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Video Game / Odium

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Yes, the game's cover supplies a dictionary definition of its own title.
Odium (also known as Gorky 17) is a tactical strategy game with some minor adventure and Survival Horror elements, developed by Polish studio Metropolis Software and released in 1999.

Gorky 17 was a secret Russian town where enigmatic experiments were taking place until the town was carpet bombed to the ground. Now it is one year later, in the unimaginably distant 2009, when mysterious things start happening in a town somewhere in Poland. The first expedition sent out disappears. Three men are sent in the second expedition - Cole Sullivan, Jarek Ovitz and Thiery Trantigne. Their mission: to find out what happened. And boldly go where no man has gone before survive.

Two prequels, ''Gorky Zero: Beyond Honor'' and Gorky 2: Aurora Watching were released in the Eastern European market. The prequels share a common plot, but are fairly unrelated to the original Gorky 17, being Metal Gear-style third person stealth shooters focusing on the activities of covert ops specialist Cole Sullivan as he investigates zombie-producing shenanigans being carried out by a rogue scientist and a renegade colonel. Gorky 2 was released as Soldier Elite for the English-language market, but Cole's name was changed to White Fox.

Now available on GOG and Steam.

This game provides examples of:

  • A.I. Breaker:
    • The AI will not use an attack if that attack would harm another enemy or itself, even if it means not attacking at all. Most enemies have a backup melee attack to account for this weakness, but some don't. If you corner them, they're harmless.
    • The Attracting Device causes any enemy vulnerable to its effect to do nothing but march toward the location where you've placed it, so long as its location is accessible (i.e. they must be able to walk to it and have their hitbox intersect it). However, through careful placement of the device and your units, you can engineer a situation in which you can control what path enemies have to take to reach it. By simply positioning your units to block one path and open another, you can force enemies into an endless back and forth where they can't attack.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The AI is fairly simplistic but still relatively intelligent. While melee enemies can be lured into suicidal charges, any enemy with a ranged attack will only get as close as is necessary to use it, and will even retreat if they didn't have to move to their maximum walking distance. This makes the humans with rifles especially dangerous, as they have a diagonal attack and far superior range to the monsters.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Melee enemies, or those which have an attack measured only one square ahead, will charge you to get in range. This allows you to position your fighters in a 'U' formation (numbers permitting) and lure the attacker into range for a powerful first strike.
  • Batter Up!: Another melee weapon. There's only one, but it's as good as a crowbar.
  • Bayonet Ya: The standard melee weapon, though more like a knife in practice.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The masterminds behind the experiments that caused all the madness turn out to be Russian General Kozov and US General Lamarre, with Evil Genius Vladimir Morozov acting as The Starscream. They were all collaborating on teleportation experiments to find a cure for human genetic extinction but ended up bringing up a mutating virus from "the other side" instead. Morozov (who turns out to be the old man who joined your party near the beginning) is the final villain, but it's unclear what his motives are as he just shouts about acquiring "ultimate power!!!!" before mutating himself into the final boss.
  • Bilingual Bonus: When you encounter Slavsky hidden in a shed on the museum's roof, he screams that he's going to blow up the place... in Polish. While in fact it barely sounds like the actual language, its speakers should nevertheless understand what's going down.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: The Energy Blaster. You find it literally three battles before the ending, and the first battle has only monsters that are immune to it.
  • Breath Weapon: Medusa is able to breathe tranquilizing gas, but it has a four-turn cooldown.
  • Bullethole Door: Featured in the boss Puppet's introductory cinematic. The street appears empty at first, and then the guy miniguns his way out of a wall.
  • But Not Too Foreign: For a game that takes place entirely in a Polish town, we sure don't encounter that many Poles along the way: just two of them (Owicz excluded), one of which is optional. On the other hand we meet dozens of Russians and Americans. Partly justified in that the town's crawling with mutants and thus is of special interest to both Russia and the US-led NATO.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Thiery Trantigne has the annoying tendency to declare how they're all going to die when facing even the scrawniest bunch of enemies.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: The AI knows your loadout and acts accordingly. This is especially obvious when you have a character with the deadly ion rifle. Watch your foes file just out of range to avoid being cut down.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: About half of the bosses are immune to stun attacks like the tranquilizer. However, that means the other half — including the the final boss — are not. This renders the final battle a ridiculously one-sided curbstomp.
