Pathologic 2 Review Highlights

We picked the most important pieces from the reviews of the new game developed by Ice-Pick Lodge

The first-person adventure game developed by Russian studio Ice-Pick Lodge released for PC on May 23 and is a reimagining of the 2005 game. Set in The Town in the midst of Steppes, Pathologic 2 revolves around three characters: Bachelor, Changeling and Haruspex, each telling the story of the struck by plague Town from a different perspective. In the 2019 game, however, only the Haruspex’ episode is available on release.

The new game is developed using the Unity engine, which allowed the developers to give it a modern look. There are also a few changes related both to the gameplay and the story.

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The developers at Ice-Pick Lodge point out that the choices you make deeply affect the game

With several reviews published already, we highlighted the most interesting moments from them to tell you what to expect from the game. Keep in mind that there may be spoilers.

Brendan Caldwell at Rock, Paper, Shotgun:

‘’It has perhaps successfully replicated its predecessor in being an artful mess. But whether you’re up for the art depends on how much of the mess you can stomach. For me, the answer is: no more’’

Brendan Caldwell at Rock, Paper, Shotgun writes that while the ideas behind the game (and as they are seen on paper) are good, it’s all ruined by bad execution. The combat is clumsy and blurry but has a few interesting ideas. For instance, if you beat your opponent hard enough, they will surrender and you can empty their pockets.

The worst part of the game, to Caldwell, is its survival elements. While you want to explore The Town, learn its story and talk to peculiar characters, the attempts to stay alive distract you from the exploration process. You simply try not to die. There are five parameters you have to look after, but the way they work feels outdated and frustrating.

The save system is somewhat outdated too but bearable. In Pathologic 2, you can only save in houses with clocks, and when you die, you start from this ‘’checkpoint’’. Besides, you receive a penalty decreasing one of the parameters, which just makes the tedious mechanic even more annoying. After a few deaths, the penalties are removed, but it feels like a ‘’bone thrown to players that gets caught in the throat’’.

The original soundtrack is composed by Russian band Theodor Bastard

As for positive moments, Caldwell praises the eerie atmosphere which reminds of Silent Hill with its foggy streets; unusual tutorials, social elements, and music.

Rosh Kelly at Wccftech:

‘’Fans will be able to look past the inconveniences and see the strange world in all its wonder, but the rest of us will probably not make it to the end’’

Rosh Kelly at Wccftech was impressed by the game design, unique atmosphere and the way dialogues are made, with bizarre and puzzling lines. However, the combat system feels somewhat unnecessary so bad it’s made, reminding of early builds of We Happy Few.

The biggest minus is the game’s survival mechanics. Hunger and exhaustion parameters decrease very quickly, while the food and water are scarce. So instead of following the story, you have to loot every bin for a piece of dry bread. And penalties which are inflicted after death are just frustrating.

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When you start the game, the map seems empty. But as you progress through the story, there will be all sorts of markers on it

The Town welcomes players to explore its corners, but with all the checkpoints marked making it look more like a Ubisoft game and ‘’needlessly mundane and cruel systems’’ you just can’t engage in the story. Even occasional bugs and freezes don’t spoil the playthrough that much.

Dia Lacina at Paste:

‘’Pathologic 2 is a deeply weird game, with a Mayakovskian cast of characters, plopped into an apocalyptic Bertolt Brecht play set deep in the Russian Steppe.’’

As Dia Lacina at Paste writes, playing Pathologic 2 reminded her of the time she got lost in Bratislava. With a cold wind blowing, streets empty and locals paying close to no attention to her. The characters are ‘’weird and talk even weirder’’, and the game world is full of strange encounters that leave an unforgettable experience.

Death is something inevitable in the game, related both to the Haruspex and the citizens of The Town. You won’t be able to save everyone or complete every quest. However, it opens new sides of the game and somehow makes you forget about the annoying survival mechanics.

As for gameplay features, survival is not as fun as medical minigames that you have to perform after the Sand Plague enters the scene. These vary from surgery to diagnostics, and you will fail them from time to time, and even more often than that.

If the ‘’medical’’ part of the game was given a more significant role, thus decreasing the need to look after your hunger, thirst and exhaustion levels, Pathologic 2 would let players engage in the ongoing chaos deeper.

Ty Arthur at GameSkinny:

‘’Is Pathologic 2 a triumph of artistic expression showcasing how games don't have to follow a formula and can more than you expect? Unquestionably, yes! Do I ever want to load it up again, though? Hell no.’’

Ty Arthur at GameSkinny describes the game world and story as rather bleak, so he doesn’t recommend Pathologic 2 to someone who is sensitive to such things. The story is a ‘’true’’ horror, revolving around a deadly disease and things people would do when the world around them collapses. Moreover, you won’t get a ‘’satisfying, conclusive answer’’ to what’s going on in the game.

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You will see such scenes closer to the end of the game

The narrative may be incoherent at times, mixing the ‘’real’’ story and dreams, and the game itself is unfriendly towards the player. While the Haruspex has to save (or at least try to) The Town, the overall shortage of resources and difficulty imposed by imperfect survival mechanics makes you think twice before taking a risk and following a questline.

Ty also questions the openness of the game world in Pathologic 2. The Town is big with numerous districts and characters. However, access may be closed due to the player’s bad reputation or story progression. Besides, even a low wall or stones may appear to be impassable.

The reviewer has also expressed concern with the future of the remaining two episodes. The developers haven’t decided yet how to distribute them, either as a part of the main game or separately as DLC. And if the sales aren’t high enough, we may never see the stories of the Bachelor and the Changeling.

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However, you can still talk to the other two characters when starting a game

Whatever the reviewers say, it’s up to you whether to like the game or not. It may seem tough or unfriendly to newcomers, but there are also fans of the original game who look forward to the experience.

To make your playthrough a bit easier (and the game more understandable), check out these 20 Things You Must Know Before Playing Pathologic 2 and our walkthrough in case you are stuck.

As of now, the first episode of Pathologic 2 is available on PC via Steam and GOG for $34.99. The console version and other two episodes are to follow later this year, with no set release date.