Saturday, 9 May 2009

Low budget games

This is going to be a quick post, so I can bring your attention to the Professional Gamer's (or Costas from LostInGames) post on some smaller budget games he has been playing. I can thoroughly recommend "Today I die" which is free and essentially some form of interactive poetry, while Braid has been on my list of games to play for quite a while now and I'm almost embarrassed by how long it's taking me to get round to play it.

I do want to add a game to the list though - The Path from Tale of Tales. It's a horror game inspired by Little Red Riding Hood but instead of following the path to Grandma's house as instructed, you're encouraged to wander off into the woods - where all the interesting stuff is... It only costs $9.99 and can be downloaded from here. It's already been reviewed e.g. Leigh Alexander's review on Kotaku and for a much better description of it than I could give check out Fullbirght's take on it here. I think the main reason the game appeals to me because it's making people think about what games are and what they could be. Yes it challenges our normal game play assumptions but you can also see how something it could be used to prompt discussions about all sorts of issues, such as is it warning young girls to stay away from dangerous situations? Or do we all have our own "wolfs"? And even to what extent does it echo traditional fairy tales, including of course, Little Red Riding Hood? I also like the way the designers have worked around the game so you can find out a bit more about the girls as individuals e.g. Carmen has a blog here, while the rest can be found from the Path's own blog.

That said, and as much as I appreciate the different approach to designing a game-play experience, I haven't actually finished the game yet. Ok, so yes I'm a little busy at the moment, but when I have played it, I often get a little frustrated by how long it takes me to explore the woods. There is no map I can call up to see where I've been and where I haven't, expect for this weird unreliable dotted path that occasionally flashes up on the screen but disappears before I can get my bearings. There are some cryptic clues for your location in terms of finding the "wolf" but these aren't very helpful when I only want to do that after I've explored everything else. I know the game is supposed to be accessible to non-games players but how about people with poor spatial awareness? I think I am just a little bit impatient when it comes to games, even when I know I should be appreciating the fact that I do actually feel lost in the woods when I play, and all the stunning graphics and music that make up the Path. But I have certain expectations and I guess I get frustrated when I'm not sure how to get from A to B, and at the thought that I could be missing out on something by not exploring everything. Is that enough to question The Path's status as a game? I'm going to go with Leigh Alexander and Fullbright on this one - did I play it? Yes. Then it's a game. Just maybe not the sort I'm used to....

1 comment:

Eumenides said...

hehe from someone that never plays any games this one sounds interesting...
i would probably love just going around in the virtual woods and not actually playing which is what i often do.. next visit to milton keynes i try