A 2005 game, the debut of the small Russian indie game developer Ice-pick Lodge. As for its genre... ummm...Pathologic is set in a town in the middle of nowhere, and infected by a strange disease. The game follows the story of three people, healers, who have all come to the town for their own reasons, and have drastically different methods. However, just as you arrive, an epidemic starts, and the town is quarantined. At that point, the game puts you in control and gives you 12 in-game days to do quests and protect yourself and others from the disease, by some very dubious methods.The first storyline is that of a Bachelor of Medicine, Daniel Dankovski, who has been asked to come to the town to scientifically establish that one of the residents is over two hundred years old. However, the man dies as soon as you arrive.The second storyline is that of a Haruspex, Artemii Burakh, (pronounced 'Artemiy Boorahk'). He is the son of a resident who has just died, and he wants to take his father's place. However, the people's opinion is that he killed his father, so you always have to be on the run from angry mobs.The third storyline is that of Klara, the Devotress, the young woman who many believe is either a messiah, or a demon. She is able to either heal a person or utterly destroy them with a gesture of her hands.There are three main families in the game, all in some way fighting against each other for the control of the town. Other than them, there are loads and loads of other characters, all somehow related to the story.The game received many good reviews praising its atmosphere. Sadly, the English translation was absolutely incomprehensible at times, which, coupled with the developer being practically unknown outside Russia, resulted in rather bad sales. (Though retranslation projects have been planned, none were ever finished.) Also note that this is not a game for everyone. As with many Survival Horror games, Pathologic has no parts that can really be considered conventionally "fun". From a technical standpoint, it didn't age well, and there's a lot to take in. It is, however, a very powerful, emotionally draining experience, and not to be missed.Ice Pick Lodge has started a Kickstarter campaign to create a remake of this game in September 2014. This remake aims to improve the translation, graphics, quest structure, and several other aspects while striving to maintain the atmosphere, themes, and overall storyline.
Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Justified by the epidemic and supplies not coming into the isolated town anymore. Fortunately, the value of your items and the quest rewards scale as well. Also inverted on occasion, where prices will sometimes decrease on the next day. Increases are far more common, though.
Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: All shopkeepers except Gryph and the barkeep for Stamatin's pub have the exact same prices for their wares, and your items will always sell for half the price it takes to buy them.
Though, more specifically, only the characters who would "give their life to you" will "die because of you".
Arch-Enemy: Professor Tehlmann, mentioned in the letter in the first day of Dankovski's scenario, who is a biiter enemy of Dankovski and his laboratory "Thanatica".
Arranged Marriage: Is promised for Capella and Khan, who are from Kain and Olgimskiy families respectively.
Back Stab: Doing this with any melee weapon (any actual weapon, that is, not your fists) will result in a One-Hit Kill. Just hitting the person's back isn't good enough, though; you need to hit a very tiny area located around the base of the neck.
Badass Longcoat: Dankovski. Also, damn near everybody who wears a longcoat.
Big Freaking Gun: The army's cannons used in the ending scenes are fucking giant. And they're mounted on railroad tracks!
"Blind Idiot" Translation: Zig-Zagged — the English language translation is very spotty. At times, it's a train wreck, at other times it's decent, and every now and then the incomprehensibility will actually add to the atmosphere. However, it can make it hard to know what to do. (The worst errors are in Day 3 and Day 6 in the Bachelor's scenario, as well as a letter on Day 12.)
Boom, Headshot: It's usually a One-Hit Kill. Try to get the hang of it, since anything that conserves ammo (see below) is a very useful technique.
Boss Battle: Exactly one, and it isn't even necessary to progress the plot — Oyun in the Haruspicius' scenario, if you discover that he killed Artemiy's father.
Arguably, there's also the hunchback and his squad of arsonists in the Bachelor's scenario, though he isn't much tougher than a regular enemy. And again, it's optional.
Boss in Mook Clothing: The rebel soldiers. They're the only enemies in the game who use firearms — and, unlike in most video games, they're just as deadly as in Real Life. Fortunately, they only appear in a select few quests towards the end, but when they do, they appear in droves, requiring extremely careful or quick sniping to dispatch.
Breakable Weapons: All weapons have 'durability' scores that go down when you use them. Though weapons can still be used even at 0% durability, the game averts Critical Existence Failure; melee weapons will dull and deal less damage, and ranged weapons will become less accurate. Fortunately, you can repair weapons for a modest sum by talking to a certain type of NPC.
