Pay What You Want For Tale Of Tales Bundle

By John Walker on October 29th, 2010 at 10:38 am.

Seeya gran.

In one of the more strange press releases I’ve seen, Tale Of Tales have announced that the Day Of The Dead bundle of their gamesThe Graveyard, The Path, and Fatale – is to be “pay what you want” for the next five days. Because, um, they want us to think about death. Which is cheery! It’s all in aid of funding their next project, codenamed The Book Of 8.

Their games are about death, of course. The Graveyard is the extremely short game in which, well, you die. It’s a visit to a cemetery by an elderly lady, and I think it’s still their best project: a genuinely moving experience, beautifully constructed. Then there’s The Path – one of the most chilling and peculiar games I’ve played. You can read my extended thoughts on it here, and Kieron’s review of it here. I’ve yet to play Fatale, but I understand it’s another vignette game in which you play John the Baptist, um, after he was beheaded.

Tale Of Tales explain why this is exactly the right time to buy these, with Halloween on the horizon.

“It’s ironic that Halloween has become such a joyful holiday,” ponder Tale of Tales’ directors Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn. “On the eve of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, humans try their best to forget their fear of death. But why? Death is a fascinating phenomenon that we have explored in the three videogames offered in the Day of the Dead bundle. We hope our games allow players a moment of silent contemplation, away from the cheap scares and the rubber monsters. We all know people who have died. We will all die ourselves. This is the time of year to remember that. As the days get shorter, and nature around us withers, let’s be quiet for a little while, and connect to the darkness and the cold. Maybe we will find it’s not so frightening after all.”

Happy times!

This is definitely the moment to get hold of them if you’re interested, but have never felt quite able to commit to games that go out of their way to be uncomfortable experiences. And those who choose to pay $50 or more will get “a special surprise”. Eek.

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67 Comments »

  1. sneetch says:

    Thought that screenshot was a Blackadder II game for a second there. Disappointed it’s not. :( Watch out for the bloody minstrel!

  2. Heliocentric says:

    We will all die ourselves.

    Speak for yourself.

    The other 2 games seem wretched, but the path is worth experiencing, if also slightly wretched.

  3. Inigo says:

    Death is a fascinating phenomenon that we have explored in the three videogames offered in the Day of the Dead bundle. We hope our games allow players a moment of silent contemplation, away from the cheap scares and the rubber monsters. We all know people who have died. We will all die ourselves. This is the time of year to remember that. As the days get shorter, and nature around us withers, let’s be quiet for a little while, and connect to the darkness and the cold.

    “Now I’m going to go reapply my black eyeshadow and update my Livejournal.”

  4. poop says:

    shame you cant pay $0, or -$5 or reclaim the time you spend playing these games

    • SquareWheel says:

      No need to be a dip stick about it.

    • Rich says:

      It’s clearly intended as art, to be enjoyed as art, rather than a game, which you play. I respect that.
      I’m not going to pay money for it though.

    • poop says:

      Intended. Intended as art, I can kinda appreciate that they are trying to make artgames but it doesn’t change the fact that the games are all trash b-grade david lynch clones

    • phlebas says:

      Given that David Lynch doesn’t make games as far as I know, I’m glad these guys are around.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      That’s the thing: If something is trash, people call it “David-Lynch-style art”, and suddenly it’s supposed to be special. It’s not. It’s still crap. And so are Lynch’s movies. Nobody actually likes them. People just think they are supposed to like them, because else they would be seen as “incompetent” in terms of art. (Which of course is impossible, since art is by definition relative to the observer, and not objectively judgeable.)

      There is a more generic word to look out for though: “cult [something]”. Like in “a cult movie”. I don’t know how much that’s used where you live, but here it’s always used for bad things that people are supposed to like anyway because it’s quirky in some unusual way.

