The Path: Robin

By Shamus
on Sep 7, 2009
Filed under:
Game Reviews

Robin is the youngest of the girls. Here is her bio from the website:

Robin is nine years old. A very lively child. She loves playing in the forest. Only on the path, of course. Mother tells her to never go into the woods. She never says why. Robin thinks there may by fun things to play with in the forest. She sometimes hears the creaking sounds of what seems to be a swing! Or the howl of a wolf in the distance! Robin likes wolves. They are her favorite kind of animal!

The “nine years old” thing confuses me. She looks and acts much younger. I would put her in the six or seven range, myself. At any rate, Robin’s journey is really interesting because it contrasts her perception of the world with our own. She encounters the wolf in the graveyard. Her wolf is an actual wolf, or a wolf-man. At one point in her journey she comments that “Wolves are just dogs.” In another she comments that she wants something “big and cuddly”. This desire becomes dangerous when mixed with the earlier misconception.

Robin seems oblivious to the danger we can see so clearly. She sits down and digs in the dirt of a grave, not because she’s trying to be macabre, but because it’s dirt and that’s what kids do with dirt. She doesn’t “get” death just yet.

Robin’s Wolf

Ah. The rapture and joy of our foolish notions.
Ah. The rapture and joy of our foolish notions.
Her entire adventure is a contrast between her perception and ours. She sees the woods as a big playground. We see it as a place of danger. She sees wolves as big and cuddly (probably because she likes cuddling dogs) and we see them as child-rending carnivores. She sees a grave as a patch of soft dirt, and we see it as… well, it’s a grave.

She meets this big, dangerous-looking wolf, climbs up on his back, and rides him around. Fade to black.

When I was eleven, I regularly walked along a slightly out-of-the-way side street. The road was technically open to cars, but it was so narrow most people mistook it for a driveway. I liked it because there was a great big house nestled back in there behind a wall of “ten-foot high” bushes. I could only see glimpses of the house through slender little gaps in the wall, but it was large and white and the grounds were well-groomed. The fact that this fancy house seemed to be hiding in the middle of an otherwise middle-class neighborhood gave the place an air of mystery. One day a pair of dogs rushed out from between the bushes and barred my path. I froze. I’d never seen dogs act this way. They growled, lowering their heads. They weren’t just annoyed at the “intruder”, they were actively threatening to attack.

The owner walked over and spoke to the dogs, and they turned and left. I’d suddenly learned that dogs could be frightening and dangerous.

At the time I was grateful to the owner for “saving” me from his or her (can’t remember if it was a man or a woman) dogs. A quarter century later I can look back and see that the owner of that house was a complete ass. What’s with letting a couple of trained guard dogs run free with no leash to harass pedestrians? What’s with letting them run into the side street like you owned it? What’s with being in no particular hurry to pull them off of some kid? And how about an apology, you arrogant dunce?

Wow. A twenty-six-year delayed rant. Funny how different things look from here.

So what happened to Robin? My first impression was that she had an experience very much like the one I had. Once your parents give you a little more leash there’s bound to be a few lessons in why you were on a leash to begin with.

But during her walk to grandma’s house after meeting the wolf, her arms are limp and she seems to be sleepwalking. Which suggests a state of maybe not being altogether not dead. In the trip through grandma’s house, she comes to a room where there seems to be a birthday party ahead. We can see balloons and tables set up in the next room, but just before we reach the party we make an abrupt turn for the basement, where an open grave awaits. Boo.

Then again, these house images are deliberately trying to spook the player. It’s the equivalent of holding a flashlight under your face while you tell a ghost story. Then again again, that symbolism with the birthday party was pretty clear cut: Her next birthday party was ahead of her, and she didn’t make it.

Either way, I think she was undone by her own innocence. I think her wolf was a wolf, which she treated like a dog.

