A new take on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood
When you start the game, you are able to choose one of six characters, all young girls: Rose, Ruby, Robin, Carmen, Ginger, and Scarlet. The game is based on older versions of Little Red Riding Hood, which tended to be a bit darker.
Whomever you choose first, your goal is to go through the woods to grandmother’s house. Seems simple enough, right? The game warns you to stay on the path, which goes directly through the forest. If you do end up straying from the path, however, you will end up visiting various locations and encountering other characters, some benign, some not. There is some overlap, but different characters can visit different locations.
You start off with bread and wine in your inventory to bring to grandma’s house, but there are other items you can collect on the way. There are unlockables in the game, but it’s never anything straightforward. A map screen, another room in grandma’s house.
The creators have said, “We wanted to keep the idea of being confused, and being weak, of being victimized on the one hand, but also being attracted to danger, and even being cruel on the other hand.”
Tale of Tales is a game development company consisting of Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn, whose games have been called “art games,” “slow games,” and “anti-games.” The Graveyard came out a year before The Path, and it consisted of you wandering arounding a graveyard as an old woman. The only difference between the free demo and the full version was that she could die of natural causes in the full version; in the demo, she would only sit down and then leave the graveyard. Takayoshi Sato, who created the characters and CGI cutscenes for the first two Silent Hill games, joined them as character designer for their game Fatale.
Understandably, these types of game were not for everyone. Some complained about the slowness, or the lack of plot (or open-endedness of the story, if it was there). However, I found The Path to have interesting character development in the form of showing the different girls’ thoughts as on-screen text, and it had a very open type of exploration. If you explore, you are rewarded by finding interesting objects or other people in the forest, as well as more scenes in the grandmother’s house at the end.
All of this goes back to the various forms of the Red Riding Hood story, and the overall theme of either staying on the path (safe, but uninteresting) or wandering into the forest (interesting, beautiful, but also dangerous).
I also appreciate the stylized nature of the characters and scenery. With so much focus on photorealism in games in recent years, it was refreshing to see a game where the developer’s personal style was apparent. My favorite thing about the game, visually, is the forest itself. The colors used for the scenery and objects are a feast for the eyes and show great use of color. It is one of the most artistic games I have seen in the past decade.