    • poop says:

      if david lynch made a game it would be more creative than a granny death/ little girl get raped simulator

    • Dawngreeter says:

      I like how two posts above, there’s a complete lack of understanding of what terms “art” and “cult” are supposed to mean. Also, Lynch makes bad movies. I’m so glad when people hating something willingly display how their opinions have no weight.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      @Dawngreeter
      Explain the terms “art” and “cult” to us if you think there is such a complete lack of understanding here.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      Art – Used to be skill relevant to making something. Still relevant in terms of visual arts wherein “artwork” and “artist” simply means “a picture” and “person making a picture”, respectively. In more general terms, it has drifted in recent times more towards meaning something along the lines of: “a process of (usually abstract; usually one-sided) communication where means of communication is more important than communication it facilitates”. Indeed, art exists even when there are no recipients for the message artists craft. The fact that art can be subjectively experienced does not mean art is subjective, it means experiences are subjective. Which is true regardless of whether those experiences are of art or anything else, hence completely irrelevant to discussions about art.

      Cult movie – A non-mainstream movie with a strong and dedicated following. Derived from cults, which would be groups whose practices are at odds with the mainstream practices and beliefs. The “non-mainstream” clause is strongly debatable, as even Star Wars could be considered a cult movie.

    • Vinraith says:

      @poop

      Exactly. My first thought when I saw this was “can I get the time and money back that I spent thinking the Path actually had something interesting to say?”

    • Smike says:

      @barefoot
      I like David Lynch films. Are you saying am wrong, that I dont really like them cause you think they are pretencious and “bad”? What you are really trying to say that you are so much better then everyone else because what you like is equal to everyone else should like…. why do I even bother…what happened to RPS, it used to better then this.

    • TariqOne says:

      Sometimes being an avid reader of RPS has its drawbacks. Like that time it duped me into paying full price for The Path. Not a fan.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I’ve always wondered what people (seemingly the majority) who dislike David Lynch films are like.

    • Ozzie says:

      @BAReFOOt: I love Lost Highway. And Twin Peaks.
      So, I guess I proved you’re wrong.

  5. Morte says:

    death isn’t a fascinating phenomenon, it’s a very simple fact. The paradox which is unique to humans: in which we are aware of our own inevitable death, and its affects on our life as we try to repress (or deny) that knowledge whilst still trying to live a fulfilling life, ARE fascinating. Which is I think what they’re actually exploring.

    I may be wrong though, they are the game writers, not me. I agree, it is fascinating, and not in the least bit depressing.

    • Rich says:

      “we are aware of our own inevitable death, and its affects on our life as we try to repress (or deny) that knowledge whilst still trying to live a fulfilling life”

      We’re pretty good at repressing it. We’d all go mad if we weren’t.
      It’s always been my feeling that dwelling on death, and really worrying about it, is largely fruitless. Why worry about something you can’t change?

    • Dawngreeter says:

      Because you can’t change it.

  6. Spacewalk says:

    So their games are a little stiff…

  7. BooleanBob says:

    I’m interested in playing all of these games, and this is pretty much the prod I needed to rouse me from my consumer apathy. Having bought them, I will eagerly await the prod that will arouse me from my player apathy and actually get around to clicking on an executable.

    Still! Good going, ToT.

    • BooleanBob says:

      “I will eagerly await the prod that will arouse me”

      Boy, ain’t that the truth. Probably not appropriate for the discussion at hand, though. My apologies!

  8. Soulsick says:

    I wanted to enjoy the path, it sounded like a sandbox game about exploring the darker side of fantasy. Instead it was a game about picking up 100s of hidden items and decyphering their compass display (which I didn’t even know was a compass until after I deleted it). I didn’t even finish the first character, let alone see anyone die.
    I haven’t played their other games, but I would assume they were similar. Their press releases make them sound like works of art, which games certainly can be, but after playing it.. I really have to disagree.

    • Jack says:

      Agreed, I didn’t think much of it. And I enjoy games with metaphors at their heart! The last level of braid, for example, almost made up for the terrible huge mopey text blocks that make up the game’s story up until then.

      But The Path got on my nerves. It’s not actually exploring the darker side of the fairy tale at all- the metaphore is exactly what the fairy tale was in the first place, “Beware of strangers” taken into a modern context in a moody setting.