Aftermath

Well, not much of an aftermath for her if she was killed. But assuming these stories are all just metaphors of growing up, then she learned a lesson a lot like mine: Outside your front door is a whole wide world of stuff trying to consume and steal from one another in order to get by, and when you walk out there you’re buying into the deal.

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From the Archives:

  1. You are much better at interpreting the various stories in the Path, than I have been.

    I played through Robin’s story twice, because I was so confused by it the first time.

    Wait until you get to the gal with the rowboat and the spinning person. That made noooooooooo sense.

    Leslee

  2. Davin Valkri says:

    Maybe her story is the one that’s supposed to run closest to the Red Riding Hood story most of us remember from childhood? The dress, the wolf she doesn’t recognize as such(“My, what big teeth you have, Grandma!”), the fact that she might have gotten killed and eaten?

  3. equinox216 says:

    Having neither played the game, nor planning to, based on the various descriptions I’ve seen so far I’ve got to say that it sounds like the Rorschach blot of the gaming world.

  4. Spider Dave says:

    Hit the nail on the head, Shamus. It’s hard to imagine this interpreted a different way, but I’m excited to see if anyone did!

  5. UtopiaV1 says:

    I’m still in limbo whether to get this game or not. I hear widely conflicting reviews, ranging from “It’s good, but it’s not a game in the sense of the word” to “It’s a crap game” (with no further discussion. I hate those types of ‘reviews’). These interpretations are really fun to read, but all I need to know is – is it fun to play?

    But going back to the original thread, Robins’ story seems to be the most straightforward one, albeit one of the more morbid. This game and Deus Ex 2: Invisible War are probably the only two games in the world where children are killed by the player (either directly or indirectly). So apparently games programmers do draw a line somewhere :P

    • Shamus says:

      UtopiaV1: The original Fallout games also allowed for child-killing, although there was never any in-game quest or motivation to do so. Well, it earned you a reputation as a child killer, which carried some negative consequences.

  6. Legal Tender says:

    Reposting something from a few threads ago:

    @ Shamus: Do you think it would be possible to put one huge *SPOILERS* sign across your various entries on The Path ? I have avoided them because even though I know they are not technically spoilers I have the impression that one should go into this one with as little external input as possible so as to get the most out of the experience.

    Maybe put something that says: THIS IS GOOD. GO AND PLAY IT. THINK ABOUT IT. COME BACK AND DISCUSS. Or something, know what I mean? For the sake of your new (and ‘casual’) readers?

  7. Rosseloh says:

    I really like your interpretations, Shamus. It’s letting me “enjoy” a game that sounds really interesting, even though I’m too much of a cheapskate to buy it.

  8. Spider Dave says:

    You must be a cheapskate with a $10 price tag!

  9. Rosseloh says:

    Indeed. School payments win out over games, however.

  10. Mithras says:

    Very interesting. I don’t understand why the grave is so quickly interpreted to mean death.
    Myself I associate the grave more with fear and sorrow. The image of the party and the grave at the end could very well mean a fear of growing up (And or old) Perhaps even the fear of losing someone dear to you, another association with the wolf. Robin see’s it as a play mate but the rest of the world see’s something dangerous to her. So they are seperated and the she can’t understand why.

    The scene with the gravestone in the actual woods seems to me to show an ignorance of death, which means I see the scene at the end as a realisation of the realities of life (i.e. that it ends.) And not just as “She died”

    It might pay to consider each image from as many differant viewpoints as possible in this game, which is hard considering once you get one idea in your head it’s hard to dislodge it. Maybe I found the hidden challenge withing this work of art! Keeping an open mind. :p
    Just my two pennies.

    Oh and Shamus, would it be possible for you to put a list of the items you collected in the forest (and perhaps the scenes that they unlock)And how you interprit them? This game seems to be the sort of thing that encourages minute attention to detail.

  11. Sheer_FALACY says:

    It’s interesting that you comment on each of their walks. I never noticed that the end walk was different for each one – mainly I noticed that it was very, very slow (though the gate is closer every time).

