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Old 06-16-2017   #1
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Pathologic

A Russian survival game that will be worthwhile to some Ligottians here.



It's unique due to its aesthetic, text-heavy, Russian mystical plot. It is about surviving in a plague-ridden town and the difficult choices one has to make. As news of the plague spreads, prices fluctuate sometimes to astronomical level and desperation sets in for everyone. Slow, creeping anxiety, desperation, paranoia, and distrust heighten as there is only 24 hr a day and every careless action lowers your chance of survival.

It's infamous for being hard, and that's definitely true The only auto-regenerative stat below is Immunity, for the others you have to consume scarce resources to replete them. Weapons and clothings degrade by a % after each usage and they are expensive to repair/upgrade. Complete cure of infection is extremely rare and antibiotics slow down infection but damage health badly, so the fear of infection is real . There is a bartering economy in which you trade trinkets with children for valuables, but they are fickle.
Fun map of how every choice is damning in the game, but in actuality it's not linear as shown here.


Scenes of the town






I don't want to spoil the story too much, but it is more than about the plague. The fight between the humans and the incomprehensible, the science and the mystical...it conveys each side well.

"So in the end it remains advisable to accept whatever comes, to behave like an inert mass even if one feels oneself being swept away, not to be lured into a single unneccesary step, to regard others with the gaze of an animal, to feel no remorse, in short to crush with one's own hand any ghost of life that subsists, that is, to intensify the final quiet of the grave still further and let nothing beyond that endure." ---Franz Kafka, Resolutions
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Old 06-16-2017   #2
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Re: Pathologic

Yeah, Pathologic has a very Ligottian vibe to it. If any one is wanting to check it out though, it might be worth waiting for the forthcoming remake of the game, which can be sampled by playing the free, standalone, pre-alpha demo, 'Pathologic: The Marble Nest.'

I think the best summation I can think of for Pathologic is that it is one of the most enjoyable forms of not having fun in the history of video games. ;) But then, even Ice Pick Lodge themselves have said that it isn't necessarily meant to be fun to play. It's meant to punish you. In some ways, it feels very much like a video game take on Russian literature.

Also worth mentioning is Ice Pick Lodge's other notable title, 'The Void'. Not so much of the Ligottian atmosphere with that one, but it is one of the most surreal, and in parts beautiful, video games I've ever come across.
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Old 06-17-2017   #3
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Re: Pathologic

Quote Originally Posted by In A Dark Light View Post
Yeah, Pathologic has a very Ligottian vibe to it. If any one is wanting to check it out though, it might be worth waiting for the forthcoming remake of the game, which can be sampled by playing the free, standalone, pre-alpha demo, 'Pathologic: The Marble Nest.'

I think the best summation I can think of for Pathologic is that it is one of the most enjoyable forms of not having fun in the history of video games. ;) But then, even Ice Pick Lodge themselves have said that it isn't necessarily meant to be fun to play. It's meant to punish you. In some ways, it feels very much like a video game take on Russian literature.

Also worth mentioning is Ice Pick Lodge's other notable title, 'The Void'. Not so much of the Ligottian atmosphere with that one, but it is one of the most surreal, and in parts beautiful, video games I've ever come across.
I'm glad to meet another Pathologic player here. I've seen Marble Nest videos on youtube but always thought it's an online game. Thanks for telling me about it and I'll check out The Void.

"So in the end it remains advisable to accept whatever comes, to behave like an inert mass even if one feels oneself being swept away, not to be lured into a single unneccesary step, to regard others with the gaze of an animal, to feel no remorse, in short to crush with one's own hand any ghost of life that subsists, that is, to intensify the final quiet of the grave still further and let nothing beyond that endure." ---Franz Kafka, Resolutions
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Old 06-17-2017   #4
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Re: Pathologic

Quote Originally Posted by ToALonelyPeace View Post
Quote Originally Posted by In A Dark Light View Post
Yeah, Pathologic has a very Ligottian vibe to it. If any one is wanting to check it out though, it might be worth waiting for the forthcoming remake of the game, which can be sampled by playing the free, standalone, pre-alpha demo, 'Pathologic: The Marble Nest.'

I think the best summation I can think of for Pathologic is that it is one of the most enjoyable forms of not having fun in the history of video games. ;) But then, even Ice Pick Lodge themselves have said that it isn't necessarily meant to be fun to play. It's meant to punish you. In some ways, it feels very much like a video game take on Russian literature.

Also worth mentioning is Ice Pick Lodge's other notable title, 'The Void'. Not so much of the Ligottian atmosphere with that one, but it is one of the most surreal, and in parts beautiful, video games I've ever come across.
I'm glad to meet another Pathologic player here. I've seen Marble Nest videos on youtube but always thought it's an online game. Thanks for telling me about it and I'll check out The Void.
You can download Marble Nest for free from steam.