      Look, spoilers about it all here: You have a lot of little girls, and you can choose to take each one to grandma’s house. If you do, the game will tell you you failed. To “Win”, you must take each little girl off the path, and go talk to some kind of stranger. The screen will fade to black, and then you regain control of a beaten and battered looking version of the little girl and must crawl to grandma’s house, taking twice as long. You have to do this exact sequence over again for each girl.

      I’m sure Tale of Tales thought they were being very deep. But “Don’t talk to strangers or you’ll get raped and beaten” is just the exact same message of the fairy tale regurgitated, with slightly more grindy flower-gathering.

  9. John says:

    I never really understood the criticism of Tale of Tales. I guess people want them to be ‘games’ more than their creators do. A previous poster said s/he expected The Path to be a ‘sandbox game’ … That’s entirely the wrong vocabulary. ToT don’t seem to be interested in making ‘games’, they’re interested in using interactivity to explore ideas and themes. Traditional ideas about fun and game design are kind of irrelevant to their products. You might argue they’re aiming their titles at the wrong audience then, but I think the problem is just that it’s an area of gaming (or interactive art or something wanky I guess) that hasn’t been properly defined and established yet (and should be).

    I think they’re very successful at what they do. You just need to accept what they’re trying to do.

    • vanarbulax says:

      Now this is me speaking without actually having played any of their stuff so feel free to ignore me. But Tales of Tales always just give me the wrong vibe. Their interactive entertainment/art always seems not very good, I can see what they are trying to explore and think it’s great that they are doing that but it just doesn’t seem well developed and/or trying to hard.

      It just seems like they are getting a pass because they seem to be tackling unusual concepts, but from what I have seen they don’t appear to do it very well, or at least not in a way which uses the medium well enough to explore it with the player. Even then I don’t find their concepts particularly intriguing. This is not about being more “gamey”, it’s about being engaging to interact with. And they seem to be overly pugnacious, I mean more power to people trying to do interesting things, I just don’t have to like them if I don’t find them interesting.

      Now this is clearly not a proper criticism of Tales of Tales, I haven’t played their work and probably am not going to invest time and money in their game even with this offer. This is just me showing how people can begin to view Tales and Tales in a negative light, I haven’t really heard people ranting about how great their execution is, and so without an investment in their high-concepts I still don’t feel enticed.

    • Soulsick says:

      @John Totally understand what you’re saying. But making a level where the goal is to collect 100 hidden objects can’t really be classified as anything new, groundbreaking, or for that matter, interesting. There is no exploration of traditional ideas, no thinking outside the box or trying to use the medium to tell something new, once you strip away the dark/gothic presentation there is nothing but a brain dead game of “collect the hidden things”.

      What I see is an indie developer talking a lot and producing not much. Very much the Molyneux of the indie scene.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      It’s not about the journey, not the goal. You don’t like what you need to do to win the game. That’s fine. The game tries to be about everything that happens while you go about doing that. About the path, so to speak. Heh.

      What they accomplished might not be the best possible way to do what they set out to do, but reducing it to victory conditions is very much not engaging the game at all. It isn’t about collecting 100 objects. Just like Prince of Persia wasn’t about rhythmic key pressing. Even if in The Path you do collect 100 items and in Prince of Persia you do rhythmically press buttons.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      “It’s not about the journey, not the goal.”

      Yeah, that was supposed to say: “It’s about the journey, not the goal.” Note to self – typing while doing ten other things does not produce coherent posts.

    • Jack says:

      I don’t believe throwing out every bit of established knowledge in an attempt to be avant-guarde is the right way to do it, no matter what medium you’re working in.

      I also don’t think you can look at someone who’s not enjoying your game and just say that they’re doing it wrong because they came here with the wrong expectations. When someone sits down at a screen and is told to use a keyboard to control an avatar within a 3D space, they’re expecting a game, for better or worse.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Throwing out established knowledge is the only way most artforms ever evolve into something interesting.