  12. Kiwipolish says:

    I actually interpreted Robin’s wolf as metaphorical, which is funny because I pretty much interpreted everyone else literally. Even when Robin’s wolf is the easiest to take literally, and all the others less so. >.>

    I’m not sure what to make of how the wolf behaves. It’s a big scary wolf, but it seems more frightened than she is. It runs around, shaking her to try and throw her off, and constantly looks at her in the “Oh god, is she still there?” fashion. Then, after shaking a whole lot, it turns into a werewolf. It walks calmly up to a big white tree.

    In the ending montage, I noted all the marks on her doors were that same white of the tree. They looked like claw marks originally, but on closer inspection they seemed like skeletal hands, so I paid it no mind. But when it got to the flashing images at the end, I paused the video on Youtube about a million times to get a good look at them all. The claw slashes from the wolf were that same color too. If you look at the images closely, you get (not in order) several images of Robin with the white slashes, the wolf nipping her hood in its teeth and pulling it off, and a strange image of her twisty looking legs. In the walk home, she’s missing her hood, and the way she walks looks like her neck is broken. I’m not sure if Robin is meant to be alive, and having learned that death is very real, or actually dead.

    I interpreted her “wolf”, then, to have been the tree. The “wolf” trying to shake her off was wind in the branches, which shook her until she fell. The “claws” were the branches that tore her on the way down. As she fell, her hood got caught in the branches and torn off.

    Of course, the underlying message is *exactly* the same, so there’s not much point to this interpretation except that there’s no such thing as werewolves. :P

  13. Nova says:

    That’s weird; I interpreted it as someone close to her – maybe a sister or a close friend (represented by the wolf) as having died. The way I saw it, she didn’t quite understand death, and she was having problems ‘letting go’, hence why the wolf kept trying to get free and shake her off. The birthday party scene looked more like one from which she should have been sharing it with someone?

  14. Groboclown says:

    @Shamus: I, too, have thought Robin’s personality more like a 5-6 year old’s.

    I personally find it interesting to compare the house with and without the wolf. If you complete the girl’s path, with all the “secret rooms” revealed, you can see the differences between the two (“success” and “failure” endings).

    In both of Robin’s endings, she sees the birthday party (with 3 candles in the cake), inside a cage, with a rocking chair on top of the cage. She also passes a cradle, though the contents are different between the success and failure endings (I can’t make out the differences, though).

    As for the wolf, I almost saw that sequence as a father giving a kid a piggy back ride.

  15. Vegedus says:

    I downloaded the demo for the Path, one in which you play a nameless girl in white. I completed it 5 minutes later, since I found my unable to let go of the controller for more than a minute or run the girl of the path. Now I don’t want to buy the game, since there’d be no point. I dunno if that’s a testament to the games power, or to me being easily scared by horror games.

  16. Maldeus says:

    Robin’s story may be the easiest to interpret, and it may be the ease of interpretation that’s throwing us off. After all, Robin is the youngest, and thus most likely the starting point for any given player (if I were playing the game, I’d play them in chronological order, ’cause I’m kind of OCD about things like that). And the game has absolutely no challenge in terms of gameplay. The game is in interpreting the events seen on screen, not manipulating them, so quite possibly Robin’s story is meant to be fairly obvious, as a warm-up to other, more difficult stories.

    I can’t make out what’s in the cradle from the YouTube, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Robin has actually, honestly died. She isn’t just near a gravestone, she actually falls into the grave itself, plus her animations are positively corpselike, plus her encounter was with an inherently dangerous creature. This isn’t like the woodsman, where he had the potential to kill Carmen but showed no signs of doing so. This is a wolf. If someone jumps on it, it’s going to do its level best to make sure it never does so again.

    I watched the ending on YouTube before the interpretation (most of it, at least, I got bored and flipped over during the corpse-walk to grandma’s house), but my immediate reaction to Robin’s wolf was “She’s about to get a healthy fear of both wolves and death.”

