Previews// PAX East 2017: Pathologic

Posted 6 Apr 2017 12:13 by
The word 'insanity' and variants thereof is used a great deal. But few people really know what it means to be insane in the true sense of the word. It's akin to losing a limb as the brain is no longer working as one is used to.

Pathologic, a remake of a game originally released in 2002, demonstrates this so very well by having the player take on the roles of people in a dying city as they try to prevent the spread of a plague, and they know they are fighting a losing battle.

In the demo I played at PAX East 2017 I took the role of The Bachelor. Ostensibly a medical doctor, he has done so much for the people in the city that he has started to lose his grip on reality. So much so that his dreams mirror reality, with only slight inconsistencies that show the character is in fact having a fevered dream and not treating a patient.

Pathologic is a first-person action adventure game where the player takes the role of three characters - the Bachelor, the Haruspex and the Changeling. They experience the events taking place in a city as it decays in a lifeless ruin and they do what they can to stop the inevitable.

Pathologic is a difficult game to digest and the short time I had with it left me feeling claustrophobic. The environment is very oppressive and the sense of hopelessness on the part of the strange characters that the player encounters only adds to this bleak atmosphere.

If that's so and clearly Pathologic does not subscribe to the Blue Sky Campaign of game design, then the question has to be asked, why would anyone subject themselves to it?

My only response to that is without experiencing what one would consider to be uncomfortable then you will not develop a sense of empathy and by the same token expand one's knowledge of humanity and how people cope with extremely stressful situations. Pathologic is about that at its core and it is unapologetic about it.

If you would prefer for every game you play to contain the Care Bears version of reality then move on, Pathologic is not for you. But if you want to understand just a little more about why people are the way they are, then I'd recommend you take a gander at Pathologic. You'll probably learn a bit about yourself too.

Pathologic is due out later this year on Steam for Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4.

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