Released in the final weeks of 2019, Pathologic 2 is a ‘sequel’ for a game from the Russian studio Ice-Pick Lodge game published in 2005. ‘Sequel’ between cotes because this game was initially planned as a remake of the original game, the game came out as a total reimagination of the original title, now published by tinyBuild.
In this survival game, the sand plague, a strange and very lethal disease that is ravaging a rural city in times of war. Playing as the surgeon Artemy Burakh, you arrive in this city in the middle of the crisis, answering to a letter from your dad – who has just passed away – and will be responsible to find a cure for this disease within 12 days. You are the only one who can save the city – even though you can’t save everyone.
What we liked!
- Sound: The sinister music, good sound effects and outstanding voice work in Pathologic 2 are really impressive! The initial sequence, as much as the songs played during sinister moments of the adventure are truly remarkable! That said, the absence of music in other moments of the adventure looks a little bit strange, but only adds to the atmosphere of this thrilling and melancholy adventure. And now we mentioned its atmosphere…
- Atmosphere: The developers of Ice-Pick Lodge were really inspired when designing the world of Pathologic. The adventure takes place in a town lost in time and space composed by a mix of the Russian culture before the 1917 Revolution and ancient traditions of the steppe inhabitants, full of weird customs and odd superstitions. And with it, they created one of the most intriguing adventure games I’ve played in the last months! The combination of audio and visual created a remarkable atmosphere for this title. The studio designed very convincing streets, villas and building interiors. The good lighting effects, smoke fog and creepy characters will give you chills down your spine!
- Economy: In the streets of Gorkhon – the city where this adventure takes place – you will find stores selling clothes, food and medicine. But if you are short on money, you can always exchange items with the population. Almost every NPC roaming on the streets may be interested in some of the items you may be carrying. This adds an interesting level of interaction that may help you…
- Surviving out in the wild: The survival mechanics of the game are pretty interesting. Besides taking care of your health, your character will have to deal with hunger, thirsty, stamina, contamination. You need to look for food, water, medicines and a place to lay down your head not to be visited by death… at least, not before the appropriate time.
- Timed adventure: It may be a very personal complaint here, but I didn’t enjoy the fact that you have limited time to explore the city. You will find yourself constantly rushing from one place to another, trying to complete all your tasks before the end of the day – and the inevitable consequences that come along with it. Combine it with the necessity to keep your health, hunger and thirst under control and you will have serious problems attending to all the tasks, do all your missions and still find time to look for items in its huge scenario. I understand the developers wanted you not to have enough time to visit everywhere and do everything – but it was annoying to see some branches of the story become unreachable for me because I haven’t accomplished an earlier mission. So, keep in mind that if you want to fully explore the city and its mysteries and don’t want to keep backtracking, you’ll need more than one go with this title.
- Confusing story: Once you start the game, you will receive a message warning you that you will be thrown in the middle of the action with no further explanations. But don’t you worry: soon the game starts to make a little more sense – but not that much – and you will understand your role in the fate of this city. But still, you will be left wondering what is real and what is just a fruit of your mind. It’s worth mentioning that the ancient traditions of the steppe people mentioned in the intro play a relevant role in the story of this game. Following Burakh’s conversation with these people was difficult for me and I feel like I missed some important leads in these talks.
What we disliked
- Fighting for your life: The city inhabitants don’t trust you. Keep it in mind. If they see you committing some sort of crime (be it stealing something, breaking into someone’s place or threating someone), they will attack you using sharp weapons or their bare hands. The clashes are fast and unfair – especially when more than one enemy is surrounding you. If you have the advantage, the enemy can give-up and try to run from you. But it was a rare thing to see because most of the time I was having my ass kicked by them. All because they have an unblockable attack that will have you dizzy and defenseless for a brief moment – long enough for your enemies to eliminate you. This unbalanced combat was quite frustrating to me.
- Bundle: The game is also available in a bundle format, including a 3-hour DLC where you play as the Bachelor, another doctor trying to save the city from the plague. It’s nice to have this different perspective of the story, but since this DLC is (or at least was) already available since 2016 as a playable free demo for PCs, it feels unfair with console players to have to pay for it.
- Weird animations: The characters in this game are very well designed, showing a lot of effort to put on a great level of detail in each individual. Their animations and facial expressions, though, could have had some more time in the oven to reach their full potential.
‘You can’t save everyone’. This phrase was still hovering above my head when I was trying to sleep after I stopped playing Pathologic 2. This game goes beyond the idea of a superhero, who will do whatever it takes to save everyone in need, and presents you with the limitations a common man would find when trying to save a city from the plague. It’s a very immersive – and punitive! – simulator that presents some very interesting concepts and game mechanics that everyone should try. The city needs you, my dear friend. Are you up for the task?
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.