Facing Adulthood the Hard Way (The Path)

“Every life is a march from innocence, through temptation, to virtue or vice. -Lyman Abbott


What is innocence? According to Webster’s dictionary, the word “innocence” is defined as “Freedom from guilt or sin through being unacquainted with evil.” In this state, one can easily be manipulated by the allures of temptation, and remain ignorant of the potential hazards. To avoid these consequences, all one has to do is steer clear of the negative indulgences and remain completely naïve. Easy right? But with all of the irresistible temptations surrounding us, is this really possible? Can anyone really remain innocent? This post is about a horror game called The Path, which is basically an exaggerated Little Red Riding Hood story where the main characters get themselves into some pretty dark situations while wandering in the woods. The point of this game is to intentionally defy orders and take the necessary risks to discover what the real world is like. The award-winning game is available on the Tale of Tale’s website, both the free demo and the $10 game itself, and I encourage everyone to give it a shot! (Warning: The violence in the game may not be direct, but it is implied that there is murder and rape and it can get pretty scary…seriously, don’t play it at night in the dark!)

Lyman Abbott’s quote explains how innocence is only a short period of time, and facing temptations that stray us from the path of innocence is inevitable. The Path, provides us with a visual representation of this downfall of innocence period. Much like the original Little Red Riding Hood, this story consists of the same morals, “Don’t talk to strangers, and don’t stray from the path.” However, if one digs below the surface and examines the underlying implications, it is revealed that there are messages about sex and maturity. Just like in the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the concepts in The Path have a much more in-depth meaning. The game’s user manual describes it as a “Slow Game,” one in which “the Player has all the freedom in the world to explore and experience.” Each element of the game, from the girls’ exaggerated movements, to the carefree, seemingly useless girl in white, must be taken into account. If one doesn’t thoroughly examine any of the underlying connotations, then the game becomes a lackluster tale about 6 stubborn girls who went into the woods, put themselves in danger, and paid the consequences for it.

The game opens with the 6 sisters standing in a room, waiting for the player to select one of them. The sisters, Robin, Rose, Ginger, Ruby, Carmen, and Scarlett represent innocence before its demise. The 3 younger sisters, Robin, Rose, and Ginger, are completely carefree and have no intention of growing up, according to dialogue such as “I’m a kid, I’m a kid. And I play and I play, in my little way! Buy me now at discount prices!” and childish activities like blowing things up. However, the 3 older sisters, Scarlett, Carmen, and Ruby are not afraid to grow up; Scarlett aspires to further her musical skills, Ruby invites the idea of getting older to die sooner and end her suffering, and Carmen just wants older male attention. Later in the game, after wandering in the forest, the girls stumble upon the villains known as “wolves.” The younger sisters’ wolves,  are centered around their reluctance to face adulthood, while the older sister’s wolves reveal to them the possible hazards of already being an adult.

The player is sent on a voyage unique to the character they select on the menu screen. Each character starts off on a path and only given the text telling them to “Go to Grandmother’s house…and stay on the path.” Because of the boring nature of staying on this path, the player walking away from it into the woods is likely. In fact, leaving this trail is encouraged by the game since if the player does as they are instructed and they arrive shamefully unscathed at Grandma’s house, they are greeted with a lovely “FAILURE” screen. This failure screen is basically telling the player that they failed to do something extremely important in the game, (which I will mention later.) Once in the woods, the sisters stumble upon a few objects that interest them and help further their personalities. For example, Robin finds a shopping cart and jumps in pretending to be a doll, showing her childishness, and Ginger finds a tree which she uses to survey the land from a higher ground, showing her anxiety toward being snuck up on. Once their weaknesses are revealed through these items, the player is sort of foreshadowed as to what sort of “wolf” the character will encounter.

The wolves in this game are not literal forest wolves; they are in fact, symbols of temptation. For the most part, the wolves appear in the shape of humans and appear normal to the girls (except Robin who encounters a literal werewolf and Rose who encounters a human-shaped cloud of fog.) Once the player interacts with these wolves, there’s no turning back.