  • Counter-Attack: All characters have a percent chance to retaliate if attacked by an enemy, which can be increased as a level-up option. The catch is that your counter-attack is locked to whatever weapon you had equipped during your last turn. For example, if you just used the flamethrower, your counter-attack is useless because the flamethrower has a two-turn cooldown. Similarly, if you have a melee weapon equipped and you get hit with a ranged attack, you're out of luck unless another enemy happens to be in melee range.
  • Crate Expectations: Small crates with useful stuff inside dot the landscape, and some appear during battles.
  • Crowbar Combatant: One step up from the bayonet, and the only other melee weapon with multiple copies.
  • Cunning Linguist: Owicz plays the part of the team's interpreter (although seeing as they don't meet that many Poles along the way...) as he's capable of communicating in his native Polish, English, Russian, and, according to the manual (he never actually shows it in the game), German. Justified in that all of the three foreign languages are commonly taught in Poland.
  • Death from Above: All of the tablet weapons (Missile, Lightning Strike, Energy Beam) summon a deadly attack from the sky that will reliably kill whatever they hit, though there are enemies which are immune to the effects of the latter two.
  • Defend Command: There's a Guard option which halves incoming damage for that turn. Useful if you're trying to lure in foes with a ranged attack.
  • Denial of Diagonal Attack: All melee attacks and some ranged weapons can inexplicably be used to attack only along the vertical and horizontal axis.
  • Dictionary Opening: The U.S. cover includes a dictionary definition of the title (and the title itself is spelled with accent marks and a syllable divider, the way it would be in a dictionary headword):
    ōdi∙um n. def. - hate coupled with disgust
  • Dual Boss: The Incubuses.
  • Early Game Hell: The Starting Docks area is arguably much harder than the rest of the game, it's very easy to stumble into dangerous boss encounters without the required gear since you start with very little weaponry and if you miss certain optional secrets in the Docks, you are not given a second chance to find these weapons later. (The Shocker and Napalm Launcher, The Shotgun is also a one-off weapon but is very easy to find and visible from the start.), generally once you get out of the docks the game gets much easier even when blind.
  • Energy Weapon: The Ion Rifle, found after the museum segment. It fires a laser beam in front of and behind the shooter, doing up to 100 damage depending on how much use you've gotten out of it (this is three times greater than any weapon in the game save the Too Awesome to Use ones). To compensate, a fair number of enemies are immune to energy damage, which is how it's categorized, and it takes four turns to cool down.
  • Exploding Barrels: There are barrels of gasoline during combat encounters. If you shoot them, they explode and deal 40 damage to anything next to or at the immediate diagonal of them.
  • Exposition Break: Only at the end of the game do you receive an explanation about what's been going on, and it takes a while to listen to all of it.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Medusa, though it's optional if you avoid the trigger. If you don't, you'll find a replacement party member (assuming he doesn't blow himself up).
  • Fight Woosh: Every time you hit an encounter, there's a transition flourish.
  • Four Is Death: Joan McFadden could be considered the "canonical" fourth party member, since like the three main characters she's a NATO operative that was part of the second squad sent in to investigate the incident. she dies a fairly drawn-out Plotline Death about 2/3rds of the way through the game.
  • French Jerk: Thiery Trantigne is a prime example. At some point far into the game he refuses to go after a surrounded Owicz because he's scared shitless of the mutants blocking their path... half of which they have already fought. Although, to be perfectly accurate, when it comes to fighting hideous beasts, Owicz is no Braveheart either.
  • Gainax Ending: The basically comes out of nowhere and doesn't really tie into the rest of the plot. Basically, the NATO General explains that scientists discovered that humans have evolved with a genetic "kill switch" that will cause the species to go extinct when its triggered. The teleportation experiments were meant to find a way to "teleport" the gene out of humans, but ended up bringing back a mutating virus from "the other side" instead.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Happens any time that combat events happen outside of combat.
    • When Joan is poisoned, using an Poison Antidote won't remove the status effect from her, in addition, this plot poison does alot more damage than the normal poisoned status effect later.
    • Several cutscenes involve characters being injured only to have taken no health damage afterwards.
  • Glass Cannon: When you finally get to fight the Invisible Monsters, their attacks do decent damage and poison you. They also go down in two hits.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Everyone who joins you throughout the game.
