If You Go Down To The Woods Today…

By John Walker on February 15th, 2008 at 1:47 pm.

One of the more esoteric and unusual games in the forthcoming Independent Game Festival awards, Tale of Tales’ The Path doesn’t play like most games. It pretends to. But it’s not the same.



It goes some way to doing justice to the experience of playing the game, but can’t quite capture the feelings of agorophobia and confusion, in the fairy-tale inspired horror short.

“There is one rule in the game. And it needs to be broken.
There is one goal. And when you attain it, you die.”

You play a young girl, her left leg either false, or in complex splints, making her way down a path to her grandmother’s house. Stick to the path and reach the house, and it’ll be over in a couple of minutes, but you’ll have lost. To win is to lose. Leave the path and you lose all sense of direction. It starts getting incredibly dark, and you just run in random directions, following what might be paths, until you find yourself in an abandoned playground, or a graveyard, or playing pat-a-cake with a ghostly girl.

Add in the score composed by super-spooksome Jarboe of Swans fame, which sort of composes itself in realtime, according to your actions, and the atmosphere builds to a remarkable level.

Goth or Emo: YOU DECIDE

Each time I’ve played, I’ve found something completely new. Each discovery is dark and unsettling, provoking emotional responses from your character. But each feels like a moment of safety. Eventually you’ll stray back into the woods again, the light fading, panic setting in once more as the heartbeat sound speeds up. Finding the path again after leaving it, however briefly, seems impossible, with what look like trails leading nowhere – or somewhere else. It’s an impressively terrifying experience.

Nominated for Excellence in Visual Art, it’s up against some tough competition from Fez, but it would be great to see it getting the recognition. (Expect Kieron to mock it for being for goths in the comments).

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29 Comments »

  1. Meat Circus says:

    Mmm, gothy.

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    Also: Emo!

    (I like this a lot. I think you could do with more stuff exploring this terrain.)

    KG

  3. Johann Tor says:

    Having the score composed by Jarboe (of Swans fame) surely makes it interesting for gohts

  4. Kieron Gillen says:

    Ooh. Didn’t know that. EVEN MORE SO.

    (Being RPS’ resident ex-goth, I probably should write about this)

    KG

  5. Meat Circus says:

    The characterization seems to have a lovely Yordaesque feel to it, which makes me be instantly in love therewith.

    If only I knew anything about the game’s mechanics or dynamics.

    Curse you, trailers that fail to give sufficient apportionment to representation of the MDA pillars! Down with this sort of thing!

  6. John Walker says:

    Being RPS’ resident ex-goth, it’s probably a good job you didn’t. There’d have been tears and makeup everywhere.

  7. Yhancik says:

    I guess reading their blog and forum at http://tale-of-tales.com/ will give you a better idea of what they’re aiming at ;)

  8. John Walker says:

    Or read my vivid and evocative word paintings above!

  9. Seniath says:

    Is this the one that’s actually designed by a couple of artists? I vaguely recall reading about it in Edge a while back.

  10. Meat Circus says:

    Your word-paintings, whilst especially fine, didn’t not fully evoke in my mind how exactly one plays this game, simply what experiences one might encounter whilst playing.

    Nontheless, you engaged my enthusiasm with your linguistic daubings, and they splashed some gothy tincture over the top with their trailer. Now I’m nursing a big fat WANT.

  11. Nallen says:

    reading ‘early 2009′ has never felt like such a kick in the nuts

  12. Irish Al says:

    Where’s the demo, confound it all.

    Also – nice Aphex Twin style “I will eat your soul” voice at the end there.

  13. Yhancik says:

    @ Seniath : yes Auriea Harvey & Michael Samyn, who also make the deer MMO The Endless Forest, and were known in a former (net.art) life as Entropy8Zuper ;)

  14. James says:

    @ Nallen

    I agree completely. I stumbled upon this via the IGF website a week or two back, and was instantly intrigued. This piece magnifies that significantly, more because I can’t find many places where folks are talking about this one.

    I didn’t notice a blog there though. I think I might go and trawl through it now to see what I can find.

  15. drunkymonkey says:

    Oh yes. Looking forward to this, being the lover of twisted fairytales than I am. I love how the wolf hasn’t been visually introduced yet.

  16. xagarath says:

    I;ve been very interested in this for quite some time.
    Good to know it seems to be living up to it.

  17. Dracko says:

    This is going to be exceedingly interesting, whether it succeeds or fails.

    Swans represent. 8|

  18. Jae Armstrong says:

    Going by the trailer alone, it reminds me of American McGee’s Alice in ways I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with. The comparison probably does it a great disservice, though.

    Definitely intrigued though. I had the IGF awards pegged as pretentious artsy-fartsy b*llshit (apart from Battleships Forever, which is awesome), and while this hasn’t changed my mind on that one whit I’m beginning to suspect that at least some of it is going to be interesting artsy-fartsy b*llshit.

  19. John Walker says:

    It would seem that almost all the games in the IGF finalist list should change your mind.

    It’s an eclectic mix, with this year’s entries seeming focused on either fun or innovation.

  20. Michael says:

    I can’t wait to check this one out. I’s been on my wanted list ever since I first heard of it.

  21. Gylfi.Fenriz. says:

    I love what videogaming is finally turning into.

  22. undead dolphin hacker says:

    will you promise to remind us about this game when it actually comes out in 2009?

  23. Kieron Gillen says:

    PROMISE.

    (If we’re alive)

    KG

  24. malkav11 says:

    Yeah, this sounded really cool…and then to discover that it’s not actually out (for ages, even!)…well, I already have one thing I can’t wait for coming out in 2009*. More isn’t fair.

    *The one thing being the sequel to Patrick Rothfuss’ amazing book The Name of the Wind. April 2009. How can I possibly wait?

  25. phuzz says:

    That voice at the end scared the shit out of me. I really want to play this game(?), but simultaneously I want to run and hide in a cupboard at the thought of it.

  26. Tikey says:

    Oh my god. I have never heard anything about this game until now and now I want it badly.
    I’m getting terribly tired of what the gaming industry is becoming with lots of plotless games, shiny graphics, WW2 shooters, and soulless clones I’ve been praying for a good and interesting game that intends something different.

  27. PiotrSkut says:

    Wow, that bit near the beginning with music was creepy as hell – as was that voice at the end.

  28. matte_k says:

    This looks fantastic. But unsettling…that’s a good thing, right?

  29. Willem says:

    I’ve been running around their site for a bit and it seems they had another game in the works, 8, which looks even better. It’s on a break, though. :(