Equipment also has a durability score that goes down the longer it's worn, though it seems to play Critical Existence Failure straight.
The Caligula: Nina Kain, deceased mother of Maria, often acted this way, though she still was beloved and respected by the Town's people.
Central Theme: Sickness and decay, both in the physical and metaphysical sense, are the most obvious ones. Though the theme of sacrifice - that everything comes at a price - is also important.
The former is present throughout much of the gameplay: Despite being healers, the three playable characters have to cause a lot of death, and their morals (and general well-being) decay along with those of the towns' inhabitants.
The latter is especially prevalent in the Multiple Endings — there is no truly "perfect" or "good" ending. All three of them are a tradeoff that require the sacrifice of one thing to save another.
Critical Existence Failure: Limping around and heavily bleeding from innumerable bruises and cuts? No problem — you'll still be able to walk, aim, and fight exactly as well as when you're at 100% health. This wouldn't normally be that notable if it wasn't for the game's otherwise strict adherenceto realism.
Somewhat averted with the exhaustion and hunger meters: though you won't feel any adverse effects from them until they reach 100%, once they do, your health will begin to drop instead.
Completely averted with the infection meter, though: the higher it gets, the faster it'll rise, the quicker you'll lose health, and the more disorienting the Interface Screw will be every subsequent time you're infected.
Averted with weapon durability. Melee weapons will get weaker with less durability, and ranged weapons will become less accurate.
Culture Chop Suey: Culture of the game's country is close to late Tsarist Russia, with many elements of modernism style in architecture, names are vaguely-Slavonic, and culture of Steppe is simliar to one of native Siberians, Mongloians and Buryats.
Cutscene Incompetence: At one point, you enter a dungeon reasonably well-armed and with a killing score comprising of dozens of thugs. Then a handful of unarmed mooks approach you and beat the Player Character into a pulp while you watch helplessly.
Cutscene Power to the Max: Subverted. The opening cutscene of Artemiy's scenario shows him beating a group of armed muggers to death with his bare hands...however, once gameplay starts, it becomes apparent that the battle took its toll on him, as his Life Meter is at critical levels.
Daylight Horror: Absolutely. Could very well be the best example of this trope when it comes to video games.
Deus ex Machina: Some see the Devotress' ending as this, since Klara describes it as a perfect solution, preserving both the Polyhedron and the town, seemingly nullifying the importance of the other options, which have to sacrifice one. However, this is subverted once you actually play the Devotress' scenario, and discover that her solution isn't as perfect as it first appears.
Disc One Nuke: It's possible to get a gun and a decent amount of bullets on the first day in both the Bachelor's and Haruspicius' scenarios. This will go a long way towards helping you to survive encounters with relative ease, and you won't get any more guns until day 3 or 4.
In the Bachelor's scenario, one reward for a sidequest on day 4 is a repellent cape, one of the best pieces of equipment in the game. Normally, the cape doesn't appear in shops for three more days.
Downer Ending: If you refuse to make a decision on the final day, or fail to complete the game properly, you get treated to a horrific montage of the town overcome by the plague, right before the army comes and destroys everything.
Fragile Speedster: The marauder enemies. They're extremely agile and skilled in melee combat (traits bolstered by the fact that you fight them in small, cramped rooms), but can be killed with a single rifle shot anywhere on their body.
A weapon example is the revolver. It's relatively weak and pretty inaccurate, but its large magazine size allows you to fire multiple bullets in quick succession — useful for dealing with large mobs before you get the shotgun.
From Bad to Worse: The infection. And the Executioners are harbringers of this. If you see one, be prepared for some very bad news.
Gambit Pileup: Every character has his\her own agenda, secrets and plans. Up to Eleven in Bachelor scenario, who has to deal with endless political schemings of ruling families more than other two protagonists.
Gateless Ghetto: Avoided. Most of the houses can be broken into. All you need is a lockpick...
Glass Cannon: The arsonist enemies. Their firebombs can deal high amounts of continuous damage, and have long range, but they have just as much health as regular townspeople, meaning they can be killed with a single rifle shot.
Golden Ending: Sort of. If you manage to save everybody's adherents during a playthrough, at the end sequence you get to choose between the three endings listed below. Doing this is very hard. Also, you get some extra Fourth Wall Breaking scenes from the theater too.
Guide Dang It: A lot of sections, especially the effects of items — only a few actually have helpful descriptions, and there's little way to tell which foods are most efficient (bread and smoked meat, by the way). Fortunately, there is an official guide that is very helpful.
