Path Out tells the autobiographical story of a Syrian refugee

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The first instalment of Path Out launches for free today, and the developers describe it as “an autobiographical adventure game that allows the players to replay the journey of Abdullah Karam, a young Syrian artist that escaped the civil war in 2014”. If the subject matter sounds off-puttingly serious, Causa Creations don’t describe Path Out as a relentlessly harrowing experience. They’ve sprinkled vlogs throughout the game, where Karam teases the player’s preconceptions and provides further insight into his story.

This first instalment begins with Karam’s decision to leave Syria when he turned 18, as staying would have meant being conscripted into the civil war and being forced to fight his own relatives. It then follows Karam’s trail from his hometown of Hama to the Turkish border, crossing through the war-torn Aleppo province. In a piece that’s worth reading in full, Eurogamer spoke to Karam and took a look at a previous demo version of the game.

“Being Syrian in the last seven years has been an unbearable burden,” he says, speaking to me by email. “People acknowledge the war, but we felt pretty much left alone for a long time, with so many nations closing their borders. ‘What have we done to this world?’ was always a question that came up. I feel like people don’t know enough about us, who we are, why we had to leave Syria, and that’s why I decided to to make something where I can speak for my people and let everyone knows how it feels to be Syrian.”

It’s clear that Karam sees his game as part of the fight against the anti-refugee narrative that pervades much of the western world. It makes sense: the interactive nature of gaming makes it a powerful medium for placing yourself in the shoes of another person. It’s a shame that the people who most need to play Path Out are the ones who will most likely never touch it. Karam continues:

“There is a lot of fear and paranoia going around [in Europe], portraying us as a vile, orthodox-religious and uncivilised bunch that just can’t decide which terrorist outlet to join. In reality, Syria is much closer to the west. Yes, it was never a real democracy, but our daily lives don’t differ much from the average westerner. Yes, we might follow different religions, but in the end, we are faced with the same urgent existential questions: PC or console?”

Future instalments of Path Out aren’t confirmed, but the devs suggest that they could “take the player on Abdullah’s journey through Turkey, Greece and the Balkans until he finally arrives at his destination and current whereabouts in Central Europe.”

Path Out is out now for free on Itch.io, and will hit Steam later today.

16 Comments

  1. MercuryLegba says:

    Hey folks, thanks for the article, I’m one of the developers. Just a quick heads up concerning Steam: We are currently experience a really odd bug in the Steam store, since the game is out, but there is no download button … I highly recommend just to get the game from the good folks on itch.io for now, while we await what Valve does about their server problem. link to causacreations.itch.io

  2. Kollega says:

    I have to say… I do wonder about the authenticity of this game/story. Specifically, the part that touches on consumer electronics :P

    See, I live in Kazakhstan – it’s doing much better than Syria so far, thank goodness, but it’s still a stereotypical third-world country these days. And I’m lucky enough to have had a computer in my home since I was a kid. And the thing is… here, the answer to the harrowing existential question of “console or PC?” is “PC all time, every time, except where Ratchet & Clank is concerned and maybe not even then”. The PC as a gaming device is just so much more versatile, can be used for so many other tasks, and has so much free or easily-pirated content, that consoles look somewhat unappealing; even if you get a modded console that can play pirate discs, you still have to buy one. Often for an outrageous price. Or even import the damn thing yourself. Meanwhile, a shabby PC is cheap enough to build and can run the less-demanding games. That’s why it seems to be the better pick in a developing country/third-world gaming situation. At least from what I saw.

    So I guess what I’m asking is… was it really that easy to buy a console, and console games, in Syria before this whole mess happened?

    • MercuryLegba says:

      The answer is: yes! The “console or PC” saying is also a metaphor that emphasizes that some Syrians are as busy with such questions as Danish, Germans, Polish, Russian, Mexican or Swiss kids. But I can put you in touch with Abdullah, if you want to hear the details.

      • Kollega says:

        I did in fact understand the primary/metaphorical intention of pointing out that Syria isn’t merely a “desert dictatorship” or “bombed-out wasteland” that people stereotype it as, and that many people there would have the proverbial “first-world problems” like picking what to play video games on. But I felt like inanely questioning the literal side of this statement fits well with the established RPS traditions – so go figure :P

      • Shaque says:

        MercuryLegba please do put me in touch with the developer. I work with ANA Press (a pro-democracy, grassroots medium) and we’d love to cover the game.

        shakeeb[at]abstractmindz[dot]com

  3. parsley says:

    Oh, this sounds awesome. I’ll definitely check it out on itch.io!

  4. Eightball says:

    >It’s clear that Karam sees his game as part of the fight against the anti-refugee narrative that pervades much of the western world.

    Why doesn’t Karam go to the non-western world? Surely they could use bright lads like him, right? Surely China, or Vietnam, or South Korea, or Botswana, or Guyana, or any number of non-racist countries would love to have GDP-boosting innovators like Syrian refugees, right?

    • Premium User Badge

      Ghostbird says:

      Because, like many other people, he thinks fighting prejudice makes a better world for everybody?

      My mother was a refugee, so I find it a bit sad watching the “legitimate concerns” crawl out of the woodwork at the first mention of the word, but I take comfort from the thought that it’s mainly driven by ignorance. And that, after all, is one of the things the game is trying to address.

    • bill says:

      I can’t speak for Karam, but most do.
      “Ten Countries host about half the world’s refugees: Jordan, which has taken in more than 2.7 million people, was named as the top refugee hosting country, followed by Turkey, over 2.5 million; Pakistan, 1.6 million; and Lebanon, more than 1.5 million. The other top six nations were Iran, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad”
      Note that none of those are “western” countries, and most are poorer and much less developed and less able to support so many refugees. But they sure as hell don’t whine about it as much as the poor europeans/americans!

      Plus, I’m going to assume that Karam doesn’t speak Chinese or Korean or Vietnamese, but he probably speaks English. He also probably doesn’t know much about those countries, and I have no idea how you expect him to actually get to any of them from Syria.

    • Dewal says:

      I can’t decide if Eightball is actually asking the refugees to go elsewhere (in which case everyone answered him correctly) or if he was merely being sarcastic in answer to the “anti-refugee narrative that pervades much of the western world” part. I know that some of the countries in the east he listed are pretty hard on immigrants.

      In which case I’d answer that, sure, europeans countries aren’t the only places where refugees aren’t welcome (welcoming a lot of poor people with a different culture at once is never easy). But that doesn’t mean that the developers don’t have the right to mainly target these countries with their game if they, themselves, live there.

      So you don’t really have to feel sensitive about it, as if you were specifically accused of being more xenophobe than others (that’s not the case here).

      • puppybeard says:

        Yep, “this country is also bad, or worse” doesn’t mean we shouldn’t examine our own states. There’s a lot of very unfair stuff in EU law regarding asylum seekers, unfair to the affected, and also unfair to member states who take a disproportionately large part of the burden.

        I’m Irish, and we take an embarassingly low number of asylum seekers, and a system called “Direct Provision” where people wait years on a decision while living in semi-prison conditions where they have reduced rights and can’t plan any kind of life.

    • puppybeard says:

      Short version for those who can’t be arsed, the video makes the case “Improving economic outcome in country x is ultimately a better result than people from country x emigrating en masse to countries a through to h”

      This ground-breaking revelation is as original and surprising as it is relevant to a war refugee situation.

      It’s as if people put survival before macroeconomics.

    • whaleboy says:

      Relevant link to the uploaders of the video and their motivation: link to en.wikipedia.org

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