Introduction...The traces of the supernatural let themselves be found much more often than the educated and the enlightened are comfortable with. From prehistoric times come chimaeras that were worshiped by our ancestors hundreds of years ago. Ashes fall on us from the low hanging clouds, dropped haphazardly by the directors of our fate.
...They hide below us, above us and among us, until we turn our sight straight towards their cunning eyes, and then they, having been found, for a moment, become flesh and blood. Then, they die, but, in their dying agony, they tear at the fabric of the surrounding world, which they rightfully consider to be their plaything...
THE MEAT OF IT ALL
Pathologic is a first-person adventure game, developed in 2005 by Ice-Pick Lodge, a ragtag indie developer from Russia who are responsible for a number of other great games, which includine The Void, Cargo! The Quest for Gravity and their latest creation Knock-Knock. Ice-Pick Lodge have a penchant for creating unusual, hard-to-get-into games that reward those who take time to immerse themselves in them with nuance, wit and a trip they won't forget for a while.
Pathologic itself, in my opinion, is their best creation yet.
Set in a haunting, half-magic half-real town, the game features three characters taking on a deadly plague that threatens to wipe a small steppe town from the face of the earth in 12 days. The game's mechanics are harsh and rigid - something that will surely turn off a great many of gamers. One cannot blame them, either, for Pathologic is not, by any means, an enjoyable game in the conventional sense of the word. You have to keep track of a great many a stat and do so while performing daily tasks, as well as side-mission given to you by NPCs. The character moves at a leisurely pace, the supplies are hard to come across and managing your time in an efficient manner without having previous experience is an absolute nightmare.
The game isn't particularly fun to play, but it's certainly much more fun to watch. Quite unfortunately, the official English translation is utterly abysmal, which means that not a lot of English-speaking folks got to enjoy the game properly, if at all. Quite fortunately, however, I happen to be a native Russian speaker with a lot of time on my hands and a love for translating obscure, off-the-wall things and I am happy to oblige those interested in the continued exploration of Pathologic. My English is on the good side, or so I might hope, but if you find something glaring in the translation, or you happen object to any stylistic choices that I might make, please don't hesitate let me know.
There has already been an LP of Pathologic, from the point of view of Impostress, made by one and only woodenchicken. He has done an excellent job of it and you can find it here. Please don't hesitate to read it - you can do so before reading this LP or afterwards, or during - whichever way you desire.
Since I'm not at all sure that I will be going for an LP of Bachelor's and Impostress' scenarios, I have decided, with woodenchicken's blessing, to adhere to the same formatting conventions and reuse some of the assets from his LP. The idea behind this is to try and make them a connected experience, of a sort. The reason I'm playing through Haruspex's scenario is because that is the one that hasn't been played through for the pleasure of SA LP readers yet, and I think it would be both stylistically satisfying and slightly less legwork for me (absolutely not the reason I'm doing this, no sir) to keep the format and some of the assets the same.
This means the following
- Dialogue will be accompanied by characters' portraits.
- Italicized text indicates the various writings found in diaries, journals and letters that will be accrued during the playthrough.
- Bolded text will indicate the flavour pieces written by yours truly to set the mood and provide my own thoughts on the plot and characters' thoughts and motivations.
- Text in the screenshots above characters' heads indicates dialogue lines that are spoken by the characters once, when you approach them but before initiating the dialogue. They are fairly ephemeral and seem to adress no one in particular, but they are still worth paying great attention to.
- Film icon indicates the cutscenes - infrequent and rather ugly guests that aren't doing very well in our decade and are there to occasionally expand the story.
- Soundtrack icons will be occasionally included and clicking them is recommended for proper mood adjustment.
MEET THE HARUSPEX
Artemiy Burakh, or, as the game refers to him, the Haruspex, is a man deeply rooted in the local folklore and tradition but is also a man who has been uprooted. Sent away to study and practice medicine by his father, Isidore Burakh, Artemiy is listless, traveling from town to town and practicing his medical and surgical skills, all the while waiting for that moment when he can finally return home. Artemiy belongs to a lineage of menkhu - servants of the Order and the only ones who are, according to the local customs, allowed to dissect corpses of living beings and harvest their organs. One day, Artemiy receives a letter from his father, warning him of a coming danger and urging him to swiftly return home. Upon doing so, Artemiy finds out that his father is dead, gets blamed for a murderer of another man and is forced to fight to restore his name and to uncover the nature of the doom that is about to engulf his hometown.
Unlike the Impostress, Haruspex is a man of few words who is much more straightforward, although cruel sarcasm here and occasional witty remark there aren't all that alien to him. Nevertheless, there are several features that set him apart from the other two characters - features that tie in with his menkhu acumen. His scenario is also much more combat heavy and a bit harder than Bachelor's, although he isn't forced to do as much fetching as poor Impostress is.
Haruspex's scenario is called The Sacrifice.
THE ORDER OF THINGS
1)Despite the visibility of choice in the dialogue, the game isn't particularly branching and, as such, I will be picking the options that are the most interesting or are the ones that show the most.
2)Having previously read the Impostress LP, some readers, armed with prior knowledge of some of the happenings in the town, might be tempted to drop spoilers at the mere presence of foreshadowing - and there will be quite a lot of it, too. Please, No Major Spoilers ahead of time . There aren't many, but there are a couple.
3)I won't be showing most of the combat and gathering gameplay I'll be engaging in - mostly because it's fairly bland and poorly done and also because there is a lot of it and it can get quite tedious - especially in Haruspex's scenario.
4)Chapters correspond with days and will be broken up into several parts. The number of parts is uneven, as some days are meatier than the rest.
With most of the clerical stuff over, let us be off.
REEL 1: The Funeral, Once More
Table of Contents
- Chapter One - Part 1
- Chapter One - Part 2
- Chapter One - Part 3
- Addendum A - The Nightly Attractions
- Chapter Two - Part 1
- Chapter Two - Part 2
- Chapter Three - Part 1
- Chapter Three - Part 2
- Chapter Four
- Chapter Five - Part 1
- Chapter Five - Part 2
- Chapter Six - Part 1
- Chapter Six - Part 2
- Chapter Seven - Part 1
- Chapter Seven - Part 2
- Chapter Eight - Part 1
- Chapter Eight - Part 2
- Chapter Eight - Part 3
- Chapter Nine - Part 1
- Chapter Nine - Part 2
- Chapter Ten - Part 1
- Chapter Ten - Part 2
- Chapter Eleven
- Chapter Twelve - Part 1
- Chapter Twelve - part 2
- Main cast in order of appearance