The Path: Ruby

By Shamus Posted Monday Sep 14, 2009

Filed under: Game Reviews 46 comments

Her bio from the website:

The other girls call her “goth”… It’s one way of killing people: stereotyping them, putting them in a box and throwing it away. But there’s more to Ruby than meets the eye. A young lady by now, 15 years of age. Life has opened up to her as a rotting flower of corruption. She can see through it all but remains an enigma herself. When asked about her leg brace, Ruby says she’s in pain. But doesn’t specify where it hurts. Ruby does not long for death. She takes a perverse pleasure in observing the extreme decay of adult society. But what will happen when she ceases to be a witness and becomes a participant instead?

Ruby is playfully morbid. So is her story.

Some of the girls – Ginger in Particular – have tales that defy logical explanation and challenge the player to dig deep for meaning. Others can be explained just fine as literal stories, leaving the player to wonder if they’re supposed to do so. Ruby is the latter kind.

Ruby wanders around the woods making sardonic or nihilistic observations until she comes to the abandoned playground. As she arrives, we see a cutscene of a young guy pulling… something. Something bodybag-esque.

Ruby’s Wolf

She sits down next to the guy. He’s obviously a bad boy and bad news. (I really like the animations here. They tell us a lot about the guy just with body language. Note that this is a small indie studio and they don’t have access to motion-capture. Expressive movement is really, really hard using interpolated posing, which is what you do if you don’t have mo-cap. Nice work to the artist.) He offers her a cigarette. She leans away. She doesn’t want to, but she wants the guy to like her. She accepts, and takes a puff with much coughing.

Camera pulls away. Fade to black.

Obviously we can just do this the literal way and assume she wound up getting dragged away in a bodybag of her own. But if we’re looking for meaning then there’s a lot to be said for the little exchange with the cigarette. Ruby doesn’t seem that emotionally needy. Whatever her faults, she doesn’t seem to crave the approval of others. She may even despise it. But here she is, doing something she clearly doesn’t want to do in order to gain the approval of a stranger.

Obviously this is because he’s “a boy”. As her bio suggests, she doesn’t think much of adults and the compromises they live with. Now she’s discovering the world gets really complicated really fast when you find yourself needing other people. This guy is bad news even if the bodybag is symbolic. He’s not good for her.


Well, assuming she’s not dead…

Unlike Carmen, Ruby isn’t attracted to the guy because he’s bad for her. Again, going back to the adult world and its complexities, I think she happens to like this guy but they have an unhealthy relationship. (Carmen is attracted to men who are destructive, Ruby is attracted to a man who happens to be destructive.)

Once again, I want to remind people what I said at the outset. This is what the game said to me. I don’t claim to have any secret knowledge, and I’m just reacting to the game inkblot-style: “What do you think of when you see this?”


From The Archives:

46 thoughts on “The Path: Ruby

  1. The Mathematician says:

    What do you see when you get to Grandma’s house? you didn’t mention it for once…


  2. Maldeus says:

    Is it just me, or are these analyses getting less and less in-depth? You haven’t begun relying on us to analyze these things for you, have you Shamus?

    EDIT: Okay, one YouTube video later and we have ourselves another insane grandma funhouse visit. Firstly, we get lots of smoke in the hallways (gee, I wonder what that represents). Then we go through a hallway with lots of lockers on the side (gee, I wonder what that represents). Then we bend the laws of physics a little bit and end up on a balcony overlooking some kind of arena-type place, with a crashed car in it. A bird-cage swings down, twirls about to face Ruby, who promptly enters, gets tossed around a bit, and flung onto the ground. She leaves through a door in the arena-type place, walks through some pipeworks, and ends up walking into the weirdest deathtrap I’ve yet seen. It’s worth noting, however, that it takes you by surprise. You’re all expecting to be killed by weird thing on the spinny…Thing, but instead another weird thing crushes you when you’re halfway there.

    Also, it’s worth noting that it is heavily, heavily implied that for all Ruby is playful about it, she really is suicidal deep down inside.

    The EDIT strikes back: Ooh, insane conspiracy theory of the day! Shamus was asked to review the Path by Tale of Tales (or perhaps just Samyn, personally). As part of the deal he’d start off by giving in-depth analyses that put everyone else on the right track, but by the end he gives vague answers that have little or nothing to do with the contents of the nightmare funhouse. So here’s the question…Is the Path really a game, or is it just the beginning of one?

    I say again, dun dun DUN!

  3. Rutskarn says:

    Maldeus: This one doesn’t seem quite as juicy as some of the earlier ones, though. It’s a fairly straightforward story.

    Granted, I haven’t played it, but from the looks of it, the symbolism isn’t laid on quite as thick in some chapters as it is in the others.

  4. Andrew says:

    I keep thinking I should get this game but I never do money stuff on line.

