant concept with flaws in execution. I think that's hard to argue with.
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Alex H
Posted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:31 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 Jul 2009 Posts: 47 Location: Baltimore, MD, USA
I do agree with that, but at the top of the review, under the 'cons' heading, it directly states: "more of an interactive story than a game". That is something totally different than stating "poorly executed" or "buggy".
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Xanadu
Posted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 7:09 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 28 Mar 2009 Posts: 45
Well i'm all for playing devils advocate, so let me see...

They gave a comparable score to the Monkey Island game, without mentioning, "More an interactive story then a game". And Monkey Island would certainly fit that definition. From this, I can gather that they have nothing against games that depend entirely on the story, atmosphere, and other things commonly referred to in games as, "color". Personally, I don't think that they are missing the point with this criticism, but rather they are raising a legitimate concern useing less professional language, in order to make the review more accessible for a wider audience. I could argue that the point they are raising, in simpler language then would be necessary, is a critical lack of authorship on the part of the player in the game. For a game where the theme is makeing choices, the player is put in a position of starling passivity. The choices made require almost no input on the part of the player, meaning they are essentially sacrificing the tight narrative and pacing of a movie in order to gain meaningful feedback and interaction that is never properly utilized. Certainly, what interaction is present in, "The Path" gets a lot of mileage: The simple, binary choice between staying on the path and exploring the woods is tremendously meaningful. But I think that there are modes of expression that are stifled, and that makes too much of the game get interpreted as noise.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved "The Path". But I also think that it fell short of its potential, especially seeing how many experimental games show that even the most bare, simple, and accessible of game mechanics can raise deep and meaningful introspection on the part of the viewer. So I think that the review is fair. Gamespot just has too big of an audience to assume that they can throw all of there knowledge of critically thinking about art out there. And truth be told, if an everyday gamer reads, "Plays more like an interactive story then a game", they will probably get the gist of the criticism.
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kevinv
Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:15 am Reply with quote
Joined: 16 Aug 2009 Posts: 2
Hi there. My name is Kevin VanOrd, and I am the author of the GameSpot review.

The reason the review came when it did is simply that I happened to play it when downloading a games package on Steam. We have a limited staff; it isn't possible to review most, or even many, download-only games. However, upon playing the game, it was clear to me that it demanded a review. It is, as the review notes, an extraordinary interactive story.

It isn't, however, a game that can be recommended to everyone. Please note that the "8" score indicates that it is great. On our scale, a 9 or above indicates a game that can be essentially recommended to, and enjoyed by, almost anyone. I would be highly disingenuous by assigning such a score to The Path. GameSpot is a mainstream publication; Many people that play The Path will find the pace excruciatingly slow, will not understand the storytelling, and will find the lack of gameplay off-putting. In other words, we are a publication that reviews games--and while The Path is an amazing piece of fiction, but not an amazing game. However, by telling our readers that this is still a "great" product, and by clearly outlining in the review text the pros and cons, people that will enjoy The Path but have yet to play it will hopefully purchase it knowing that it was made for them in mind. People that The Path will not appeal to will know to steer clear, and hopefully the review clearly illustrates to them why this game is not for them. An entry in "The Bad" is meant to clearly summarize a point that is detailed in more length in the review text. It is a quick and dirty breakdown, followed by hundreds of words that clearly evaluate the product in more detail.

Comparing The Path to a traditional adventure game like Monkey Island would also be disingenuous. An adventure game generally provides a linear narrative (with potential but contained detours) and puzzle-oriented gameplay. I wouldn't call The Path an adventure game--and I wouldn't call The Secret of Monkey Island "interactive fiction." Many (actually, most) great adventure games are vehicles for narrative, true, but they offer far more structure, both narratively and in terms of gameplay. The puzzle deduction that they demand a different kind of thought process, though The Path is surely a thinking person's game. But The Path's "puzzles" are not gameplay puzzles, but rather narrative puzzles that do not require a solution for you to progress. The Path's gameplay actually seems designed to position itself as an anti-game, if there is such a thing. As I mentioned in the review, traditional gameplay devices such as object-collecting (in this case, flower picking) and scoring (the letter grade) are sticks without carrots. It's as if to highlight how silly we gamers are searching for structure in a product that is rewarding precisely because it lacks traditional structure.