    Also, on the age thing, they have each girl separated by two years, so to make Robin seven they’d have to make a new girl to fill the nine-year old gap.

    Hang on, hang on, I’m about to start contradicting myself because a thought just occurred to me, and I don’t want to delete the first two paragraphs.

    First room: Cradle.

    Second room: Birthday.

    Final room: Grave.

    Cradle to grave. Birth. Life. Death. The cycle of life…Momento Mori.

  17. Sean Riley says:

    Darn it! I just lost my whole post to the back button curse.

    Shorter version: I agree with Maldeus. I think there’s two stories to the path; each individual girl’s story (in this case, Robin is a young girl whose curiosity and naivity about wolves did her in, in a very literal sense. This goes pretty hand in hand with Shamus’s interpretation.

    But note that she passes through the birthday room. If she died before that room, wouldn’t you turn away from it to the grave?

    I prefer to think of the game as a whole, with each ‘sister’ actually a different point in life/aspect of a single life. Robin’s wolf is the understanding of her own mortality. It’s that first moment when you realise you won’t go on forever. This is what drives the death imagery at the end.

  18. Dierin says:

    Maldeus: Er, memento mori? Or did you change that on purpose?

  19. Maldeus says:

    Eh, I can’t spell sometimes. The latin phrase for “remember you will die,” however that’s spelled.

  20. mookers says:

    Just a side note on the dog thing: I used to ride my bicycle a lot when I was young, and I reserve a special kind of loathing for owners of scary dogs who allow them to run after and scare the crap out of cyclists riding past their house.

  21. Uncle Festy says:

    “Which suggests a state of maybe not being altogether not dead.”
    Double negative huh?

  22. Sho says:

    Yeah “Memento mori”, means “Remember you will die”. It just means to be aware of your own mortality, which Robin isn’t really before her walk.

    Anyways. I’m not sure I get the “she died” interpretation. The (were)wolf seems far too unthreatening. Scary, but it seems to ignore Robin until she jumps onto it. Then it doesn’t even try very hard to throw her off. There’s a contrast there somewhere, I know it. In any case I’m loathe to consider it a literal wolf encounter so much as just another metaphor of a bad animal experience. Not with a vicious animal, but with a mostly tame animal that simply takes issue with having its tail pulled (for example).

    And the grave just struck me as a message of “Well, now you get what that patch of dirt is for.”

  23. Btw, in case anyone is interested here is Robin’s ending:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws39mWyFjEQ

    I also think the girl died. If falling into an open grave is not a metaphor for dying, then I don’t know what is. Well, other than the cloud zombie thing maybe.

    Also, who wants to bet that Shamus is purposefully keeping the cloud zombie analysis for the very end to keep us guessing? :)

  24. Maldeus says:

    @Sho 23: The wolf is about as threatening as the engine allows, I think. It growls threateningly and runs around manically when you (for some stupid, stupid reason) jump onto it (okay, I get it, you like wolves, but have you no survival instinct at all?!). The imagery at the end of the grandma’s house sequence implies that Robin at least thought the wolf was trying to harm her.

  25. Sean Riley says:

    @Maldeus

    I disagree. There’s got to be a reason, symbolically, for climbing onto the Wolf.

    Since the Wolf in this case represents Death, could climbing onto it represent Robin’s acceptance of it? Literally, she’s ‘on board’ with the Wolf at this point. She’s carried by Death. Just like all of us.

  26. Spider Dave says:

    Or maybe she climbed on because she didnt understand it. I dont think she learns about death until inbetween the scene and when she gets to Grandma’s.
    Learning about death is something all little kids do. I’ve noticed from watching TV for 20 years, that parents tend to lie to their kids about death. (Rover went to the farm while you were at camp)

    We are born, we grow up, and then we die, and it happens to everyone. This is a good theme for one of the girls, though I do agree that she should be a bit younger.