  5. Sho says:

    I think the smoke is significant. Ruby remarks about how she wants to try smoking when she’s at one of the non-wolf places (“they say it shortens your life”). She talks about the beauty of decay. It’s implied that she cuts herself? Anyway, I see the wolf as a symbol of -moral- decay. Dragging around bodies. Pushing drugs. Seems rather immoral. The kind of person Ruby could become, if she pursued her fascination with decay and tried to spread it… then again, she seems pretty introverted, so she might just focus on herself.

    During the wolf scene and in grandma’s house the sound of a motor is running, and one of her secret room thingies is a car. Her walking difficulty calls to mind some kind of accident, whereas the smoke makes me think of suicide by gassing. I’m not sure what to make of this. Unless I read into it too much (The car as a symbol of societal decay? Bleh.)

    It’s interesting to see how other people interpret all this, though.

  6. BlckDv says:

    Interesting; the first review in which what I took away had very little overlap with our erstwhile host.

    To me this story was about teenage rebellion and “I am unique, like everyone else.” I saw a character looking for ways to reject what she saw as adult society, and to dismiss the worries and norms of adults as part of the boredom of their lives, not serious worries or earned wisdom.

    She ends up picking up a bad boy type boyfriend who encourages her to break the rules, and ends up getting into a horrible car wreck, in which she may or may not have died. To me, and this last part is admittedly dicey, I got the impression she may have been skipping school or something of the like to hang out with the guy.

  7. SatansBestBuddy says:

    I really wish you’d link to Youtube video’s of the endings for people don’t have this game.

    Sure, we could find them ourselves, but still, the convience is much appriciated for those who are lost because we don’t have the game ourselves.

    EDIT: After seeing the ending myself, I have to say she reminds me of a friend I had who got really into drugs, not because of the high they gave her, but because of the thought that she’d be destroying her life while having fun at the same time was just an added bonus.

    She was pretty, fun, and did well at school, but she couldn’t open up to people very easily; if I hadn’t known her for as long as I did I don’t think I’d have ever been able to talk to her at all.

    Don’t really have anything to add that would be thought provoking, I just thought I’d mention that, cause Ruby looks surprisingly like her, almost like she was a model for that artist or something.

  8. Actually, I do think she likes him precisely because he is bad news. She strikes me as the type of girl who wouldn’t look twice at a regular Joe no matter how handsome and charming he would be. She doesn’t need a “boyfriend” or a guy to admire her. But this guy seems right up her alley – a shady dude with a cool bike or car (ok, maybe it’s just me but when the screen fades to black it sounds like someone is reving an engine), and a sarcastic wit, and attitude that mirrors her own – self destructive, nihilistic, aloof.

    I think she sees a potential soul mate in him. And perhaps she admires him as someone who is actually a living embodiment of the ideas she aspires too.

    Maybe I’m going out on a limb, but here is what I think:

    She runs away with this guy because he seems to be the only person who “understands her” and takes her for who she is. She thinks he will whisk her away to a better life. She doesn’t want to end up like her parents and/or her sisters – she wants a different life. She views the adult life as a perverse comedy and perhaps she wants to live free, die young and all that jazz.

    Then she realizes what we did the moment we saw the guy. He is bad news, but now she is trapped in this messed up relationship. That’s the cage. The circus arena may symbolize the craziness she has gotten into – drunken parties, drugs, violence. There is a burning car in there – perhaps an accident. Maybe that’s what prompts her to leave the guy.

    Not sure what to make of the pipes… Maybe that’s supposed to symbolize her trying to live on her own, or the difficulty she has trying to get home. Maybe she is all alone in a big city with no money, and she ends up sleeping in abandoned basements and boiler rooms somewhere. Or maybe they both wind up like this?

    You know, this could really be a drug addiction metaphor. The cigarette is a symbolic gateway. She takes a cigarette from this guy, so maybe she ends up doing other things as well. She drops out of school (lockers) then goes on a crazy ride for a few weeks and then like many addicts ends up homeless living in some boiler room.

    Or… I’m looking way to much into this stuff. Shamus, you need to do better on the cloud zombie analysis. This installment is by far the least thorough one. :)

  9. Hirvox says:

    Personally, I interpreted the leg brace as something that’s holding her back, allowing her to only bitterly observe, not attend and enjoy. But now the wolf offers her a chance to live up a bit, and she accepts the change even though she suspects it might be bad. So she enters a life on the road, taking the role of the trophy girlfriend (the cage sequence), a dangerous position to be with a neglectful, reckless wolf as a boyfriend. She gets a last-minute warning before the fatal crash, but it’s too late at that point to turn away.

    In other words, this is the story that’s been retold since the days of James Dean and Reefer Madness.

  10. Brian says:

    You know what I’d like to see now? An in-depth, highly psychological review of that Tex Avery cartoon where Red Riding Hood is a hot showgirl and the Big Bad Wolf is a lecherous patron.

    Great series; keep it up!

    Edit: Found it! Red Hot Riding Hood. “Do it a new way” indeed.

