What's Pathologic All about? First a group of children bury a doll. Then a theatrical scene introduces a doctor, a haruspex (gory soothsayer) and a young girl, who are debating an unspecified dilemma. You then choose to play as the doctor or haruspex (completing it with either unlocks the girl), and appear in an unsettling Steppes town where you must investigate a disease/scarecrow/cannibal that's killed an immortal and plunged the town into anarchy.
As you puzzle through the plot, a giant carved crow and a mime artist crop up and talk directly to you, the gamer, about game theory. Horrifying binbag monsters arbitrarily attack you. Characters talk in badly translated allegories, spin poetry and philosophise about fate in a looping narrative. We couldn't imagine a more pretentious, pseudo-highbrow experience without putting Brian Sewell and Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen in a gene-splicer.
There are issues. The combat is mind-bogglingly hard. The language is so convoluted you rapidly experience word-blindness. It shares the lush sadistic design of the legendarily bastardly Harlan Ellison game I Have No Mouth, And 1 Must Scream. Each day you must do the right things in the right place at the right time or you will die, simply put.
If you're open to having your brain stretched in a world that's both gorgeous and unfair, then give Pathologic a try. Be warned though; it's ultimately more a work of art than a game, and you will have to suffer for their art.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP