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Pathologic, source of the best game review I've ever seen - Input Junkie
December 7th, 2008
12:53 pm

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Pathologic, source of the best game review I've ever seen
The review is harrowing enough for me.

Pathologic is a game which has been major in Russia, but not elsewhere. It's got more bleak than a normal person can imagine. And atmosphere. And clever ways of cranking up the tension, including that your character's mere maintenance (food and sleep and such) is a constant challenge. It's a game where when you finally get a revolver, your best choice is to trade it for a little food.

Normally, game reviews all blur together for me. I expect to remember this one, but I only recommend it if you have at least some taste for horror.

If you intend to play the game, I recommend skipping the third section of the review. It gives away a major emotional/thematic twist.

Link thanks to andrewducker.

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:catbirdgirl
Date:December 7th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
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is this board game or rpg? if board game I might be thinking of a winter holiday present for hubby, esp since it's obscure...
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From:nancylebov
Date:December 7th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
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RPG.

Edited at 2008-12-07 05:51 pm (UTC)
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From:agrumer
Date:December 7th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)
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Computer game.
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From:nancylebov
Date:December 7th, 2008 08:06 pm (UTC)
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Tou're right-- if I don't see a reply from the person who sent the question, I'll email her. Not that it matters a lot, since she was looking for a board game, but I might as well pin down the corners.

Edited at 2008-12-07 08:07 pm (UTC)
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From:cucumberseed
Date:December 7th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC)
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This is exactly what I was looking for in terms of inspiration.

God help me.
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From:inertiacrept
Date:December 8th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
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I read that review awhile ago and came away frenzied to play Pathologic, then I read reviews that suffered less from OMG THIS GAME IS TRANSCENDENTAL, and it sounded like the most frustrating thing ever designed.

What really stopped me, besides pure inattention and forgetfulness, was the frequent lament that the game, while being very much dialogue driven, was butchered by the translators to the point of incomprehensibility, but that a translation project was in the works.

Know anything about it?
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From:lightningb
Date:December 8th, 2008 01:26 am (UTC)

Welcome to Russian History

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Bleak hopelessness and despair? Struggle to survive? Everybody lying to you? Brutal, random outside forces?

Yup, it's Russian all right.

If you want to get really depressed sometime, just read Russian history. Communism is only the latest of a long sequence of outrages.
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From:siderea
Date:December 8th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
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Thanks for linking. I'll probably gak post thesis.
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From:mneme
Date:December 8th, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC)
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It actually sounds like a lot of fun. Brutal, bleak, horrific fun, but aside from spending a lot of time waiting for your guy to walk everywhere, still fun.
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From:nancylebov
Date:December 9th, 2008 12:05 am (UTC)
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Fun is one of those ill-defined words....

Edited at 2008-12-09 12:06 am (UTC)
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From:mneme
Date:December 9th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
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It is, a bit.

But it's really a bit of a bogon, IMO, to think it means you have to be joyous all the time; fun is the result of happiness due to play (and other sources of enjoyment)--but that play can have unpleasant aspects to it as well as pleasant ones, and as long as the aggregate is enjoyable, its fun.

I mean, even outside of BDSM (though it's obviously relevant), horror movies, spicy food, and even romantic tear-jerkers, etc can have unpleasant bits or even wholes; games (even solitaire) can be frustrating or just horrifying (as the above mentioned one is). But the whole point, usually, is that the aggregate experience is, well, fun. You're not doing it for self-improvement or appearance's sake or cash and prizes, so at least in theory, there's an expectation of fun -- and if you do it again and again, one hopes it even delivers.
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From:nancylebov
Date:December 9th, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
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One starting point is that people want intensity as well as comfort.

And you can add most sports to your list of complex hobbies. It's obviously true of training (though people tend to make training more painful than is safe or useful), but it also applies to spectators who'd rather stay attached to a team when it's losing than give up on it.
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From:radiotelescope
Date:December 15th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
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That was a terrific review, of a game I'd never heard of. Thanks.

I can see that Pathologic's game model would be really effective, but I don't think I could play it. I can't even play happy friendly games where food-finding and resource-hunting are important challenges. I get bored, or I get into a super-safe mode where I have to find everything. It sounds like neither of those would get me through Pathologic.

I think that intensity-and-unpleasantness is more common in (graphical) adventure games. I've played several of those that had the dark oppressive atmosphere -- although *not* the game mechanics of having to constantly work to stay alive. (Adventure games usually don't make survival a point of game contention.)

Perhaps not by coincidence, a lot of recent adventure games are produced in Europe. There's a reasonably well-known Czech studio; I just played a German game and a Russian one recently. (There's a US publisher that stays on top of finding these small game productions and getting them translated and published in the US.) I think the pure adventure game has become enough of a niche market that it can afford to be more indie and experimental in feel.
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