  11. Kiwipolish says:

    It’s hard to tell, but I got the impression she was not limping with the leg brace until after meeting the wolf. What I took away from Ruby’s story was how easy it is to mock the corruption of others while falling into it yourself, and how talking about suffering isn’t really so much fun when you actually are.

  12. Vladius says:

    Smoking is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.

    I think that Ruby’s really connected to some of the more cursory things in the forest than the other girls, particularly in the case of the car, which is probably the origin of her leg brace.

  13. SeekerOfThePath says:

    I came to see her story as a metaphor for drugs – getting involved with wrong kind of people, taking up some habit (cigarette in game) and getting “off the path” falling into darkness (of the forest) only to return to the right path later with remorse (her walk of shame to the house).

  14. Kojiro says:

    Something worth noting about Ruby is that, despite her leg brace, she’s actually the fastest of the red girls when you have her run (and her running shows no sign of difficulty). Her profile also mentions how she doesn’t actually go any further into explanations about the brace other than “it hurts”.

    Not sure if that means anything, but if you try to make something of it Ruby can be interpreted in a very different manner.

  15. Maldeus says:

    Well, as a rebellious young teenager who hates society, is in love with decay, and may or may not have a death wish hidden beneath layers of snark, I may be able to shed some light on the subject. Or I may provide a completely and totally inaccurate interpretation due to my being too close to the subject at hand. It all depends on whether I make my Analyze (Symbolic Interpretation) skill check, really.

    more to ruby than meets the eye

    So, Ruby’s implied to be cutting herself, she hints that she’s in psychological pain, and her livejournal is covered in hints of suicide, but she “does not long for death.” Forgive me if I’m not convinced. I think Ruby does, in fact, want to kill herself, somewhere deep down inside, but she’s not a whiny emo kid doing it for attention. She keeps it to herself, because for all that she wants someone who understands her to pick up on the hints she’s dropping, she doesn’t want some painfully normal person to come along and start trying to convince her that life is so worth living using a line of reasoning that doesn’t begin to apply to her. That’s the kind of attention she doesn’t want.

    shes in pain

    This does not bode well for when the Wolf shows up.

    Now then, as for the school lockers, I was immediately struck by one thing and one thing only when I saw those. School is a symbol of the decay of society. I walk through the hallways of an American high school, among the students but not of them, and it takes all my effort to refrain from bursting out in manic laughter because of how all the inhabitants wills and ambitions have been ground into the dirt, leaving only shells behind.

    a perverse pleasure in watching the decay

    Of course, you probably won’t just take my word for it, so here’s a crash course in my grievances with the school system: It’s a fascist mini-state run on the ground level by the teachers, who are regulated within an inch of their lives by their superiors, who are themselves similarly regulated, leaving a situation in which no one has much room breathe and all the underlings are pitted against one another. The teachers in general are pitted against the student body in general, and the student body itself is denied any resource to compete over beyond popularity, which leads them to further factionalize against one another, competing viciously for the only resource available to competed over. Now popularity can be earned in one of two ways, either by doing something for the good of all or else by taking it away from someone else, simultaneously sending the message that whoever your competitor is should be discredited and that you should side yourself with the discreditor for fear of being discredited yourself. In a world devoid of competition for resources other than popularity itself, the first is impossible. Thus, cliques.

    its one way of killing people

    That was a sociological rant and you’re not obliged to agree with it, of course, but it’s very easy to see how someone like Ruby might get a similar idea, so assuming she sees school in a similar light as that, that’s what the lockers will symbolize for her. On top of this, I can’t count the number of times people have told me that work is so much harder than school. They were, of course, deluding themselves. Sure, you might be asked to produce more, but it’s in an area of your expertise and, hopefully, passion, and even if not you are being compensated for it. But Ruby doesn’t necessarily realize this.

    a rotting flower of corruption

    Besides which, just having freedoms doesn’t mean people will exercise them. Conditioned as they have been throughout their entire upbringing to tolerate misery without even trying to find a way to avert it, several people live their lives in dead end jobs assuming that it’s pure luck that separates them from the happy people of the world. Again, you’re not obliged to agree with this, but knowing Ruby probably would should help with the interpretation.

    can see through it all but remains an enigma herself

    Given this, what’s there to live for? Life sucks for eighty years and then you die. If your hopes and dreams don’t fit inside the box, they’ll be heartlessly crushed by the powers-that-be. If you seek to be different or unique, you will be stereotyped as being just like all the other rebellious goth-types. And it’s not like Gothred isn’t willing to embrace the stereotype herself. So she’s wearing the brace as a symbol. For one thing, it sets her apart. It isn’t a corset or combat boots or anything else most goths wear. It’s different. For another, it’s a symbol, for her and anyone who cares to understand her, that she is in pain. The pain is purely psychological, born of despair for a better future, which is why she refuses to specify where

    it hurts

    Regrettably, it seems Ruby lacks my feverish determination to defy the powers-that-be and change the world and insert-naive-dreams-of-significance-here. She sees the doom of the world and of herself as more or less inevitable, so when an understanding wolf comes along and hands her a cig, the logic is obvious. She gets to relax and stop worrying about how painfully screwed over the world is for a few minutes and she gets to hack off a few days of her time on it with each puff. Where’s the downside?

