Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pathologic: WHAT THE HECK?

In late April, early May, as I lay in a feverish haze in Southeast Asia, I stumbled upon this incredible analysis of Russian game Pathologic. After reading it, I couldn't do anything but think about it as my stricken body slowly recovered from what was, I think, the worst meal of ground-up intestines and fish paste I'd ever had or ever will have. The review captured my imagination and took me to some very dark places.

hold on a second
If you don't have the patience to read the analysis here's what this looks like: Pathologic is a game about disease. You play as one of three characters sent (by fate or otherwise) to play a part in the curing of what locals call "the Sand Plague" which, by the end of day one, will have begun to infiltrate the streets of this ill-fortuned town. There's so much going on here--between meta-narrative stagehands to questions of morality to commentaries on their (our) society. Quintin Smith describes all of this with much more eloquence on Rock Paper Shotgun; please read it.

I've teamed up with resident awesome Kevin to tackle the thing myself. After slavering for months, purchasing on Amazon, attempting to get the thing to work on multiple machines, I finally turned to OnLive, which allows me to play the thing on my mac no problem; the catch is that with OnLive one needs to possess A-Grade Internet, which I normally never have. We're playing through much like Quintin did--two buddies suffering through the same experience, stopping at the end of each game day to compare notes, cry, and maybe fall asleep watching Whose Line is it Anyway? or some disturbing Korean revenge flick.

If I can figure out how, I'll post screenshots. Otherwise I'll just rip photos from out there on the internet.

I've got reasons to be excited about this game. I've also got lots of reasons to dread every minute of playing it. In the end, I think it's important to note that, according to Ice Pick Lodge, Pathologic is not a game. I quote, verbatim, from the poorly translated instruction manual:
". . . we think it is necessary to higher up the level of people training in critical situations. Hereby we offer for your attention the simulator of a human being behaviour in the condition of pandemic. 'Pathologic' is the initial game prototype of the simulator. The environment assumes lack of scientific progress and public evolution of the most primitive level; the deseas and methods of fight with it are extremely conditional. The simulator is oriented first of all at a mechanism of taking right decisions. 

There's very little original material we can present aside from first hand experience. I mean, I guess we could re-create the game through photos. It's my understanding that this is a game that yields very different experiences depending both on temperament and the character you pick. I, for one, am a glutton for punishment, and I thrive off of repetition (just check out my iTunes plays). My understanding from the outside is that this is a game that fails all conventions, takes a piss on them, then puts you in a head-lock and lets you watch everything you love die. That makes no sense. I guess I really have no idea what to expect. 

the players

The Bachelor - Daniel Dankovskiy
The young, probably self-righteous intellectual with a microscope. Do you see his serious, piercing eyes?

The Haruspicus - Artemiy Burakh
The heir to a large fortune, now shunned, who will inherit a very strange and grisly legacy. Likewise, he gives a very serious look.

The Devotress - Klara
Joan-of-Arc figure, hailed both as saint and serpent by the townsfolk. Unlike the others, she just looks kinda high.

I'll be playing the Bachelor, and Kevin will be playing the Haruspicus. God help us both.



  2. EEEYAAAAHHH maybe that can be arranged.

  3. I'm playing through as the Devotress now (and I'll be blogging about my play through, since I've never seen a Devotress play through before). Here's the thing: she's REALLY intended to be played last, or at least second. Her outlook on the game spoils certain things for the other characters very quickly, and reveals things about the town that're best kept hidden.

  4. That's the impression I've gotten. I'm trying to gauge whether or not I want to do the Devotress playthrough myself. It's an exhausting game. If I don't end up doing that, I'd be really interested in putting up your posts here or at least linking to them--depending on what you think? Let me know. I know our readers would be interested, anyway.

  5. Go for it! I was going to post my days at, but I'm not at all beholden to the URL; if you'd like to have a complete set of characters for the blog, I'd be glad to contribute!

    (Though perhaps you might want to wait for me to finish a day and write my thoughts, to be sure my writing's up to snuff.)

  6. I'm fascinated. We'll link to it once we've finished chronicling our playthrough, because it's true: the Devotress' campaign makes sense once you know the rest of the game. Our readers will be very interested to hear about it, I think.


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