There's actually a really good analysis of 'The Void' available on YouTube. Search 'The Void Ragnar Rox' and see if it whets your appetite any.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #5
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Re: Pathologic

I recently played Pathologic alongside reading Camus' The Plague. Surprisingly the former was far superior, both aesthetically and intellectually. Pathologic has a lot more to it - Dostoevskian existential family saga complete with Russian Cosmism and Siberian Shamanism.

Some general thoughts about Pathologic (spoiler heavy material last)

One of its great virtues is that way in which it eschews cliche in terms of characterization. It would have been very easy to have the Bachelor and Haruspex as straight up ciphers for Science/Progress and Tradition/Magic respectively. Instead their characters are multi-facted and develop according to circumstance: the Bachelor is skeptical of the Kaines' purported mystical abilities but he soon comes to accept them, just as he does the benefits (and possibilities) of the Kin's herb based healing. Likewise the Haruspex studies modern medicine and is mildly affronted when the Bachelor feels the need to explain how anti-serums work to him.

(The two characters do have a sort of Dostoevskian opposition to them - the Bachelor is a Byronic, Promethean Raskolnikov style character who seeks to challenge the mortal order whilst the Haruspex has that Alyosha prophet amidst the children who will inherit the earth)

The plague itself and the story behind it is distrubing and compelling. Whereas in the Camus' the plague is just a means to showcase certain aspects of human nature in extremis in Pathologic the plague itself is a metaphysical question. Is there intelligence behind it? Where does it come from and why? Is it a personification of Evil? (maybe it thinks the same of you?) Is it Sin (closer... but what sin and who's?). Many of the scenarios one might think are just game mechanics i.e. ulcerated buildings or floating plague clouds with skull faces, are in fact seen by characters in game (the Bachelor remarks on the plague clouds to Clara). The Sand Plague wants to be seen, it wants the world to witness its horrifying nature.

Some aspects of it are very Ligottian, for instance the way it literally warps the districts which it infects - the buildings taken on the aspect of purulent flesh, plants and trees grow deformed and even the light itself takes on a different hue. It reminds me of those descriptions in 'Mystics of Muelenburg' of how the city changes in the darkness - the Lovecraftian tree and the thing in the fountain.

Spoiler filled points both about plot and game-play:





Another achievement is the depth and richness of character development. There are no straight-out villains in the game, only characters who do bad things. The very worst actions e.g. the Olgiminskys' locking up the Termitary to try to hide the outbreak or the Foreman's murder of Artemy's father, are often committed by good but fundamentally weak people who panic in the face of adversity. The Kaine's themselves are certainly not villains, far from it - from all we learn throughout Simon is more like a Rosicrucian Sage than a Black Magician: he 'cast off all the evil in his heart', used his soul to build a new world wherein people are immune to all the vicissitudes of this one including death and can construct their own reality from dream, and sacrificed his mortal frame so that a plague vaccine could be created.

Game play point: the game itself is not difficult, only since the main thing to be won from it is plot advancement and further background information one often needs to have the same conversation with a character multiple times, resetting after each so as one can try other dialogue options. If one does not do this one ends missing some of the most fascinating and effective tip-bits of info in the game e.g. Aspity's wonderfully creepy description of the plague 'speaking to your soul' or Taya's revelation about Isidore and the true origins of the plague. This particularly pertinent in Clara's scenario.

Finally: that scene in the Polyhedron where the character learns that the whole town and they themselves are just part of a children's game. I take this to be an instance of cyclical causation. If you go through the dialogues with the Bachelor carefully you will see that the two children mention dreams coming to life and angled mirrors, the language of the Polyhedron's workings. They create the world of Pathologic with Polyhedron tech which includes the creation of the Polyhedron, the inhabitants of which create them. Anyone got any thoughts on this?

Last edited by Evans; 2 Weeks Ago at 09:01 AM..
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #6
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Re: Pathologic

Quote Originally Posted by Evans View Post
I recently played Pathologic alongside reading Camus' The Plague. Surprisingly the former was far superior, both aesthetically and intellectually. Pathologic has a lot more to it - Dostoevskian existential family saga complete with Russian Cosmism and Siberian Shamanism.

Some general thoughts about Pathologic (spoiler heavy material last)

One of its great virtues is that way in which it eschews cliche in terms of characterization. It would have been very easy to have the Bachelor and Haruspex as straight up ciphers for Science/Progress and Tradition/Magic respectively. Instead their characters are multi-facted and develop according to circumstance: the Bachelor is skeptical of the Kaines' purported mystical abilities but he soon comes to accept them, just as he does the benefits (and possibilities) of the Kin's herb based healing. Likewise the Haruspex studies modern medicine is mildly affronted when the Bachelor affronted when the Bachelor feels the need to explain how anti-serums work to him.