    ceases to be a witness and becomes a participant instead

    Of course, by this logic, Ruby would be perfectly justified in spreading her philosophy of hedonistic despair as far and wide as possible. If life truly is birth-pain-death, then cutting out as much of the middle as possible is positively merciful.

    becomes a participant instead

    Problem being, once you’ve chosen this path, there is no going back. Drugs have a nasty tendency to be addicting. Pricey, too. So, once you’ve started, you can never, ever change your mind. Even if you decide life isn’t so hopeless anymore, it’s still as hopeless as ever for her. She’s sacrificed hope she thought she didn’t have in exchange for a temporary relief from the despair. And worse still, now she’s spreading it. Crippling humanity’s ability to change things for the better by sucking those who can see fascism for what it is into a sense of helplessness and nihilism.

    a participant instead

    Honestly? I’m pretty sure I hate Ruby now. Shut up, grit your teeth, and fight the pain. Fight it at its source, and make the world a better place, instead of abandoning the rest of us so you can go get yourself killed before you’re twenty-five.


    1. MTP says:

      It’s ridiculous that I feel the need to reply to such an old post, but here goes:

      Maldeus, I… I really don’t want to rant right now, I’m exhausted at the moment… so let me just say that your comment is one of the best things I’ve ever read. I’ve actually copypasted it into a word document and saved it onto my computer so that I can always have it near me.

  16. Dev Null says:

    Is it just something about the atmosphere of the game that makes everyone see Spike’s burden as a body bag? I’m not immune – I thought it too – but the rebellious logical bit of my brain thinks about how many times I’ve had to drag a rolled-up carpet somewhere and it didn’t have any bodies in it at all…

    Its also fascinating how much of everyone’s interpretations focus on what happens offcamera _after_ anything we actually see in the game. Personally I saw Ruby’s wolf as having “got” her the moment she takes the cigarette – the fiercely disdainful individualist bows to peer pressure of a sort and tries the unhealthy habit. No further horribleness required (depending, of course, on whether you believe all of the stories have to end in death or not.) The school imagery in grandmas house also alluding to how she does or does not mix with her actual peers.

  17. Maldeus says:

    Oh, yeah, that’s something I forgot in my previous analysis. Ruby’s basically submitting to her place in “the system” by becoming the druggie-goth girl and sacrificing the independence that had made her who she was.

  18. Gregory Weir says:

    Dev Null: I looked very closely at the “body bag,” and agree that it’s a rolled-up carpet. There is something sinister about dragging a rolled-up carpet to an overgrown playground in the middle of the woods, though. And there could be something inside.

  19. Kojiro says:

    Oh, also, I’m looking forward to your review of Rose’s story. Rose was the girl I identified with the most, for some reason, and she also has one of the most bizarre stories; I have at least three different theories for her and all of them could work due to the heavy symbolism and lack of clear… Anything, really. Her story is as foggy as the lake.

  20. King of Men says:

    Derailing slightly, I’m a bit puzzled at the workings of this game. In Shamus’s summaries, we seem to have maybe five to ten minutes of “gameplay” per character, to the extent that running around a forest and hearing your character comment on things can be considered gameplay. I understand that it’s more a piece of interactive art than a game, but still, it looks like you’re not getting a whole lot of interactive art for your money. Is there lots of content that Shamus is leaving out to concentrate on the main story? (No slam on Shamus if so; a review has only so much room in it.) Am I missing something else, or does this thing really have only about an hour’s worth of stuff in it? It looks like the time spent writing the reviews might be quite a bit larger than the time spent actually playing!

  21. JadedDM says:

    Check out the ‘let’s play’ of The Path on youtube, King of Men. What you see is pretty much what you get. I think the gameplay time for each girl is a bit longer than 5-10 minutes, though, simply because it takes a long time to walk around (you can run, but the camera shifts so you can’t really see anything).

    I feel really dumb spending $10 on this ‘game.’

  22. Hirvox says:

    Yeah, what you see is what you get. If you cut out the wandering in the woods and just show the interactable elements within the woods and the house, there’s just 5-10 minutes per girl of “gameplay”. As a game, it is a ripoff.

    BTW, point taken about the leg brace. While they may not be an actual hindrance, it wouldn’t stop Ruby from treating it as such. One of the characteristics of a stereotypical emo is the exaggeration of your problems.

  23. Ravens Cry says:

    Call it a case of sour grapes, it is, but as my computer couldn’t run a game within a generation of this The Path, I don’t find this series of posts all that interesting to me. *sigh* Oh well. Your Blog, your posts, your rules. I am glad you have enjoyed this exploration and I completely agree games can be art.
    Just my 8% of a quarter.

  24. pneuma08 says:

    @Ravens Cry: You can find the endings on YouTube. They’re enough to effectively tell whatever story there is, although you miss out on the exploration and discovery aspects of the game (which honestly is somewhat hollow).