    • Demoe says:

      @Jason I must strongly disagree with this statement. You’ll find a common trend in art where all the people who reinvent certain media do so by mastering the traditions then systematically and carefully breaking the rules that said traditions are based on. As the saying goes: “you have to learn the rules before you can break them,” and ToT seems to have glossed over the whole “learn the rules” part. They’re trying to evolve something from nothing, which is daft, and frankly insulting to the breakthroughs and discoveries done by everyone else in the field.

      They certainly know how mood and atmosphere work, and their concepts are noble and original, but they have yet to show any ability to craft a compelling interactive experience, which is where embracing “games” would really benefit them. Hell, I’d say CoD:MW has more artistry and punch than their moody virtual warehouses simply because they know how to guide and pace a user.

    • Soulsick says:

      I can see what you’re trying to say but it doesn’t match the “game” itself.
      There is nothing apart from picking up 100 items.
      Games like Prince of Persia have tricky game play and require skill, theres more than just getting a sword and getting to the end. There is actual game play… art.. style..
      All the path has is the following:
      -A flat world with a single road.
      -Trees beside the road.
      -100 items
      -A house at the end of the road that if you enter, you fail.

      You can’t die from exploring, there is no fear, no emotion. It’s just “find the 100 hidden things”.

      How is that a game? or even art? There isn’t anything there

      I want the path to be good, I want Tale of Tales to make art… but The Path is not good and it’s not art.
      It’s an environment devoid of life with 100 randomly scattered items. Nothing more. There is nothing that makes me question morality, expand my horizons, evoke a new thought, question my beliefs. No emotion, no intelligence, no love, no fear. Just an empty forest created by some 3d and texture artists. I really can’t understand how anyone can defend The Path.

      Once again… all it is is an empty level with 100 items.

    • TJF588 says:

      @Soulsick: The way I see it, it’s difficult to merge gameplay with story. Probably my most impactful experience with it was in the near-end of CRISIS CORE, where the system you’ve been playing with/beside and character motions are tied in with the event happening. Most of the time though (especially in JRPGs), the gameplay system is in stark contrast to what’s going on with the game’ story.

      Not to say that The Path has anything worthwhile to convey (though I’ve made a pretty pricey leap into it, buying the current USB Edition), but why do you keep focusing on the 144 flowers as if that’s the point? IIRC, it’s more of a checkpoint sort of system. an indicator of where you’ve been (or where you haven’t); the developers actively discourage actually hunting them all down.

    • Soulsick says:

      Ok, so I _finally_ got around to watching a walkthrough of one of the characters in The Path with the “woodcutter”… and it turns out it had nothing to do with those damn flowers!
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hUYiOFOohA&feature=related

      So, infuriating.
      The game doesn’t really give you any hints as to what you’re meant to do. Normally that would be fine, you explore and some events trigger and you figure it out, but when I played it none of these events occured! And looking at the walkthrough, the items you’re meant to find / events your meant to trigger, are obscure and hidden (you find a boot in a forest!).
      I got some areas where the camera changed perspective, but nothing ever happened.
      Even if you figure out that the overlays on the screen are a “compass”, it’s really confusing because it often just decides to point in a different direction.
      The camera is annoying when you run (you can’t see ahead of you) and the actions you need to perform are quite strange.
      Rescue a girl in the forest and take her back to the path… sure… but then she just runs back into the forest?! what the…?
      Find a boot? Ok.
      Start the camp fire, get a beer, get the wood-cutter’s hat (weird) and sit down.
      Even then, the walk home is rediculously long (she walks like an old woman with a walker). Not exactly fun.

      Ok, so not what I was under it was.. but I think that also points at a huge issue with the game, it’s not obvious wtf you have to do!
      Seriously, I played that game for about 5 hours and I thought it was just about collecting flowers.
      There is a good idea here, but its marred by bad implementation.

      So yes, I was incorrect with what I thought the gameplay was, but I still don’t like The Path from an enjoyment / accessibility / usability point of view, but I have a bit more respect for it.