There is a specific example that the walkthrough doesn't help with due to a wonky translation — in day 7 of the Bachelor's scenario, there's a sidequest that involves collecting the mask and overall of an Executioner. However, there's a very narrow window of time for it to actually trigger — you need to talk to Mark Immortal after performing the penultimate step of the day quest, but before actually completing it. Semi-justified, since the sidequest relates to the day quest, but it's still bothersome that the game doesn't tell you this anywhere.
Even more specifically (also due to translation weirdness), there's one that's a Guide Dang It within the official guide itself! In the section describing the aforementioned quest, the guide mentions that the overall is in a "pit" that's "opposite of the cemetery". These are pretty confusing directions — what it's actually referring to is a small, rectangular morgue that's on the other side of the train tracks, across from the cemetery.
Harmful Healing: The childrens' powder is one of the very few ways to reduce your infection level, but it takes a lot of health (around 90%). Considering what it's made of, it's a miracle it can even heal.
There's "harmful buffing" as well, of sorts - many medicines that boost your immunity have an adverse effect on your health and exhaustion as well, though not nearly to the extent of the powder.
Though the powder is perhaps the most prominent example, due to the game's multiple survival meters, this happens for most healing items. Usually, something that restores one bar will reduce the other — for example, eating lemons will decrease exhaustion and increase immunity, but it'll also increase your hunger. Painkillers will allow you to gradually regenerate health, but greatly increase exhaustion. And so on...
Have a Nice Death: When you die, you get a short cutscene with the Executioner and Tragedian symbolically playing out your death scene on the stage of the theater.
Heal Thyself: You'll be doing that a lot. The only means of restoring your health, though (the actual health, not the infection level), are rest and bandages. That's right, you can even remove the symptoms with a couple of bandages.
Not really. The game wants you to use painkillers and then do rest or cover up the open wounds while the painkillers are in effect so you can heal right. That sleeping and using bandages on their own have a less effective (albeit, instant and cheaper) heal are trivial when you consider how realistic the game is regarding this.
Hero with Bad Publicity: Unlike Daniel and Klara, Artemiy starts the game wounded, weaponless and with a very low reputation (due to the accussation of being his father's killer). The first challenge in playing his character is basically restoring his reputation to a bearable amount while not getting killed by the City Guards, who will hunt him down at first sight.
Also, Dankovski, outside of the city, is condemned and persecuted for his unethical experiments by authorities, press and his personal enemies among other scientists.
Humanoid Abomination: Worms, a.k.a. Odongs. Though they speak like humans, and their bodies and most of their faces are hidden by their clothing, what we see is so weird, so they barely could be called exactly humane.
If you get infected, the screen becomes blurry and zooms in and out periodically. If your infection meter is already high, the screen will also black out for a few seconds.
Invulnerable Knuckles: Attacking unarmed suffers you no penalty, unlike when using a melee weapon, which decreases its durability. Possibly justified in the case of Daniel and Artemiy, since they wear gloves. (Klara doesn't, but she attacks using her Psychic Powers instead, so the issue is avoided.)
Justified Tutorial: Once you arrive in the city, the Executioner and Tragedian will be waiting patiently at your doorstep. If you talk to them, they will explain the various game mechanics and survival strategies via colourful metaphors (as is typical for them).
Karma Meter: The Reputation meter is an interesting and realistic variation on this. It's actually, for all intents and purposes, another health meter, and one of the most important ones at that. If you squander your Reputation, an already Nintendo Hard game will become even more difficult, as important NPCs will refuse to help you or provide shelter, most likely resulting in your unavoidable death.
Knife Nut: You can use a scalpel or a bigger ordinary knife as melee weapons to defend yourself (or others). Firearms are the more powerful and safer to use weapons though, since melee fights in the game are fast and brutal.
Another example of this trope are the looters, who seem to be expert knife throwers. Like, ridiculously adept at it... Thankfully, you can dodge the blades if you think and move fast enough.
A Non-Player Character example: Aglaja has some shades of this. She wants to find a way to cure the infection with minimal losses — she doesn't want to go all-out Utopia Justifies the Means. Her morals and methods are still rather dubious, however.
Loads and Loads of Loading: Every single time you enter/exit a building. Also, that ridiculous fog due to draw distance limitations.
The fog isn't even good enough to hide the limitations in some areas — you can actually see textures appearing and disappearing.
At least the loading is quick and you won't even notice it on high-end computers.