    That said, between finding all the things to interact with, viewing both the non-wolf and wolf endings, and soaking in the creepy atmosphere, I’d say there’s more than 5 minutes of real content per girl, although more than 10 is stretching it. However, the point isn’t to immediately get to the juicy bits and repeat. I personally enjoy the plodding pace of the game, and it can be pretty effective at the horror aspect if you let it work.

    It’s not perfect, but I believe it was worth my $10.

  25. inafish says:

    I’ve started watching the YouTube vids before reading your reviews, Shamus, because you have a tendency to influence my perception. And I have to say I’m surprised that you didn’t pick up the drugs angle at all. To me, the whole house was all about drugs and the damage they do – the cage of addiction, the isolation of an empty school corridor, the loss of control implied by the wrecked car (among other things). The machines in the room after that reminded me of a hospital, and a serious illness. I was not at all surprised to find another bed at the end, with what looked like a blade at chest level. I also think that the limp and the heartbeat sound in the first room could be connected to the physical damages of smoking and drugs. If we see the wolf as a drugs pusher (who says the cigarette is just a cigarette anyway?), the carpet/bodybag thing seems to make a little more sense, too…

  26. Conlaen says:

    I did play the Path for a little bit. And this is the girl I played it with. And after the whole wolf incident, I did feel like she had in fact been raped. But having read the other character reviews here, I guess others fit that description better and perhaps the drugs arguement fits better to her.

    Still can’t quite shake the feeling of the rape after seeing her make that walk of shame after having unwillingly given in to the boy’s advances though.

  27. Avilan the Grey says:

    Okay… Drawing a complete blank here. I don’t get her at all. Except the obvious filing under “Too Dumb To Live”, which seems to fit almost all the girls anyway.

    Question to females here: Is anyone here identifying with any of the girls? To me they are all just alien creatures (just like the game itself) and I get 0% identification or recognition with any of them.

  28. Vladius says:

    “it hurts”


    If you don’t understand why that phrase is so evocative, you need to play these games:

    They’re by Yahtzee. If you’ve already played them, the special editions are now free, so there’s an excuse to do it again.

  29. thexplodingnome says:

    Hey Avilan the Grey…

    I half agree with you.

    Half disagree: Each of these girls have fairly common flaws that lead to their downfall (flaws which are not just confined to women, btw). Most of these find their root in naive ignorance, and while that can indeed seem like stupidity to a lot of people, I don’t think it’s necessarily the case here. The girls just haven’t learned any better, and I think The Path tells the story of how each of them learned to overcome that ignorance the hard way. The degree to how much a person identifies with them is perhaps reflected in how familiar that ignorance was to him or her, or in how it was overcome.

    For example, Ruby is at an age where she is no longer an innocent child, but she’s not old enough to understand what decay or pain really is. She knows that everything eventually falls into entropy. Perhaps she sees societal corruption wherever she goes as she begins to view the adult world with adolescent eyes, recoils from it, and alternatively becomes attracted to a nihilistic attitude. She prefers to idolize the decay she sees as inevitable, and embraces a counter-culture that makes most uncomfortable. Eventually, Ruby comes to romanticize it; she adopts a leg brace that she probably doesn’t need, she daydreams about (but I doubt actually goes through with) cutting herself, and she yearns to try smoking. When she finally comes across her wolf, she accepts the cigarette not, I think, out of peer pressure, but because she wants to take that first step into the self-destructive dream-world she’s unwittingly invented for herself. All of a sudden, decay and the discomfort it brings is no longer a glorious symbol of rebellion against the establishment. It’s disgusting and makes her choke and cough. Her trip through Grandma’s house probably reflects how that understanding of decay colors her new-found perception of it. Anyway, while Ruby is a more extreme example of this attitude, a lot of us held it at some point in our lives. And a lot of us experienced that same rude awakening that maybe rebellion wasn’t as glorious as we made it out to be with our first cigarette or our first hangover.

    Half agree: While I did find each of the girls interesting, I could have identified with them more if they weren’t so (a) one-note and (b) old.

    Each girl had an extremely morbid, order-loving, sexual, etc. reaction to every object she found depending on whatever her brand of ignorance happened to be, so they came off as two-dimensional. I wished the game had admitted to being a rail-road plot (because let’s face it, any game that grades you based on what you accomplished and whether you accomplished it in the right order is rail-roaded); that way, they could have determined an order in which you found objects, with each object unlocking a deeper understanding of the character. So instead of … “hey, a bear; pain is deap”, “hey, a flower; pain is deep”, “hey, a rusted old slide; pain is deep” … perhaps we could have had … “hey, a bear; I used to have a bear like this when I was three, and my sister lost it”, “hey, a flower; why do people plant gardens when your just going to lose that hard work when they wilt anyway?”, “hey, a rusted old slide; if you think about it, rust can be beautiful, especially if you think how everything’s bound to get lost or die anyway.” I mean, that’s not perfect, but it makes the girls seem more thoughtful and less like random quote generators.

