I guess I'm a little too late, but here are my thoughts on the matter of purchasing this "game."
The mercifully painless short version:
I'd rather be giving ten dollars to charity. Or basically other indie gaming companies that are actually fun, effective, long-lasting, or charming (either/or is fine, I'm not picky after playing The Path) and don't constantly have their nose up in the air with every game they spew out reeking of pretentiousness. It's your money though, so you do what you like with it, this is all just my opinion.
The super merciless and painfully long version that was even painful for me to write:
I think asking if someone is in it for the graphics, soundtrack and gameplay is a little lacking. (and the soundtrack isn't so bad and is actually pretty catchy when it's not torturing you by screeching at some points) I think "if you are looking for something that actually has any playability what-so-ever and doesn't feel like you are contributing to nothing but more snobby games when paying for it, this isn't the game for you" is a more fitting statement.
As a game that constantly tries to get you to see it instead as an "interactive piece of art," it has a lot of faults. For one thing, "interactive piece of art" is what most games, if not all, actually are already. Sure, one could be like an interactive storybook, (Monkey Island) one could be like an interactive novel, (Phoenix Wright) or an interactive painting, (Okami) etc. But the truth still remains: all of those are forms of art. The fact that they made this game, sat back in their chairs and said "yup, this is it, we've just introduced a new form of art in gaming" baffles me. There is nothing even special about the graphics to at least warrant the "interactive painting" notion (or even a screensaver, and there's a lot of very beautiful and artistic screensavers out there) which Okami already took care of. It's just mediocre models and animation enhanced by a bunch of painful bloom and film grain effects.
Is it an interesting game? Sure, what isn't interesting about a game so chock full of symbolism and surrealism that most of could have easily just been slapped on to the game with no meaning at all with the actual artistic merit left up to the player, and thus making you feel as if you won't get any sleep at all if you don't at least try to understand what this game is trying to say, as such is the reaction to any piece of art, whether it's anything special or not?
Now look, I'm not exactly trying my very hardest to be an enormous jerk here, I'm usually a very mellow person. It takes a lot to literally make me physically angry at something that has nothing to do with my personal life or that is hurting anybody. (Tim Buckley would be one of them, and also Japanese visual novels with rape themes that for some god forsaken reason have high praise for having "good writing." [I'm looking at you, Saya No Uta. And nobody look that up. I am seriously not using reverse psychology here, don't look that up if you want to live a peaceful life; it's too late for me, I played the whole thing to review it for a blog. :( ])
So the fact that I'm actually angry at Tale of Tales says something about this company.
This isn't the first time they've let loose their infamy. You should check out this article
on their free game, The Endless Forest. (note that since this is a Somethingawful article, there is lewd humor and cursing, so if that sort of stuff offends you, watch out) Sure the article is hilarious, but just take a look at the hissy fit the creators throw, and the fact that the article itself acknowledges their god complex.
Now that isn't exactly so insulting, I mean it's free, and it's a game about fuzzy deers in a happy forest. Sure they have weird faces and the fanbase is just outright creepy, but there's nothing really there to make anyone angry.
Oh but here's a good idea! Let's release a game where you walk an old lady on a perfectly linear path to a bench in a graveyard, have her sit on it, have a strange foreign song play, and then you walk her out of the graveyard, and that's the end
! BRILLIANT! And it's free! Oh wait, just kidding, you have to pay five measly dollars for the full version that you can be using as a starving college student to feed yourself maybe ten meals worth of ramen. What's the difference between the full version and the free version, you ask? Why, in the full version, the old lady has a 50/50 chance of dying on that bench. ISN'T THAT ARTISTIC? Isn't that totally a basis for a game and not, say, a god damn screensaver?
I'm not even joking, that exists, and that is all you do.
Ok, let me just level to what Tale of Tales is trying to say here. They're trying to introduce some ***revolutionary*** method of art to games, right? So what are they trying to say by making us pay five dollars for the possibility of death? That death is really just a materialistic illusion? That money is truly the epitome of happiness in our lives, even for the sweet release of death? That we are failures as human beings for indulging in a set of pixels instead of using the five dollars to help the actual living folk the song in the game is trying to portray? That for every five dollars you pay for stupid things, an old lady dies somewhere? Okay Tale of Tales, you just made me spend a good hefty amount of my time pondering the notions of your small company, so I guess you did your job. (good thing I never wasted five dollars on it though)
Now to get back on the subject of The Path, it's very hard to describe why I felt this was a colossal waste of my time without spoiling it. Maybe this is just a clever marketing strategy for the "game" but ok I'll try.
First of all, like I've already mentioned, the fact that you are actually supposed to pay for this thing is one of the reasons it ruins it. It tries to insist that everything you decide to do is up to your own choice, and nothing is right or wrong. Except that is completely far off, since there IS a right choice as preferred by the game considering there is a "success" and "failure" ending. This, and the fact that you paid money for it sets you on a mindset of "I paid ten stupid bucks for this game, and I damn well didn't do that to walk to the end of a boring path each time." It's like you choose the explore the forest by obligation and not curiosity, and it's one of the ways this game breaks the fourth wall and makes you see it as a game rather than the emotional effect it supposedly goes for, so there's one failure.
Basically, after you do everything you can do with one of the girls, you'll have about five girls left, and everything from that point on is just a big "it would have been much more fun for me to just look at the rest of this game on youtube" play experience. I can't speak for everyone, but that's how my friend and I felt. We continued to play it because I basically felt bad since this was a gift and all. The sort of feeling you get when playing the first girl is that of "oh god something is going to get me" and "where do I go? Good lord, I'm lost!" However, a lot of horror games that are much more entertaining than this have that effect too when you know nothing of the game. Like I said, I'm not a big fan of Silent Hill (except for that one dog ending) but I have nothing against it and it's a masterpiece compared to this game, and both the literary and game version of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream are wonderful and shouldn't even be compared to this game.
I think mainly what's so off-putting about this game is their "silly gamers, this is ART" attitude. There are far more artistic games that exist already and actually make some sort of attempt to use the gaming medium to its full effect and not underestimate and mock it so blatantly as this one does. And yes, this game does mock you in a lot of places. The creators have said it themselves as much. It's very mature and nice of them!