(The two characters do have a sort of Dostoevskian opposition to them - the Bachelor is a Byronic, Promethean Raskolnikov style character who seeks to challenge the mortal order whilst the Haruspex has that Alyosha prophet amidst the children who will inherit the earth)

The plague itself and the story behind it is distrubing and compelling. Whereas in the Camus' the plague is just a meanings to showcase certain aspects of human nature in extremis in Pathologic the plague itself is a metaphysical question. Is there intelligence behind it? Where does it come from and why? Is it a personification of Evil? (maybe it thinks the same of you?) Is it Sin (closer... but what sin and who's?). Many of the scenarios one might think are just game mechanics i.e. ulcerated buildings or floating plague clouds with skull faces, are in fact seen by characters in game (the Bachelor remarks on the plague clouds to Clara). The Sand Plague wants to be seen, it wants the world to witness its horrifying nature.

Some aspects of it are very Ligottian, for instance the way it literally warps the districts which it infects - the buildings taken on the aspect of purulent flesh, plants and trees grow deformed and even the light itself takes on a different hue. It reminds me of those descriptions in 'Mystics of Muelenburg' of how the city changes in the darkness - the Lovecraftian tree and the thing in the fountain.

Spoiler filled points both about plot and game-play:





Another achievement is the depth and richness of character development. There are no straight-out villains in the game, only characters who do bad things. The very worst actions e.g. the Olgiminskys' locking up the Termitary to try to hide the outbreak or the Foreman's murder of Artemy's father, are often committed by good but fundamentally weak people who panic in the face of adversity. The Kaine's themselves are certainly not villains, far from it - from all we learn throughout Simon is more like a Rosicrucian Sage than a Black Magician: he 'cast off all the evil in his heart', used his soul to build a new world wherein people are immune to all the vicissitudes of this one including death and can construct their own reality from dream, and sacrificed his mortal frame so that a plague vaccine good be created.

Game play point: the game itself is not difficult, only since the main thing to be won from it is plot advancement and further background information one often needs to have the same conversation with a character multiple times, resetting after each so as one can try other dialogue options. If one does not do this one ends missing some of the most fascinating and effective tip-bits of info in the game e.g. Aspity's wonderfully creeping description of the plague 'speaking to your soul' or Taya's revelation about Isidore and the true origins of the plague. This particularly pertinent in Clara's scenario.

Finally: that scene in the Polyhedron where the character learns that the whole town and they themselves are just part of a children's game. I take this to be an instance of cyclical causation. If you go through the dialogues with the Bachelor carefully you will see that the two children mention dreams coming to life and angled mirrors, the language of the Polyhedron's workings. They create the world of Pathologic with Polyhedron tech which includes the creation of the Polyhedron, the inhabitants of which create them. Anyone got any thoughts on this?
I recently tried playing this game because the atmosphere is appealing to me. However, I was playing using a touch pad. I suppose I need to purchase a mouse before reinstalling the thing.

... or I can wait for the newer version which will be released for the PS4.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #7
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Re: Pathologic

For those not perturbed by spoilers, this incredibly in-depth video analysis of Pathologic (it's over two hours long), is well worth a watch.

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Re: Pathologic

@ Evans

The last point about the Polyhedron is very reminiscent of the idea of God being self-caused, whether in the manner of Aristotle's unmoved mover, or in the sense described by German Idealism, i.e., pure mediation. Even though I've only played an hour of the game, it's clear, based on your own description, that the Polyhedron has a divine status.

The game's opening also resembles Greek drama, in which the plot is put forth before the actual events occur. There seems to be a strong emphasis on the notion of Fate throughout the game, which is consistent with its theatrical presentation. Fate, as you probably know, was higher than any god in Greek mythology.

Polyhedron = God = Fate?

Man, I need to actually play the game in its entirety.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Re: Pathologic

I have to gather the will to play this game. I'm sure it's something I'd love if I get into it (I played a bit of it). but it seems like it could be a bit stressful (from the information I've gathered about it) and I'm full of anxiety.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #10
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Re: Pathologic

I have played through the Bachelor road (nice for beginner) and yeah, the player will be stressed alright. It's designed that way since the Bachelor is fresh from the city and he'll be unnerved by everything.

I haven't played the Haruspex since I saw you'll have to collect a specific yellow plant in a field of yellow meadows. I don't see in yellow well

I'm not sure if I should create another thread for this but play Тургор (The Void in English) , created by the same studio, if you have the chance. Thank to @In A Dark Light, I got to play this beautiful game.

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There's a popular analysis of the game on youtube

Too bad SulMaTul haven't make any video on it.

"So in the end it remains advisable to accept whatever comes, to behave like an inert mass even if one feels oneself being swept away, not to be lured into a single unneccesary step, to regard others with the gaze of an animal, to feel no remorse, in short to crush with one's own hand any ghost of life that subsists, that is, to intensify the final quiet of the grave still further and let nothing beyond that endure." ---Franz Kafka, Resolutions
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