    Also, a lot of the girls seemed a tad too old to harbor their particular delusion. I actually thought Ruby was one of the only girls at just the right age; Robin acted way too young for nine, and way more girls discover their sexuality before seventeen-year-old Carmen. Rose and Ginger seemed a tad too old to be acting that way, as well. Maybe that was deliberate on the writers’s part, but it did make them seem more stupid than too young to know any better.

  30. ccesarano says:

    The explodingnome, you’re the first person to see what I saw in the leg brace. “She wears it, but doesn’t specify where it hurts”.

    I’ve known quite a few goth girls AND guys in high school and College, and have seen similar behavior in people that aren’t goth. What we have here is a girl craving attention and acceptance, but doesn’t know how to go about it. Where Carmen seeks validation via her constant attention, Ruby is trying to get attention and through that acceptance.

    Think about it. She’s a middle-child. She’s bound to have been ignored for a good deal of her life as the older children and adults adore and assist the youngest while being left out of grown-up discussions. Girls that fall into this goth phase tend to have histories lacking in friendships and troubled lives at home. Ruby is looking for acceptance, but she’s going about it by trying to stand out. Instead of being a normal girl, she goes goth and applies a leg brace. She takes the attitude that most people would claim marks a “disturbed child”.

    She’s not bad, and she’s not morbid by default. She has taken on this persona so people will look at her. Maldeus is incorrect that her subtlety marks that she’s not doing it for attention, because she tried to be more obvious in her past. What happens when a middle child tries to get attention away from their younger siblings? They are told to stop being such a child and act their age. Obvious attempts at garnering attention gain only a reprimand.

    So as she wanders into the woods, she finds someone doing something bizarre. Whether it is a body bag or not, someone is dragging something that is wearing all black in the woods. The fact that he is a boy helps her to gain attention. The boy offers a cigarette. This is the bad boy. This is exactly who her older sisters and grandmother and any other adult figure would not want her to date. She could get their attention now, by following this guy. She takes his cigarette, because if she doesn’t he will ignore her (probably like all the other guys who paid more attention to Carmen), and so she will gain his acceptance.

    Any teenager that actually believes what they say when it comes to all this love of being morbid is deluding themselves, and any adult that continues into it needs to grow up. All people crave attention. Carmen gains no substance and thus seeks validation. Ruby gains no attention at all and thus does things unusual but in a subtle manner so people will pay attention to her.

    In the end, this behavior becomes self-destructive. By allying herself with the bad news bear, Ruby chose a path that led to her demise. All so someone would notice her.

    That, at least, is my interpretation, and jumped out at me the second I read “has a leg brace, but doesn’t point out where the pain is”.

  31. pneuma08 says:

    @thexplodingnome: AFAIK the grading system is largely superficial and pokes fun at a gamist attitude. I see it as a tool for manipulating the player, and not much else.

    @Avilan the Grey: I suppose I can half agree with you as well. The girls are meant to be figureheads, I suppose. Well, more than that if you read their Livejournal entries, but even there it sometimes comes off as woody or contrived. They could definitively have been written and characterized better.

    I also agree that the ages of the girls are a bit off. I don’t know why Tale of Tales insisted on a every-two-year margin for them, and it seems more than a little artificial.

    Also, I wonder what it says about us as a culture that a good number of people (myself included…) initially think that the fade-to-black to not-feeling-well girls were raped and/or murdered. This strikes me as more than a little odd. I guess it’s the simplest and most horrific things we can come up with on the fly?

  32. Maldeus says:

    In a horror game, fade-to-black followed by nightmare grandma funhouse could definitely imply murder. Where rape came from is beyond me.

  33. Juni says:

    Hmm… I don’t really have much sympathy for Ruby. I think that her “goth” personality is really just one of those cry-for-help things.

    In everything she says, I see a little kid who thinks she understands the world because she’s not old enough to know better.

    The wolf is when the monsters of the world get their claws into her, and because of her own attitude towards life, she can’t defend herself at all.

  34. David V.S. says:

    I very much appreciate what Maldeus wrote.

    Some people define the world, unlike many who merely react to circumstances and live in what others define. Ruby sees this. I think she feels the need to be among those who define the world, but does not know how to get there.

    Speaking from experience, Ruby needs three things.

    First, she needs to start creating. It is easier to define those things you create yourself. It is fun to reinterpret things but this skill is only mastered through practice being inventive. Ruby needs to replace bleakness with creative energy.

    Second, she needs to be in the right place. Not every town, suburb, or city block is accepting of people who try to create and define the world. Her family is apparently too burdened with emotional baggage to support Ruby in the ways she needs.

    Third, she needs to find friends who are also among those who create and define the world. It is emotionally draining when everyone around you is only reacting to circumstances but you see there is so much more to life.

    I have not played the game, but from previous comments it appears that Ruby fails in all three ways. She succumbs to copying and following a “bad boy” rather than becoming creative and inventive. She tries to go someplace but that’s a wreck. And her new “friends” are merely rebels (reacting) rather than creating something new.