  27. Dear Reader says:

    oh god their faces

  28. Merle says:

    Outside your front door is a whole wide world of stuff trying to consume and steal from one another in order to get by, and when you walk out there you’re buying into the deal.

    Perhaps…but a large chunk of human nature, what we consider to be our most positive traits, center around denying and changing that very thing. The default state of the world is nasty, brutish and bloody, but everything humanity aspires to strives against that ground state.

    Anyhow, I’m enjoying your reviews, but I am not sure if I will buy this game…I’m not all that fond of exercises in interpretation. And odds are that I wouldn’t actually leave the path unless forced to.

  29. Avilan the Grey says:

    Personally I really hope we are not to take this literary; in that case this would be even creepier than the “rape simulation” thingy (which I do not believe in, btw so no need for flaming or banning or deleting):

    If the only way to “succeed” with this 9-should-be-6 year or girl is to get her killed on purpose, that would be REALLY bad, IMHO.

  30. BritishDan says:

    @Avilan – While I subscribe to the “the game represents the various losses of innocence in a single person’s life” theory, let’s assume that it is meant to be taken literally and that Robin died. How bad is it really?

    Well for starters, you don’t kill her, you ARE her. There is a big difference between playing as Rambo and killing helpless children, and playing as helpless children and getting in too deep.

    In fact that might be an extremely powerful metaphor in it’s own right. In games we are often expected to treat everyone’s death as a Very Serious Event, except our own. Think of Final Fantasy and Aeris’s death. What were the odds that by the time it occurred, the player had already died dozens of times, just to reload?

    Let’s take that a step further and say that in video games, players are encouraged to experiment and we perceive the dangers for doing so as rather low (just reload!). As players, we literally ARE Robin. We see a wolf in the woods and our first instinct is not to hide, but to go up and interact with it. We want to see what it does, and we *know* that it poses no real danger to us!

    In games we act like children, with a natural curiosity and little to no fear. Someone else pointed out that Robin is a natural choice for your first adventure into the woods, perhaps the developers were counting on that to shock the player into seriously re-thinking their perceptions of how games work, in the same way that a child’s view of the world sharply changes once they start to comprehend the danger it can pose.

    And to go one step even further, there are plenty of artistic renderings that involve the death of children, in film, literature and music. Some of it is very highly critically acclaimed (i.e. Grave of the Fireflies, which Robert Ebert said was the most powerful anti-war film he’s ever seen). I’d argue that if this scene is indeed about Robin’s death, that it’s not treated in a disrespectful manner and isn’t alarming or controversial in the least.

  31. Gabe Glick says:

    Following up on BritishDan’s response to Avilan:

    “A [game] is not what it is about; it is how it is about it.”

    (by Roger Ebert, originally in regards to movies, and used here not without a touch of irony)

  32. Avilan the Grey says:

    @BritishDan:

    Sorry, I don’t agree. But then again, as I said before, I have a problem with Art, most of the time. Plus the argument that we “are” Robin… If I understand this correctly the controls in this game are not of the type to encourage that idea. It is more of an extremely remote sensation, from the reviews I have read, since the controls are not only cumbersome, but very indirect.
    I can believe that we are supposed to be *inside Robin’s head*, but I fail to see anything immerse enough about this game that it would provoke a feeling of *I AM Robin*.

    And even if your idea is correct, to commit suicide is still to get someone killed. Yourself. And since the game apparently tells you you fail if you do not meet the wolf, you are still getting an innocent girl killed *on purpose*.

    Yes I know, in FO1 and FO2 I can even get a nice little Perk for killing enough kids. In FO3 I can nuke an entire town. To me though that is entirely different. In those games, if you go that route, you are in fact taking on an Evil persona on purpose, as an active choice. Here a supposedly “open” and “artsy” game still lecture you about how to play it, which in itself makes me not playing it.

    (I have no experience with the FF games; I get allergic reactions to JRPGs).