If you read the review, it should be obvious that I love The Path. I am also a critic--my job is to evaluate games in a way that communicates to the reader what the act of playing it is like. I think the review does that well. For something like The Path, that numerical score is meaningless anyway. Anyone that reads the review should hopefully understand quickly whether it is meant for them or not. After all, reviews aren't written for people that have played the game. They are for people that want to know if a game is right for them before deciding to spend their money. As for the poster that takes exception to the score, I would hope that you would read the review text in its entirety to understand our position, rather than simply trying to understand that position with an entry in "The Bad." I believe the review clearly explains exactly why that entry is there: it summarizes the pacing difficulties and lack of standard interaction that will turn off many potential consumers. Judging from the reader reviews for The Path on our site, I would suggest there are a healthy number of them.
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redmech78
Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 3:16 am Reply with quote
Joined: 22 Mar 2009 Posts: 43
Thanks for clarifying, Mr. VanOrd. Smile

What I want to know is:

"...you shouldn't expect the game to provide any straightforward answers. That doesn't mean that the answers aren't there, however; you'll find them woven into the red cloaks, between the keys of a piano, and in the glow of a television screen."


I'm dying to know what your take on the story is. What did you glean from these images??
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kevinv
Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 7:26 am Reply with quote
Joined: 16 Aug 2009 Posts: 2
I am almost afraid to answer that! The delight of The Path is making up your own mind. Roger Ebert has said about films that just because the film doesn't tell you what something means, that it can mean anything. To some extent I believe that, but I think that if a film (or game, or novel) doesn't give you clear answers, it is inviting you to fill in the blanks. In other words, my answers aren't for everyone.

I do, however, dismiss the notion that the game is a simple allegory of rape and death, though I have heard this countless times. However, I do perceive a metaphorical rape, which would make The Path allegory of allegory, if that makes sense. More to the point, it's clear that each girl's story is, at its simplest, about the path to womanhood. It's clear to me in a variety of ways, from the manifestations of the wolves and the final visits to Grandmother's house to the heavy use of the color red. Red clearly delineates blood in most fiction, but I think for these girls, it isn't the blood of violence, but that of womanhood. But I don't think this is just simple menstruation parable either.

Consider objects like the television, and the piano, and the car. The whole notion of losing (but remaining safe) if you stick to The Path, and winning (and therefore experiencing pain) if you don't intrigues me to no end. But what really is the lesson here? I believee ach girl desires that which they are told to fear. One interpretation is that we fear what we're told to fear by others, hence a television (it could poison our minds!), and a phonograph (representing the dangers of music), and so on. Societal dangers are found discarded throughout the forest (you can deface a wall with a spray can, for example); but must everything be so dangerous? There's a contradiction of message that's hard for me to come to grips with. Why must safety with grandmother mean loss, while losing our innocence signify victory?

I think it's because what we crave is that which is most likely to force us to confront adulthood. Each girl seeks what intrigues her. Robin's wolf is a real wolf, but it is cuddly and inviting to her. She just wants a piggyback ride. Rose seeks out the mist; because of the way the wolf encounter plays out, I believe that her wolf represents God, or organized religion. Carmen longs for a man's touch. These are the real dangers: the desires we cling to without question. And I think they are desires that exist because they represent danger (or at least, represent what we're told is dangerous). The desires change as we get older (hence, different wolves for each girl), but it's inevitable that we get led astray. I made a reference to the musical "Into the Woods" in my review that touches on this, but it's worth making a parallel between the Little Red Ridinghood stories there and in The Path: Sticking to the path may lead to safety, but it doesn't lead to growth. Unfortunately, growth also means loss. I don't think the visits to the house lead to literal death; but they mean death of childhood. Beware the guys smoking and trying to look cool, we're told. Don't drink when you're too young, and wait to have sex until you're married, we hear. But there's an incredibly irony at work--you shouldn't do these things, because bad things can happen. The Path shows us that they happen. They're inevitable. But the only way we can truly live is to veer from The Path--to do what we desire without fear of the consequence. But indeed, we find there are consequences.

I also believe there is a parallel to the Garden of Eden here. Adam and Eve could have remained in God's good graces and lived forever--but only if they didn't eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Here, our girls chose to eat--just as Eve did, and as we all must do. One of The Path's most memorable images for me was a tree rising from the abdomen of a shrouded figure. I believe this tree represents the consequences of desire--which is exactly what Eden's tree represents.

And so innocence is lost and blood is shed, but I don't think this is literal rape or death, nor do I think this is meant to be a Christian parable, though I could be wrong. It's interesting that there is a safety net--the forest girl. Besides grandmother, she's the only guiding force you have. Perhaps another religious allegory for some--there is a way to find the answers you seek, and there is One who will guide you back to The Path. I've heard some say that she represents grandmother, which is legitimate. But what is her relationship to the woodsman? They share the same campsite--so I believe they have a relationship. (By the way, I love that the savior in the original tale, a man, is a wolf in The Path.) I don't have any answers here.

