Sick to death

Have you ever been sick? If you haven't, you're Bruce Willis in Unbreakable and I hate you for wasting two hours of my life.

But I mean really sick: hallucinations where time constricts and nothing makes much sense, except it does because the fact you're living through it gives it a kind of narrative. Playing Pathologic is like that.

This is a Russian game about a brutal disease sweeping through an isolated town out on a slightly fantasised version of the (Russian, presumably) steppes. It's played over 12 days, with you trying to manipulate the various political factions and uncover the mysteries of the town. Despite being first-person, it's primarily akin to an adventure game, with only vestigial violence. File it next to recent attempts to reinvent the genre such as Fahrenheit and Dreamfall, except - y'know - a bit less successful.


It's graphically remedial. Much of it looks like a mod. Character movements feel stiff, the combat laughable. The translation at times descends into gibberish.

But then you play some more and realise it's really imaginative. Seeing this ugly, desolate city warp as the game progresses is a nasty existential horror. You can sense this game's brain straining to get out, with undeniable flashes of austere philosophy and post-modernist play.

Pathologic leaves me with more love for it than any 52%-scoring game I can think of. In no way should that be taken as a recommendation. This will be someone's favourite game of the year. That somebody almost certainly won't be you.

The verdict

Imaginative, but a little under the weather.

Ice Pick Logic
G2 Games
FPS, Adventure