One of the questions one may ask after arriving at grandma’s house without encountering the wolf is, “Why did I fail if I followed the instructions by staying on the path?” The answer is simple; the girls didn’t learn anything about life and they remained ignorant. By meeting their wolves, the girls are facing themselves, their fears, and their immaturity head on. When these dark entities are met, they become adults because they discover that the world isn’t as pleasant and colorful as they thought it was. Robin learned that there are dangers to assuming that nothing bad could ever happen to a child. Rose, Scarlett, and Carmen learned that one could be easily tricked and manipulated by the need to fulfill one’s desires. Ginger learned that one must grow up and mature whether they want to or not. Ruby learned that there are cons to wanting to be accepted, and if one is not careful, they could lose themselves and become completely different people. I think what all of the girls learned is that not everyone in the world can be trusted. This is why it can only be a success in this game if you get raped, killed or whatever happens, because only then is the character able to learn the truth and not remain in grandma’s shadow.

(There is A LOT to be analyzed in this game, and there can be many interpretations. This is just my viewpoint.)

Picture 3


Sources: Tale of Tales,Dictionary,Lyman Abbott Quote,FeatureImage, Image2,Image3, Image4,Screenshots


  6 comments for “Facing Adulthood the Hard Way (The Path)

  1. February 13, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    This sounds like a really interesting concept for a game. A lot of games focus on making the right decisions, as is evident in games with multiple endings or simulation games, but in a way having a “good” ending is hardly accurate. Although life requires us to make a certain amount of responsible choices, sometimes the safest choice is the wrong one. In both real life and videogames, the key to innovation is venturing outside of one’s comfort level to gain new perspectives. “The Path” demonstrates this perfectly; walking to Grandma’s house isn’t inherently the right choice, and straying from the path isn’t necessarily wrong. Effectively, this game teaches players that, in all stages of life, we will be offered a set of equally-viable choices, and that it is our responsibility to learn from them no matter the outcome.

  2. Bekka
    February 13, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    This is an interesting take on a classic fairytale. The fact that there are six different girls and six different stories allows the game to showcase different stages of growing up, and that you still have things to learn as you get older. We never really stop learning in life, do we? I also find this interesting when compared to other games. In many games you may be allowed to leave the path laid out for you, but there’s rarely something incredibly important waiting for you when you stray. You must eventually go back and stick to the path to reach your goal and ultimately succeed or ‘win’. It’s intriguing that The Path forces you to stray from the path in order to succeed. As in real life, following the safest route rarely gives you a chance to grow as a person. Dark and has a message, sounds like my kind of game. I’ll definitely have to check this out!

  3. mburns25
    February 14, 2013 at 3:16 am

    Wow. I have never heard of this game but this concept is fascinating; it definitely breaks the stereotype of a typical videogame. In relationship to what we’ve discussed in class, I’d say it’s relevant since it’s a game that allows the player to choose and make decisions, and learn the consequences of doing so; as well as being very realistic in relationship to the violence associated with said consequences. From what I read, it seems that this game is definitely an artistic game that is trying to send a message rather than a game that is played to win.

    I’m definitely going to have to check this game out and try it myself! A question I have for you is where did you find/hear about this game? I’m most curious.

    • February 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      That’s right! I forgot to mention that it’s related to games like One Chance because it creates enough empathy to make the player not even want the girls to go through this torture. Seriously! Directing a little girl right into the hands of a rapist??

      Oh, and I heard about it last year in Whalen’s “Electronic Media” class. That was the first time I played it and I was honestly terrified to progress…So I ended up passing the game to someone else to make THEM pay the price rather than me!

  4. Jonathan H.
    February 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    This games looks really cool. This type of game makes people think about their lives and how they are living it. This game could be an influential game towards people. Not only is it doing that they also changes the goody, goody story of Little Red Riding Hood into a dark malevolent story that most people would have never interpreted. This game looks very interesting and the outcomes of the choices may have different interesting outcomes.

  5. Chelsea
    February 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    I played this game in Dr. Whalen’s E Lit class too! As everyone else said I love the different interpretation of the “Red Riding Hood” narrative and the uncertainty of what is right and wrong.

    I’m interested in what everyone thinks about the role of gender in this game. I know we have been talking in class about the role of females in games and how they tend to fall into certain archetypes such as damsel in distress. In this game one might be inclined to think the females are empowered because they are the player characters and are able to make their own decisions. However one could also argue that they are still weak because they all struggle with maturity and/or fall victim to the masculine wolf character. Is the portrayal of the females in this game an honest depiction of growing up/loss of innocence or is it another example of their stereotyped weakness?

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