But note that the girls disappear one by one. I don't think they literally die... they just become women. They've roamed a forest full of danger--the dangers of television and music and vandalism and spiderwebs and, tellingly, bathtubs. And remember that these objects you discover then appear in grandmother's house. Are we to believe that perhaps the greatest dangers are to be found where we least expect to find them? Or do those objects represent the comforts of an otherwise frightening trip through the woods, i.e., life?

Note that my answers lead to more questions. So I have answers, but not truths... and possibly more questions than conclusions. Even my own interpretations are contradictory. But they are still answers. What are yours? And is it possible for us to weave together a real narrative in a world that is almost nothing but symbols?

Why are there six sisters? I think in part because there are parallels between them. Ruby and Rose represent two sides of the same coin--dreams versus death. Robin tries to escape order while Scarlet must provide it. Tomboy Ginger and hotty Scarlet. I've personally noted that they could be represented by a hexagram (such as the star of David). The hexagram is a religious symbol found in many world religions, though most commonly associated with Judaism. Considering other potential spiritual symbols in The Path (most notably, the mist creature and the other symbolism I've noted), this could be worth discussing, or me adding an extra layer of metaphor that doesn't exist. I can be a pretentious asshole sometimes Smile

I love this game.

[/i]
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SkardJR
Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:38 am Reply with quote
Joined: 16 Aug 2009 Posts: 10 Location: Somewhere in the COLLECTIVE SUBCONSCIOUS.
Kevin:

First I'd like to say thanks for writing that review, it's the reason why I got this game in the first place Smile

I didn't play very far in the game (due to college midterms coming up, yeah, it's weird over here in Asia), but I tried playing Rose and practically immediately I veered off the path. It didn't take me very long to find that misty lake, and I couldn't understand what was in the middle of the lake since there was growling, rain going down, thunder echoing around, and well - MIST.

I found the boat and what I saw astonished me: it was a man! Though a very awkward sort of floating man - he seemed to be bleeding (or at least that's what I saw).

Then for some reason I found Rose practically in front of Grandmother's House.

Once inside, you practically have a linear route til a severe number of flash-imagery comes up at you.

The thing that makes me curious is: when you completely stop while in the house, you hear growling.

After some thinking, I came to the conclusion that maybe the growling has to do with the fact that once you start, you can't stop and you can't turn back.

Anyone else want to pitch in on what it might mean?
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Alex H
Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 5:33 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 20 Jul 2009 Posts: 47 Location: Baltimore, MD, USA
@ Kevin (and Xanadu): Thanks for clearing that up. I understand what what you were trying to accomplish with the review now.

@SkardJR: I always thought that the growling was just part of the atmosphere and gave the player motivation to continue through the house myself. I think that the entire experience starting from being thrown in front of grandma's house is the way it is because the girl's perspective on the world is changed after each experience. If you haven't walked a girl to grandma's house without visiting the wolf, you should do that to see the differences in the house.
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SkardJR
Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:09 am Reply with quote
Joined: 16 Aug 2009 Posts: 10 Location: Somewhere in the COLLECTIVE SUBCONSCIOUS.
Alex H:

I haven't tried going there without straying ^^;

I guess that's because in real life I never really follow things straight to the letter Razz

I'll give it a try though, thanks for the perspective Smile
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Emriss
Posted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:47 am Reply with quote
Joined: 23 Sep 2007 Posts: 612
Welcome, oh eloquent Kevin! Razz

I wouldn't worry about your opinions being taken as the be-all-end-all view or anything. I'm fairly certain most of us have come to the conclusion that there is no right answer, no single narrative. As I believe either Michael or Auriea said (something along these lines), the stories you can find told by The Path are like a series of opposing angles, coexisting even if they're in conflict, and anyone who tries to say some interpretation is the only right one is playing their game wrong. Heap on the extra metaphor, or just take it at face value. As you said, it's inviting us to fill in the blanks. How much is filled in is up to the player.

Don't want to completely hijack this thread, but if you want our opinions and random speculations, just skim the threads of the last few pages.
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JackandBlood
Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:03 am Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Aug 2009 Posts: 51
Very cool. I play shooters, and i like this game. We FPS ppl are not all knuckle brains. I enjoy the dynamics of hand eye coordination and a simulated firearms experience, then I enjoy the calm yet tense experience of an abstract game unprecedented for me.
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Michael
Posted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 11:05 pm Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
It was a great review. Thanks for posting it on such a popular site, Kevin. This definitely attracted a new group of players!

Also thanks for visiting our forum and explaining your position. Very interesting!
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