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."