Difficult one, this. If I’d come to The Path totally cold I really don’t know what I would have made of it; as it is, there were several good articles and interesting debates over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun around the time of release. The Steam page says: “The Path is a game about growing, about changing, about making choices, about accepting the consequences of these choices. A game about playing, and failing, about embracing life, perhaps by accepting death.” I say: it’s not exactly a game, more an “interactive experience” or “downloadable installation piece” or “experiential user-controlled unstructured narrative conveyance” or perhaps “Neville”, if you prefer. Once again one of the RPS collective does it full justice in a Eurogamer review, and perhaps the key phrase I’d slightly out-of-context-edly extract from that is: “It’s totally no fun. It’s interesting, but there isn’t a fun bone in its mopey body.” Not really what I was after when unwinding of an evening; still, I fired it up for a bit of a wander around the forest, and hit something of a problem in that the laptop couldn’t cope very well and juddered through the introduction (the systems requirements do specify “no integrated graphics”). Turning all the graphics options down rendered it almost playable, but it still juddered and stuttered during interactions, which robbed any atmosphere that was building up. I’ll try and give it another go on my main PC sometime, perhaps at two in the morning when sleep deprivation is starting to kick in to give it more of an unreal vibe (not an Unreal vibe, though, I’m not sure a voiceover of “MULTI-KILL!” and “RAMPAGE!” would entirely be in keeping with the spirit of the game).
I’m glad something like The Path is out there, pushing boundaries, exploring the meaning of games n’ all that, but it’s not something I’d go out and buy, though £7.25 seems reasonable enough if it’s your bag. That’s one of the nice things about the multi-game pack, it gives you the opportunity to try things you wouldn’t normally bother with (even if only to confirm your preconceptions). Overall: the stuttering idea of a thumb in a forest at an indistinguishable angle.