    As for violent movies, showing violence realistically: Good. War is hell, and all that. It was a nice surprise when the Headless Horseman killed the young boy in Sleepy Hollow; I have never been a fan of kids getting Plot Armor. But to me, this is entirely different, because you have to *deliberately hurt the girls in order to not fail the game*.

  33. Groboclown says:

    @Avilan the Grey:

    I’m going to argue with your point about this game telling you to play it one way. The game tells you to stay on the path, and go right to gramma’s house. It does not say, “Hey, go off the path and explore the forest and get accosted by a wolf image.” Yes, there’s all that “failure” / “success” message stuff on the end screen, but you have to go against one of the game’s messages to get one, and go against another to get the other.

    My time with the game involved: directly using the phone for one or two girls (that got old fast). Then, go directly to gramma’s house with each girl. Then, collect all the items and play with all the things in the forest, without interacting with the wolf, then going to gramma’s house, for each girl. Now, I’m starting to have the girls go off to their wolf.

    To me, the creepiest part was exploring the forest without the wolf. See, when you go directly to gramma’s house with enough girls, you eventually get the end-screen message “You know where you’ve been,” which means that you can now use a key/button to see the path you’ve taken without having to wait for it to come on-screen. But once you’ve collected all the items and go to gramma’s house, you get the message “You know what you will do.” This has bothered me for days.

  34. krellen says:

    The developers, and even their followers who anticipated the game, had a long debate about the “failure” screen. Ultimately they left it in not as a judgement on whether you did it “right” (as far as I can determine, an “A” is impossible), but rather as a way of telling you that you missed something. You “failed” because there is more to see than you did.

    Boiling it down to a simple “you have to hurt them to win” is missing the point entirely. You don’t “win”. It’s not that sort of game.

    As for hurting the girls, I see that entirely differently, but I want to let Shamus finish his series before that discussion starts.

    @Groboclown: “You know what you will do” might be creepy when you haven’t led any girl to a wolf, but what it’s really saying is that the map will show you what you can interact with now, rather than what you have interacted with.

  35. Maldeus says:

    If you read the girl’s livejournals, you’ll find a lot of them talk about seeing/interacting with objects in the forest before heading back to the path and on to grandma’s house. This implies you are supposed to stay on the path the first time. Later on, you’re supposed to poke around the woods before getting spooked and running back to the path, because the game tries very hard to make the woods a scary place. By the end, since you’ve got nothing else to do, you eventually run yourself into the woods. In other words, Groboclown: ur doin it rite.

    Does the game inform you that you must get these girls wolfed before you even get on the path? Or do you just end up leaving the path because there’s nothing on the path? The former would imply not that you must get Robin killed, but rather that Robin’s recklessness got herself killed. As stated, you are not Robin, but nor are you actively plotting to kill Robin, unless you’ve read spoilers in which case ur doin it rong. You simply watch as Robin gets herself tragically killed.

    Also, at what point did the wolf begin to represent death? The grave represents death, and the wolf represents the thing that sends you to it (unless the wolf is a wolf, in which case it still sends Robin to her death).

  36. EvilGod says:

    My intepretation would be that the wolf represents death, but not like “the death of the girl” but rather the concept of death and dying.

    For a child it can be hard to grasp the meaning of death. When kids ask about the death of a person they often get the explenation that the person has “left” or is “gone”. the next question is most often “when will he/she be back?”.
    For me, Robins path is the step from being an innocent child to a child that knows that everybodies life will end and that death is final, a harsh but important realisation.

    when Robin finishes without meeting the wolf, she goes into the house, in a carefree way, and sits, playfully, on the bed with a pale white person in it and the wolf(=death) only a step away.
    at this moment a graveyard for her is still like a flowerbed for people. because she “doesnt get it” yet.
    But after she has met the wolf and literally grasped it and fought for the realisation that everybody dies, she is broken/depressed (=limping) but her eyes are opened to the truth (=pulled back hood). she sees the world as an adult would see it: the house was marked by death (the clawings on the doors) and instead of a pale person in a bed she finds an open grave, realizing what the next step for that person was or will be. at the same moment she also realizes that she will die (eventually), symbolized by falling into the grave and being attacked by the wolf.