  35. Avilan the Grey says:


    “Also, I wonder what it says about us as a culture that a good number of people (myself included…) initially think that the fade-to-black to not-feeling-well girls were raped and/or murdered. This strikes me as more than a little odd. I guess it's the simplest and most horrific things we can come up with on the fly?”

    I think it is pretty obvious; it is a horror game after all… thinly disguised as a piece of art.

  36. Maldeus says:

    If you’d been paying attention, Avilan, you’d see that just about every girl’s story resonates deeply with at least one person in the comments section. This is not thinly disguised. A lot of thought has been put into these, and just because you don’t happen to have the personality type to realize that doesn’t mean you should disregard its worth to those who do. Maybe Rose’ll do something for you.

  37. pneuma08 says:

    I suppose my question was, why does horror = rape and murder?

    Also, the other way is closer: a piece of art thinly disguised as a game. Still, they do use game elements to both manipulate the player and (arguably) apply additional horror aspects, so I wouldn’t say it’s disguised at all.

  38. Blackbird71 says:

    So far I’ve largely avoided responding in these series, mainly because I don’t generally go in for a lot of “artistic interpretation,” since most art nowadays is just plain crap in my opinion.

    Still, looking at the images for this one, I had a thought strike me. Having lugged my share of body bags (used to work for a mortuary/coroner), I can tell you that that’s no body bag. Could it contain a body anyway? Possibly, but I really don’t think so. As far as I can tell, it’s just a plain old roll of carpet, which can be quite heavy and unwieldly in its own right.

    So the question in my mind is “why is a guy lugging a roll of carpet through the forest?” I can’t think of a rational, literal reason to do so, so instead I turned to the figurative and came up with this: he’s “dragging” a rolled up object. Could this not just be a symbolic reference to the cigarettes, or whatever it is they’re smokiing? Instead of an indication of impending death, maybe it’s just another semi-subtle reference to the self-destructive behavior that the guy passes on to Ruby.

  39. Maldeus says:

    Or maybe this guy’s the one who’s been dragging huge, unwieldly objects out in the forest for the sole purpose of abandoning them so that the Red family can stumble across and interact with them in a symbolic manner.

  40. catching's before hanging says:

    Alot of people have picked up on it. Her cynicism and malaise leads her to idolize or at least be attracted to maladaptiveness and self-destructive behaviour.

    I had initally guessed with the car motif, the engine sounds and part of grandma’s house (some of the industrial imagery not unlike, say, Eraserhead, or the bumpy ride)that she went for a ride with him in a car or motorcycle (she does compare men to motorcycles) and it didn’t end up well, though further imagery in the house and the forest can probably allow you to extrapolate a more comprehensive set of ideas. What I got was that her self-destructiveness led to that (she does say she won’t live to be old), but that’s just a cursory glance.

  41. Patrick says:

    I rather liked Ruby. Her comments on things made me laugh.

    It is obvious that the guy is bad news. The fact that you can see him drag a body away could mean that Ruby is fully aware of his evilness, but it can also mean that he has “killed”, most likely indirectly, someone before. For whatever reason, she is attracted to him, aware of what could happen, considering she saw the bodybag. It says in her profile “She can see through it all but remains an enigma herself” meaning that the guy is someone that she thought understood her. Thinking that, she becomes attracted to him, and figures despite what she knows he does, she can handle it. This is why they met at a dark playground, it symbolizes that she thinks that this is something that she can play around with till she wants to stop, but the darkness in the playground shows hownin the dark she is. The scene with the cigratte is important too. It shows that she is hesistant about taking it, but figures she can take it and takes a puff and coughs, foreshadowing that she cant. The thing that rang most to me was the motor sound in grandmas house. What I think it means is that things were starting to go faster and faster for her. It went too fast and she crashed.

    Looking upon all this, this could be a theme about drugs. The guy might have given her some, and it just became a downward spirial for her till she overdosed and crashed.

  42. Hal says:

    (Quite a gravedig on this, apologies.)

    I’m surprised that I actually saw Ruby in a totally different way than most here.

    First off, I don’t see her leg brace as necessarily being the result of a car crash. I got a strong impression that she is ill, likely terminally, and the brace is either a symbol for her affliction, or a direct symptom of it.

    Second, I haven’t seen anyone analyze her comments when she visits the flower patch with the scarecrow. She immediately says something close to “A scarecrow and no crows around, how efficient! I wish I had a scarecrow to scare off the idiots.” This locked in my opinion that she has an illness, coupled with the school themes in the grandma’s house sequence, and that she is made fun of and/or has social issues with people her age because of her illness and their view of her. She’s a pretty girl, and if she simply was a thrill-seeker with no regard for her own safety, I can’t imagine people would be making fun of her for that. If anything, I think she’d be pretty damn popular.

    I think we all can understand the feeling of wishing we could scare the idiots away, sometimes.