  10. Rich says:

    Looks interesting. Without any humour, something that I’ve always felt crucial for a proper exploration of the human condition, it looks too emo.

  11. SquareWheel says:

    Purchased it just now. What exactly does the “file password” refer to on the purchase page? No archive is password protected, as far as I can tell.

  12. Saucy says:

    I think his beard is taking over his mind.

  13. TWeaK says:

    So anyone got any clues what the “special surprise” is?

  14. Danda says:

    I really hated The Path. I would recommend trying the demo first, because these “games” are not for everyone.

    • OldRat says:

      I’ve tried The Path and The Graveyard. My pretentiousness meter exploded and I found myself wanting to strangle a small animal afterwards. Someone might like these, and I can understand that, but I’ve found the only reply I have for these games is the oft-used phantom wank.

      In short, my opinion about these games is that they’re pretentious circlejerks trying, in vain, to be evocative, deep or artistic. I know it sounds a bit harsh, but it’s the most honest, sincere way I can put it.

  15. forestconrad says:

    bought it. I have a lot of sympathy for this company

  16. Nicaea says:

    I loved the Path. Loved the atmosphere and the fact that it asked me to actually think, to interpret, and piece things together and shape my own perspective.

  17. Navagon says:

    Thanks for the head’s up. I have The Path, but the others are intriguing.

  18. The Sombrero Kid says:

    this isn’t pay what you want, it’s $3 + tips. I’ve not played any of their games, but they seem to be trying to exploit peoples preconceptions of art, and in the process potentially under mining the art of all other games, this is certainly how i felt about braid which i did play.

  19. ideal casino says:

    I’m sure Tale of Tales thought they were being very deep. But “Don’t talk to strangers or you’ll get raped and beaten” is just the exact same message of the fairy tale regurgitated, with slightly more grindy flower-gathering.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      The fairy tale probably thought it was very deep but has, surely, only reiterated what people have been saying since the invention of rape (circa 1287) adding only surrealist imagery in a likely attempt to be more appealing to opium consumers.

    • Kast says:

      “Don’t talk to strangers or you’ll get raped and beaten” is only the simplest, thinnest interpretation of The Path. The prevailing interpretation amongst fans of Tale of Tales is about the symbolic deaths of successive periods of childhood as a person grows up, the seven Reds in fact representing elements of the same person.

      So, really, The Path is as deep as you, the player for want of a better word, choose to examine it.

  20. Tim says:

    I’m going to ignore everyone else who seems to be treating this kind act negatively and scream “I LOVE ALL THREE OF THESE AND I LOVE TALE OF TALES” repeatedly in the ears of strangers.

  21. toastmodernist says:

    some grade A trolling here.

  22. Gaytard Fondue says:

    A friend gifted me The Graveyard on Steam. I liked the part were the woman sat down on the bench…

  23. toastmodernist says:

    sorry, “trolling”.

  24. negativedge says:

    I will pay negative thirteen dollars and sixty-two cents

  25. clive dunn says:

    surely ‘Strolling’?

  26. Matzerath says:

    I love whenever ‘The Path’ is mentioned here. It really does piss people off so.
    Myself, I just wish they would redo it on the Unity engine, rather than that odd wonky engine that they were utilizing back then.

  27. j says:

    For all its flaws and the pretension of its creators, The Path is still a hell of an evocative game. The outdoor parts were so floaty and dreamlike, and while indoors it was pretty ugly it still managed to bring out some real “oh crap acid flashback” moments with the morphing rooms and so on. And the grandmother opening her eyes at the end always gave me a little chill, even though I knew it was coming.

    Now Fatale, that was just rubbish.

  28. jeremypeel says:

    Cheers for the heads up. Good to own this bunch, as I feel the need to at least have an opinion, if not a valuable experience.

  29. My opinion is terrible and I'm sorry says:

    Wow. I despised the Path, and I don’t really care about the Graveyard or the other one, but The Book of 8 looks really interesting. Hoping for a little more RPS coverage on that one as tiem progresses.

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