Love Martyr: Eve. Her obvious affection with Dankovski is absolutely ignored by him, she commits suicide, though for other reasons, and Dankovski is to much distressed to care.
Lovecraft Country: The village and surrounding steppe have all the trappings of this trope, even if it's not in the right "country." A run-down village in the middle of nowhere with odd customs, a dark secret, and a Cosmic Horror Story lurking in the background.
Meta Guy: The Executioner and Tragedian are "stage hands". Although, despite this claim, they are surprisingly participant in the main story, usually a herald of things going From Bad to Worse. It's likely that this is another layer of Mind Screw.
The Inquisitor Aglaja and General Blok also act like allegorical figures - of a different sort...
Mighty Glacier: Not a character, but a weapon; the rifle. It's quite powerful and extremely accurate, but can only hold one bullet at a time, meaning you'll have to sit through the (long) reload animation every time you fire it.
Nintendo Hard: It's pretty easy to waste time and resources at the start of the game in a way that will totally screw you over by the endgame.
No Antagonist: Despite their conflicting methods, all the Adherents wish to put an end to the disease and restore order to the town. Even the thugs and bandits only rob out of necessity.
Nominal Importance: When you talk to any of the characters, an icon with a black-and-white photo appears in the corner of the screen. With storyline characters, it's a person resembling the model. With random people, it's a creepy ragdoll.
Noodle Incident: Recent February Revolt, which was mentioned a couple of times. And Andrei mentions during their first meetings with Dankovsky some student revolts, in which they both took part.
Nothing Is Scarier: The plague-ridden quarters and areas of the city. Some would argue that the whole city and its surroundings qualifies.
Not That Kind of Doctor: A rather bizarre variation, in that the Bachelor is referred to as a doctor, despite the fact that he's... well, a Bachelor Of Medicine...
Obvious Beta: Definitely. The game's innovative and well-written story and atmosphere are often marred by the rather clunky and buggy engine. There are quite a few annoying bugs that can mess up the gameplay or disrupt its otherwise highly immersive atmosphere. And the wobbly and seemingly rushed English translation and dub needlessly add to the already existing issues...
Fortunately, the developers say that they're planning to create a Video Game Remake sometime in the future that fixes these issues. Judging by how badly the Fan Translation is going, though, it probably won't happen any time soon.
Offstage Villainy: Anna Angel is rumored to be a former member of "Diamond Ace Caravan", an infamous gang of murderers and child kidnappers which was executed a few years before game. It's also heavily implied that she murdered the girl who gave her a shelter.
One L Etter Name: One of Dankovski's associates for Thanatica sends him a letter during the first day, signing it simply "Your A.".
One Bullet Clips: Sidestepped. The revolver is reloaded offscreen (the character pulls it down to their side first), avoiding the need for custom animations depending on how many bullets it currently has. The rifle is reloaded on-screen, but it has a literal one-bullet clip, so the trope doesn't apply. Played straight with the shotgun, however, which is also guilty of the "reload more visible shots than you actually have" subtrope.
One Stat to Rule Them All: Keep your Reputation high at all costs. It's the hardest type of health to restore, and has far-reaching consequences if it gets low.note Among other things: Shopkeepers will refuse to sell their wares to you, townspeople will attack you on sight, and most people will refuse to lend you shelter, meaning you'll eventually drop dead from exhaustion.
One Steve Limit: Averted; there are two characters who go by the name of "Alexander". They're both referred to by their surnames, though, so the problems with the trope are sidestepped.
Random Effect Item: Twyrine. Sometimes it functions like a painkiller, sometimes it messes with your immunity, sometimes it decreases infection slightly. Mentioned in its description, where it says that many of its effects haven't been discovered yet.
Real Is Brown: The whole town. Possibly justified, as it's in the middle of a steppe (and in the middle of autumn), and is thus covered in sand and mud all the time.
There's also the fact that the characters insist on Firing One-Handed with everything except the rifle, despite the fact that trying that with a Sawed-Off Shotgun (or even a revolver, depending on the caliber) should result in broken wrists.
Revolvers Are Just Better: Averted. The revolver is the least accurate and second-weakest gun in the game. Its only real advantage is a (relatively) large magazine size, but More Dakka is a horrible strategy in this game, so that's not terribly useful. (And just in case you still want to try that, its ammunition is the most expensive as well.)
The weapon selection is annoyingly clunky, since it's only available by opening your inventory (which is the only menu that averts Menu Time Lockout). This wouldn't be necessarily bad — but imagine you need to switch to another weapon quickly in the middle of a fight with a local looter...