    I also second the idea of “from cradle to the grave” and “mememento mori”. but i think that there is still some symbolism hidden in the birthday room: 3 candles, 4 chairs, 5 balloons? also i dont understand why there are presents under the chairs, maybe a cultural reference i dont get?
    also i think the size change of the cradle might be the realisation that the birth of a person is even more important when you know that we all will eventually seize to exist

    Anyway: my interpretation is as good as yours!
    and I still have to “accompany” the other girls. I wanna do them in chronological order (that sounds kinda dirty, but “play” or “try” wouldnt be any better). but the white girl and the forsaken playground creeped me the hell out (more than the graveyard) and I m a little reluctant to go on.

  37. Spider Dave says:

    @EvilGod
    Interesting how creepy the white girl is, despite her being that which brings you out of the forest and to the path. I was scared of her too, the first time I saw her running past me.

  38. Maldeus says:

    @EvilGod (poser) 38: The pale person in the bed is grandma, who is present in every non-wolf ending, and grandma’s room is always symbolic of some kind of horrible realization, whether that’s a giant tree penetrating a bed, a barbed wire deathtrap, or a grave Robin is obliging enough to walk straight into (I’m sure the devs would’ve had a tough time making that scary if she hadn’t). And I still don’t see how the wolf represents the concept of death or dying when we conveniently have a grave doing that for us already. Not to mention Ginger’s and Carmen’s wolves were both literal (the literality of Ginger’s isn’t immediately clear, but the creator’s post on Shamus’s section on Ginger heavily implies the Girl in Red is literal). Admittedly, this wolf gets up and walks around, and real wolves don’t do that, but then, real wolves don’t hang out without a pack either, real power lines don’t cut through a forest, and real grandma’s don’t usually have houses that bend the laws of reality.

  39. EvilGod says:

    @Maldeus: for me a grave is more a “byproduct” of death. the grave is connected to dying as a whole but not so much to the “act of dying” and the concept of the “end of life”. the wolf is more like a Grim Reaper or a Black Dog (=Omen of Death).

    I also just saw that the wolf in gran’s room is white and the one in the woods is black. also the first one is more dog-like while the one on the graveyard is more like a werewolf. again this might reference to the clean, childlike view of death contrasted to a more gritty, brutal and very human view of death.

    and cant we have two or more symbols for the same thing in one story?

  40. Patty says:

    They aren’t even trying to be convincing with their writing, are they?

  41. Maldeus says:

    @EvilGod 41: Black Dog as an omen of death makes a great deal of sense. But you still stole my name.

    @Patty 42: By “they” I assume you mean Tale of Tales, in which case a bit of clarification would be appreciated.

  42. skantman says:

    Graves symbolize inevitability. A concept which renders life either precious or meaningless; depending on whether or not you’re a glass is half empty or half full sort of person. Whether or not this observation makes sense in the context of these comments I do not know as I only read the first 25%. Sorry, the Internet has destroyed my attention span. But hey, at least I’m trying to contribute.

  43. Yahzi says:

    “owners of scary dogs who allow them to run after and scare the crap out of cyclists riding past their house”

    You know why dogs chase cats? Because they run… :D

    If a dog is chasing you on a bike, what you should do is stop and get off the bike. You can keep the bike between you and the dog, if it’s a scary one, but chances are the dog will lose interest when you stop acting like prey.

    Not that this excuses irresponsible owners: people should know where their dogs are and what they’re doing. Also, it’s rude to let your dogs interrupt people’s bike rides. But if you can help the dog to learn what is and is not acceptable to chase, you’ll be helping everybody in the scenario.

    Ya, I know… I’m a Ceaser fanboi.