  • Harmless Freezing: Being frozen paralyzes the victim and makes them vulnerable to damage for a few turns, but has no aftereffects.
  • He Knows Too Much: Why teams of NATO soldiers start trying to kill you once you enter the secret lab.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: The "Food" item, which gives 20 health.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: The eventual explanation for exactly what the Hell's going on. Apparently the Russians' experiments in teleporting living things eventually brought back a virus that started spreading and mutating everything in the city.
  • Instant Sedation: You can pick up a tranq dart launcher that instantly stuns any enemy you shoot it with, assuming they're not immune.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: A tiny bush or a knee-high pipe cannot be walked over and can block your shots. (You cannot even shoot across gaps!) The enemies' shots are blocked, too, thankfully.
  • Invisible Monsters: Encountered near the end of the game, foreshadowed throughout. You can only find them by looking for squares on the grid that you should be able to move to but cannot. You cannot see where they move when it's their turn, unless you get attacked. Sounds like a tough nut to crack? Well, that might be the case... until you realize they all have like 30 HP.
  • Item Amplifier: Joan McFadden heals 15% more damage when she uses healing items on someone.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Oh boy, do we get a lot of that... Basically every Polish character tries to come up with a unique way to sound at least kind of Polish. The result? Owicz sounds like a drunken idiot and Slavsky talks like a generic Russian (which is about the same as listening to French pronounced with a Spanish accent).
  • Man on Fire: You've got flamethrowers, you've got molotov cocktails, and when all else fails you can just lob some vodka at someone, followed by a lit match.
  • The Medic: Joan McFadden, who gets a 15% bonus to using healing items.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Less of a blast than a grenade, but the fire damage outstrips what a grenade can do easily.
  • Mutually Exclusive Party Members: Medusa and Slavsky.
  • No-Sell: All the more exotic forms of damage (fire, energy, electrical, stun, etc.) can be blocked by certain enemies. The Invisible Monsters are notable for being outright immune to everything but basic damage.
  • Notice This: All pickups on the map blink and doorways have crosshairs to indicate interaction.
  • Optional Boss:
    • The Stinger on the museum roof doesn't need to be approached.
    • Likewise for the Puppet, which is tucked away in an alley which the player might not even realize can be entered.
    • The Incubuses can be avoided by not triggering the active teleporter in the final level.
  • Optional Party Member: Slavsky. You can get him, but you have to pay by losing Medusa and wasting a stun grenade, the only other benefit being a box with some minor loot. All things considered, hardly worth the trade.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • The crates that are on the battlefield during combat. They disappear after you kill all the enemies, so you'd better open them before that.
    • You won't be going back to any area you visit, so be sure to search around for crates and other goodies before leaving.
  • The Place: Gorky 17, the European title. It's the Russian town from the backstory, though it's not visited in game.
  • Plotline Death: Joan. Ironically, you might have a poison antidote on you when she gets attacked, but it won't save her and it won't stop her poisoned stat. This also could be applied to General Lamarre.
  • Protection Mission: Pops up five times. Protecting the console in the museum is arguably the worst of them.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: You only have so much ammo, so many health packs, etc. This makes choosing when to shoot something as opposed to using melee fairly important.
  • RPG Elements: Your characters gain experience during combat (after every single successful attack) and level up during combat. They have stats governing their health, their likelihood of counterattacking, their likelihood of making a critical hit, and how many hits they can take before becoming Enraged.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: Depending on how good you are at finding equipment caches and how good you are at conserving supplies, some parts of the game could be very, very easy or very, very hard compared to the parts that came before.
  • Send in the Search Team: The game kicks off with your team sent in to track down a missing NATO unit.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Averted. Enemies will not attack if their attack would harm an ally (or themselves). This can be exploited for tactic value. There's an exception with the Incubus spheres, which are time-delay so the mooks may walk into them.
  • Shock and Awe:
    • The gorilla-like enemies electrocute whoever they attack, though it's not particularly damaging.
    • Medusa's primary attack is an electrical discharge generate between his horns with a T-shaped area of effect, which gets very damaging once you've leveled the skill enough.
    • The Lightning item strikes down anything in its range with lightning, assuming they don't have an electrical immunity.
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: A pistol can only fire a square or two further than a thrown knife. A rifle only fires a square or two farther than a pistol. No weapon fires further than eight steps away.
