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Pathologic 2

Developer: Ice-Pick Lodge Publisher: tinyBuild Games
23 May 2019
Pathologic 2 - cover art
Glitchwave rating
4.31 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
282 Ratings /
#23 All-time
#3 for 2019
Resist the plague. Make medicine. Heal people. Perform an autopsy. Trade to get what you need. Fight and kill if necessary. Survive. Struggle with an outbreak in a secluded rural town that is rapidly turning into hell. You can't save everyone.
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Title
"Such is our town. You know it yourself: It's a very good village. Beautiful people live here, infusing it with a very spiritual dream. There's no real, villainous crime here. Even the rats and the thieves are softer."
Certain stories are so deep and strange that you just can't get them off your mind. When I played Yume Nikki as a teenager, I waited with baited breath every day to get off school and reenter that world of dreams. I've watched movies like Jacob's Ladder, Possession, and The Master many times each, trying to peel back their layers of mystery. Books like The Ark Sakura by Kobo Abe, Unclay by T.F. Powys, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews have kept my eyes stapled to the page in wonder, dying to know what happens next. As I get older, fewer and fewer things manage to provoke this level of awe in me. So, I'm grateful Pathologic 2 summoned those feelings in me once again.

This isn't a game you can multitask-- there is no podcast that's appropriate to listen to in the background, no movie you can play in another window and commit half your attention to. Pathologic demands your full attention, so you can concentrate on the beautiful poetry of the dialogue (when a character informs you that they've "been to the river, spoken with the Changeling, seen the soldiers in the fog," my mind went to W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, and Dylan Thomas) bathe in the immersive atmosphere, and fully acquaint yourself with the many empathetically-sketched characters. Everyone will walk away from this game with a favorite character. For some it will be Murky, the lovable orphan girl, for some it'll be Daniil Dankovsky, the effete, cosmopolitan physician, for some it'll be gravel-hearted Lara Ravel, the prickly and beautiful childhood companion who dreams of establishing a sanctuary for the sick. But, whoever your favorite ends up being, you'll know it when it happens, even if you never could've predicted that it was going to be them. I like Murky, Lara, Aspity, Oyun, and Aglaya. This game has fantastic writing, in both its dialogue and its plot beats/quests, and the abundance of good words to read will, in the end, make you feel as if you've read some lost masterpiece by Kafka, Dostoevsky, or Bulgakov.

Culturally, this game is steeped in Russian literature and history, and admirers of the aforementioned authors will feel at home in its pessimism, melancholy, surrealism, and wry humor. Visually, it seems to take from the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Aleksei German, those great Soviet-era film directors who looked at Russia's blasted landscapes and depopulated industrial zones and imagined a science-fictional world of the spirit, a psychic place where man constantly dreams and dreams again of a society better than all the ones we've managed to devise so far. You don't need a familiarity with Russian art and culture to play this game, but if you have a working knowledge of it, you'll be amazed at the way it continues and expands the work of those great artists of the past.

Something that particularly amazed me was the story it told of an indigenous man, Artemy Burakh, half white and half native to the Siberian steppe (or, rather, native to a thinly veiled composite of several indigenous Northeast Asian racial groups-- the Kin are a fictional tribe, but they are very believable, and closely modeled after real groups from Siberia and Mongolia). The white denizens of the Town fight for Artemy's allegiant soul, and the steppe-dwelling Kin do as well. The whites see him as a truant native man, and the Kin sees him as a prodigal son, a man aspiring to whiteness. His speech is peppered with the language of his indigenous heritage, and yet fewer and vanishingly fewer of those he speaks to can understand those words. I have never seen a smarter or more subtle depiction of race and colonialism in a video game.

And, of course, there is the disease pandemic, the "sand plague," as it's called in P2. Astoundingly, P2 was released mere months before the COVID-19 outbreak, and it's eerily prescient of the trials we face now. In P2, uninfected citizens will assure you that the sick aren't worth treating, since they're essentially already dead. This is a horrible reflection of our own world, where the elderly and infirm are used as bartering chips for our economies, where the most vulnerable among us are encouraged to lay their lives on the line to give money to corporations and to grease the wheels of finance. Let the old folks go to the Applebee's, they say-- Applebee's needs the money, and if the old folks die, it was their time.

This game was an independent production and has a few gameplay janks and quirks. Others have noted its poor optimization, and, indeed, its performance was choppy on my computer, stuttering and chugging along basically every time I played. That I stuck with it is a credit to its quality in other areas. Another flaw that I haven't seen others complaining about is its undercooked day/night system, which is a little unsophisticated and can cause storytelling and immersion problems. Many quests become unavailable at midnight, and while the pressure to start and finish quests in a timely manner usually added wonderful layers of suspense, on at least one occasion I would start a quest at 11:30pm, get halfway through it, and then watch helplessly as all the relevant NPCs vanished around me as the clock struck twelve, rendering the quest unfinishable. This is probably the biggest complaint I can file against Pathologic 2, and since it's a complaint that will ultimately encourage me to happily replay the game, I can't call it a major problem.

This is a smart and uncondescending game. It will not hold your hand or tell you how to win. It expects you use your mind and your creativity. If you do, you'll be rewarded. It is deep, immersive, emotional, and will stick with you for a long time.
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saltmarieceleste 2020-07-27T19:41:57Z
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Catalog

Desert05Mr Pathologic 2 2022-05-20T04:20:47Z
Windows
2022-05-20T04:20:47Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
WolfLesbian Pathologic 2 2022-05-19T18:38:39Z
2022-05-19T18:38:39Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
LifeIsStress Pathologic 2 2022-05-19T10:46:01Z
2022-05-19T10:46:01Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
mdct77 Pathologic 2 2022-05-18T08:21:05Z
2022-05-18T08:21:05Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
peebles_ Pathologic 2 2022-05-17T19:13:25Z
2022-05-17T19:13:25Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
atmosphere^ narrative^ gameplay^ level design^
luna128 Pathologic 2 2022-05-16T03:49:17Z
2022-05-16T03:49:17Z
100
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Shammi095 Pathologic 2 2022-05-14T15:49:43Z
2022-05-14T15:49:43Z
5.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Darioh Pathologic 2 2022-05-13T05:36:45Z
2022-05-13T05:36:45Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
notscrumpyjack Pathologic 2 2022-05-11T07:09:56Z
2022-05-11T07:09:56Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
johnnyjoekid Pathologic 2 2022-05-09T23:41:39Z
2022-05-09T23:41:39Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
TNTILl Pathologic 2 2022-05-09T08:44:12Z
Xbox One / Windows
2022-05-09T08:44:12Z
5.0
2
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
hanl3po Pathologic 2 2022-05-08T18:56:15Z
2022-05-08T18:56:15Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Player modes
Single-player
Early access date
30 aug 2018
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  • Мор
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  • Previous comments (46) Loading...
  • thesearefallcolors 2022-01-07 07:45:36.441249+00
    Haven't finished this yet but the introduction is the best in any game ever. Absolutely haunting all while mocking you for thinking that any of the horrors you see can be avoided.
    reply
    • YasashiiDia 2022-02-06 19:53:34.997694+00
      Agreed, this game's opening had me hooked instantly. To quote a list of mine: "Imagine if Come and See opened with its final set piece, except more surreal and in the dead of night."
    • More replies New replies ) Loading...
  • Travis_Bickle_Abides 2022-02-13 08:06:48.525111+00
    The ending was ruined due to a glitch that wouldn't start any dialogue in the final area. I was so pissed
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