  44. pneuma08 says:

    @Maldeus: Rose’s ending indicates that there’s no way that all of the wolf scenes can be taken literally. Perhaps literally from the perspective of the girl, including hallucinations and confusion, but not strictly literally.

    About the gameplay and controls: this is something I think goes underappreciated. It is true that the controls imply remoteness rather than immersion, but at the same time it is true that there is a remarkable difference between “playing” someone who kills children and “playing” The Path, in essence guiding them to their doom (or not). I prefer to think of it as you are responsible for the girls, rather than you are them. Now, this responsibility adds an extra layer of horror to the player that simply doesn’t exist in other media, brought home by the delightfully chilly “YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WILL DO”. This is basically the reason why I believe this game ought to be played and not watched (although watching it is adequate, there’s much that is missed). It also illustrates why I’m firmly in the “games = art” crowd.

    (In retrospect, I suppose that it could be present in other media; e.g., watching a movie is participating, so breaking the fourth wall and saying, “you know what you will do” – in which case the “do” is “watch” – can be chilling. However, it’s not nearly as potent, as you have to exit the experience in order to avoid the forecast, whereas in the game you have control within the game itself, and you have to be actively avoiding the wolf to get the message, so the game is basically calling you out as well.)

    Furthermore, the failure message and the clovers I see as both “guideposts” in order to lead the uninitiated. There is at least some portion of gamers who, if they are completely new to the game, will simply do as they are told, and if they don’t realize there is much else they might not see the actual game (especially if they go, “Huh, that was weird. Let’s try another girl…” for a couple times before growing bored and not looking back). Granted, there is much debate over if they are necessary, as most (if not all) will have the urge to explore off the path, but having that “failure” there is basically a big, clear “you’re missing something” that may not be immediately obvious.

  45. EvilGod says:

    @Maldeus: Be assured, I didnt steal the name from you. I am wearing it proudly for over a decade now. Funny how some people stick to the same nick while others like to change them over time and use different ones depending on the places they are…
    anyway: i like the little latin twist you gave it.
    if you are still not convinced, then check the old posts. I have been here since 2007 (and some years before i first posted)

  46. […] did the whole act necessarily result in her death, as the game led me initially to believe and as Shamus Young postulates it does. Well, I’m going to say it doesn’t, but I’ve already spoiled too much at this stage to go […]

  47. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Re-reading these posts for the 2nd time, Shamus. Years after the initial publication.

    Still as enjoyable now as it was then.

  48. emily says:

    what i want to know is robin’s past!!!

  49. emily says:

    what i want to know is what is robin’s past?????!!!!

  50. emily says:

    what i want to know is what’s robin’s past?

  51. Homepage says:

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  52. Jojo says:

    I always thought Red turned into a were wolf and killed her grandma. Do you remember how the Wolf was on /two / feet? And she though of were wolfs as people, humanizing them. This shows her naivete and why she jumps on the wolf’s back, then the screen turns to black. Im thinking the Were wolf bites her and she becomes a were wolf in the end, Killing her grandmother as a result. Thats why her bed was covered in blood, an ironic twist. Plus it doesn’t hurt to add that there was a full moon when you entered the house.

  53. girl says:

    I feel that Robin’s wolf represents her losing her innocence, discovering that she will die one day and understanding that. The birthday and the open grave are good indicators.

  54. lyric says:

    I think Robin was scared of growing up. She was innocent and her wolf showed her the cold ways of the world. The reason she was so slow at the end was because her childlike happiness was killed by the wolf. The crib and the birthday party was to show she’s growing up. At the end, she sees the grandmother dead (evident by the bloody bed in the clip). I think she was killed by her innocence being shattered. i don’t know if she really died or if it was just being symbolic of her childhood.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Reflecting On The Path « You Have Lost! on Fri Dec 18, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    […] did the whole act necessarily result in her death, as the game led me initially to believe and as Shamus Young postulates it does. Well, I’m going to say it doesn’t, but I’ve already spoiled too much at this stage to go […]

  2. By Homepage on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm

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