This is very minor compared to the other two, but... Melee weapons often have multiple attacks — for example, when unarmed, your character may execute either a quick jab with their left fist, or a long windup punch with their right. However, there is no way to control which attack is executed (it's random), so you have no idea whether you can afford to be right next to an enemy, or if you have to start further back because your character is going to twirl their knife in the air dramatically before plunging it in a downward stab. Given how incredibly important timing is in melee combat, this can be quite irritating.
Somewhat related to that: Fortunately, ranged weapons avoid this problem, for obvious reasons...however, just drawing a gun takes an absurdly long time; the animation for the revolver in particular makes it look like your character's moving through molasses. Needless to say, this can result in problems when you're being charged at by a crazed mugger...
"In a single word, Pathologic is dark. And not 'we’re going to make our sequel a darker, more adult experience' dark. Not ‘teen angst’ dark. Pathologic is an endlessly bleak game with an atmosphere that smothers all hope. It’s ‘pensioner breaking a leg in his bedsit and no one finding out until the smell starts to get unbearable’ dark."
Daniel can be like this too, depending on which options you pick in his Dialogue Trees.
Sniper Pistol: Averted. Every weapon has an accuracy value (a random variance of how far the bullet actually hits from the crosshairs), and the revolver has the worst accuracy. If you want to snipe, you need to use the rifle, but even that's pretty unreliable at low durability. (It's also not a Sniper Rifle, i.e., no scope, so aiming over long distances with it can still be difficult.)
Soul Jar: Appears to be the primary purpose of the Polyhedron, though that's not all it can do.
Standard FPS Guns: Calling Pathologic a "standard FPS" would be laughable, so many of the traits inherent to the guns don't apply, even if the game does use them.
Knife Nut: There are two kinds, both of which have limited durability, undermining their use as Emergency Weapons. They can cause a One-Hit Kill if you use them to attack an absurdly tiny hitbox located around the back of the neck, but due to the fact that people shift from side to side when walking, as well as the rather long delay when attacking, it's very hard to actually pull it off.
Handgun: The derringer is roughly equivalent to the pistol in most shooters, but you can forget about ammo being plentiful.
Revolvers Are Just Better: The revolver actually subverts many of the standard tropes surrounding it; it's more powerful than the derringer, but still one of the weakest guns overall.
Sniper Rifle: The rifle is hard to classify, actually — while it is the most accurate weapon, it doesn't have a scope, so it's not a Sniper Rifle. It's not a Marksman Gun either, since it can only hold one bullet at a time.
Sawed-Off Shotgun: You only get it halfway through the game, though it is quite effective at killing large mobs.
Translation Trainwreck: The game itself has a notoriously awful translation, but isn't this bad. The manual, on the other hand...
Trauma Inn: Averted for the most part. Though exhaustion will always decrease, you'll only recover health if you take painkillers beforehand. It can also be a double-edged sword: hunger will always increase while sleeping, as will the infection level if you're already infected.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Many of the characters who look like they're going to be the Big Bad turn out to have their own beliefs, morals, and reasons for their actions, turning them into this.
Wham Episode: Day 6 in the Bachelor's scenario. Up until that point, things have actually been going surprisingly well — you've managed to set up a hospital and isolation ward, and your fellow scientist Rubin has even managed to isolate a vaccine (albeit at a cost). But then everything starts going to pieces.
Firstly, Rubin has a My God, What Have I Done? moment because of yesterday's events, and turns himself into the authorities. He is subsequently executed. You're on your own now in your battle against The Plague.
Secondly, a plague carrier somehow managed to infiltrate the hospital you set up, causing death and despair. The town is now degrading into madness and hysteria trying to hunt town the perpetrator.
Thirdly, Saburov has gone mad with power — power you gave him yourself. He's now arresting people with wild abandon and little basis. If you don't pay their bail by midnight, the Inquisitor will almost certainly kill them.
Fourthly, a mob of arsonists is trying to burn down the Apiary because they believe it's the source of the plague. Even Vlad Senior, the overseer of the place, doesn't seem very concerned about this — and he later reveals that the infection has indeed found its way into the Apiary...
To top it all off, the Inquistor is poised to arrive the next day, and if you can't stop the disease by then, they are likely to take the reins themselves and destroy the plague at any cost.
Probably not coincidentally, this is the point where the red angels of death start appearing in the infected districts.