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: All the guest party members will run off with whatever you've equipped them with. This makes it a good idea to learn when this will happen and loot them accordingly.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Flat backgrounds, polygon characters and monsters.
  • Stat Grinding: In addition to character levels, your units gain weapon levels as they use their weapons, causing them to deal more damage with those weapons.
  • Static Stun Gun: The taser tranquilizes any enemy not immune to its effects for two turns. It has a three-turn cooldown, however, so you can't keep an enemy stunned until you pick up the second one or use another stunning attack (the dart gun, stun grenades, Medusa).
  • Stationary Boss: Puppet and Messiah.
  • Steam Vent Obstacle: You activate a steam vent to remove some slime off a walkway. The steam then becomes an obstacle itself, to be deactivated by a different switch.
  • Talkative Loon: Medusa, once he goes insane and right before he attacks you.
  • Time-Limit Boss: The battle for the red keycard places you in a situation where you have to defeat several enemies before a time bomb in the center goes off. It's doable, but you have to throw caution to the wind.
  • Token Non-Human: Medusa, though he was human before this mess.
  • Too Awesome to Use:
    • Guns can fall into this, as there's limited ammo to go around. They usually get saved for those encounters where you can't tranq and melee something to death, by which point you probably have a lot more ammo than you need.
    • The napalm and rocket launchers have even less ammo, though they have area of effect to compensate.
    • Missile, Lightning Strike, Energy Beam. All of them are similar, in that they deal tons of damage in a big radius, and can only be used once. Doubly so for the latter two, as there are several enemies immune to their effects by the time you get them. There are certain points, however, where it's obvious you are intended to use it to get out of a tough situation. Missile, for example, comes in real handy at the end of the first section, when you're accosted by a group of six enemies and just lost your fourth party member. If you aim it right, four can be killed in one shot.
  • Total Party Kill: One encounter takes place in front of a overturned truck full of explosive materials. One missed bullet and *BOOM*.
  • Translation Convention: When the team encounters a little girl who is seemingly in shock, Owicz offers to talk to her as (obviously) he is the only one capable of speaking the girl's native language. It works fine in the English version; however, in the Polish dubbing Owicz pretty much repeats to the girl what McFadden tried to tell her seconds before, which can lead to some confusion.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: You can only discover what enemies are immune to by attacking them with the various damage types. This will add a marker for future encounters to remind you who's immune to what.
  • Unique Enemy: Hornet and Harvester. Generic in every respect, except that they only show up in one battle each.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: If you look in every nook and cranny, avoid wasting ammo on things you can stab or bludgeon, and know how to corner the AI, the game is almost comically easy about halfway through. If you're wasteful and just charge through without exploring, death is almost certain.
  • Unwinnable: Since encounters are non-random and ammo is fairly scarce, if you're too wasteful at the beginning you can find yourself in a situation where you don't have enough ammo to defeat a mandatory encounter later on.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Joan McFadden, a NATO medic with decent combat skills, dies a Plotline Death about 2/3rds of the way through the game. She's eventually replaced by Anna Hutchins, a reporter with no useful combat skills at all, who survives until the final dungeon (where she and the second optional party member remain outside, their fates unknown since the ending doesn't mention them).
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Averted. The flamethrower is one of the most useful weapons in the game when enemies aren't immune to it, deaing a fair amount of initial damage and an additional 30 damage spread out over three turns (15, 10, 5).
  • The Virus: The origin of all the monsters. Most of them were once human, though some seem to have once been animals.
  • Was Once a Man: Nearly all of the monsters you fight used to be people.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Every single character. If anyone at all dies, you lose.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: In the mid-to-late game, any enemy that can be tranquilized is this. It's very easy to surround a target with dudes who stun it and then beat it to death. It works on the final boss, too.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: You never figure out who those robbers from the docks were, or who left those BT6213 notes behind, or what happened to any of the surviving party members post-game.
  • With This Herring: You lead a team of three NATO officers sent to investigate a secret in a Polish town harbouring a former Russian secret base, in which another NATO team disappeared. Each squadmember starts the game with a couple of medical supplies, a pistol, an assault rifle, and a knife. And only enough ammunition to fill exactly one magazine of both weapons.
  • Wolfpack Boss: Both of the game's human boss fights ( General Kozov and General Lamarre), are just regular reasonably fit dudes armed with pistols. However, they're both backed up by several Elite Mooks armed with combat rifles.