    I didn’t get the feeling that her dark, even morbid outlook on some things had anything to do with a gross fascination with death, or even the clear desire to die. Instead, I feel like her somewhat whimsical yet still depressing tone comes from acceptance that she isn’t going to last as long as her peers. She talks about how rust is prettier than paint, but that she probably won’t reach an age of “rust”, and in her eyes, intriguing beauty. It’s not a common sentiment, especially among young persons, to find old age beautiful, but she implies that she does. Why would she think that? Because it’s something out of reach for her. Her health prevents her from living that long.

    I clearly think she flirts with death, however, because living with something as depressing as a terminal illness is quite a heavy weight on her. This leads to her dark humor, that may not be funny to her at all… yet she says things like that and thinks that way because it’s how she stares death down and copes with her situation. She isn’t all doom and gloom, though, she takes the scarecrow’s head and talks about how she wants to eat him. She’s still a bit silly, and I think she enjoys life, but she has a somewhat dark, realistic view of her life, and the coming end of her life.

    Clearly this does lead her in dangerous directions. If you find the recliner in the woods, she sits down in it and wonders why she’s never started smoking. She’s likely tired of the pain from her illness, and I do indeed think it’s literal pain, just not necessarily in her leg (judging from her running speed and extremely minor limp). I feel her pain comes from knowing that her illness, even if it might not be overtly apparent (like a broken bone), is going to claim her life. Maybe it’s cancer, which might not immediately be painful, but leads to a very, very horrible decline. A lot of her pain is likely emotional, but not in that “emo/goth teen” sense. I don’t get that from her at all.

    More on her destructive actions, I feel things are very symbolic here. The car relates with “living fast and dying young”. Hey, maybe she does speed around in cars with boys, but the meaning is simply how she goes about her days, pushing the thinking on herself that maybe dying young isn’t so bad… because whether she likes it or not, that’s what’s going to happen. I feel the blonde guy with the bod- er, carpet, could be both symbolic or literal.

    Going into detail on him, he represents her _destructive course_ (THAT is her wolf), whether that be thrill-seeking, hanging out with the wrong people (like him), smoking and damaging her body, etc. The rolled up carpet, I think, is a blazing symbolic image. That’s what’s going to happen to her either way, but when she’s seeing it so blatantly and vividly, it’s a powerful thought in her head knowing that living dangerously like she is could lead exactly to that. She could be murdered, rolled up in carpet, and dumped in the woods. A part of her is probably afraid of that, she doesn’t seem too keen on taking the cigarette at first, but she thinks again and takes it willingly.

    It’s a little sad, because I think that scene represents a lot of resignation in her character. There’s also the sofa, a symbol of her sickness and immobilization in life (not necessarily literally, but in that a terminal illness severely hampers your emotional mobility, steals your options away from you), with a massive piece of rusty metal through it (a not-so-subtle symbol of a cutting edge, a razor, suicide, with rust thrown in to probably show her somewhat positive view of it), which only go further to show that the girl is weak and at the end of her rope. She walks towards the spinning blade, suicide, and instead, she’s blindsided and all goes black.

    I think it’s extremely safe to say that her tale ends in her death at the hands of the wolf. Like Molly Hatchet, she flirted with disaster and paid with her life.

    Ruby is my favorite character in The Path so far, because I feel she had a lot of depth and tragedy to her. She wasn’t simply selfish, she wasn’t simply overemotional, she was a smart, thinking girl, and she had serious, piercing woes that pushed her past her breaking point. I felt for her.

  43. Blazian says:

    I feel Ruby felt rejected; maybe her feeling trapped in a bird cage symbolises Her being locked in a cage, away from society. The lack of socializing may have caused her to become ‘goth’. Maybe when she met the blond boy he was the first person to talk to her, to unlock her from her cage of loneliness. He offers a cigarette to her, and she, wanting this boy to like her, accepted it. He offers her car rides, drugs, alcohol,etc. One day after he drinks, he offers her a car ride and they crash, hence why she looks smashed in the images in grandmas house. Maybe when they crashed, she got stuck in the engine, hence why you go into a room filled with engines. The boy’s hand image could mean that he tried to save her, maybe a reaching hand, or it could mean her reaching hand was denied. Maybe Ruby wasn’t killed, maybe fatally injured. The boy, feeling guilty, decided to end her suffering and delibratly gave her yet ANOTHER car ride, in order to kill her. He kept her body in a body bag, hence why with Carmen the body bag is still there.

    Most people think that Ruby’s is pretty straight forward, but I have to disagree.


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  45. Ryuu says:

    Personally, I think that the smoke, the cage and the car that follows right after it suggests some sort of accident. Perhaps the two had started romancing, and the Wolf wanted to take Ruby home, but whatever they were smoking (not neccessarily cigarettes, right?)caused the Wolf to be unable to drive, therefore causing them to fall down a cliff. This way, the bodybag/carpet/rug can be understood as a hint of just death caused by the Wolf, not murder.

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