Follow TV Tropes

Following

Video Game / Pathologic

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/pathologic_game_cover_5522.jpg

"You can escape anything, even the punishing hand of the Inquisitor... but you can't escape yourself."
Advertisement:

A 2005 game, the debut of the small Russian indie game developer Ice-Pick Lodge. As for its genre... uh... Well, for simplicity's sake, let's just call it a First-Person Psychological Survival Horror Adventure Game with some light RPG Elements — although that description might not entirely do the game justice.

Pathologic (or "Мор. Утопия" (lit: "Plague Utopia") in the original Russian) is set in a town in the middle of nowhere, beset 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 they all 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.

Advertisement:

The first storyline is that of a young Bachelor of Medicine, Daniel Dankovsky, 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 he arrives — not of old age, however, but by the hands of an unknown culprit. Following this, Dankovsky finds himself strong-armed by the local aristocrats into using his skills and equipment to research the plague, and he quickly becomes buried in their intrigues.

The second storyline is that of a Haruspex, Artemy Burakh (pronounced "ahr-TYEH-mee BOO-rakh", with the "kh" sound like the "ch" in Bach or loch). He is one of very few people allowed the knowledge and right to cut open dead human bodies. His father shared his profession and lived in the town, but died recently, and he had called his son to take his place. However, the people believe that he killed his father, forcing him to dodge angry mobs.

Advertisement:

The third storyline is that of Clara, the Changeling, a young girl who many believe is either a saint or a steppe demon who brought the plague in the first place. She is able to either heal a person or utterly destroy them with a gesture of her hands. Mysterious and with an unclear past, she nevertheless performs her deeds in the certainty they will benefit... something.

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 and picked up dozens of awards in its native country. Sadly, the English translation was, on release, absolutely incomprehensible. This - coupled with the developer being practically unknown outside Russia - resulted in poor sales. This game is not for everyone, and there is a lot to take in in order to master its brutally complex mechanics. It is, however, a very powerful, emotionally draining experience, and not to be missed.

A remaster - Pathologic Classic HD, featuring improved textures, new voice acting and (most importantly) a revised script0 was released on Gog.com and Steam on October 29th, 2015.

Ice-Pick Lodge also created a Kickstarter campaign to create a successor of this game in September 2014. This game is known as Pathologic 2, although it is not a plot sequel, instead retelling the original's story with more content and mechanics, as well as more polished graphics. It is frequently referred to as a "remake", but the developers came to reject this label, instead likening it to how games like Silent Hill 2 and Dark Souls 2 revisit and experiment with the concepts introduced in their predecessors. The release is currently planned for 2019 Q2, with the initial release only containing the Bachelor's story, and the stories of the Haruspex and Changeling coming later.

A limited demo version of the sequel... remake... thing, titled Pathologic: The Marble Nest, was released in 2017. It is not an excerpt of the game proper - it's more of a side story branching off late in the game's storyline, and it has an internal progression of its own. (The developers' notes at the beginning of the demo compare it to a short story.) You play as the Bachelor, waking up in an abandoned house that has served as a hospital-turned-morgue. He's been fighting the Sand Plague for some time, it seems, and has effectively quarantined the Stone Yard. The rest of the town has fallen victim to the plague. You discover that somebody has ludicrously ordered your barriers lowered, however, allowing an opportunity for the plague to find its way in, and this is just the most straightforward of the trials that are put before you. The Marble Nest uses many of the main game's assets and mechanics and shows off the remake's version of the Stone Yard, which is heavily but not completely altered from the original.


The game provides example of:

    open/close all folders 

    Original 
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The game notably averts most of these. Many of the gameplay mechanics are surprisingly realistic - the In-Universe Game Clock is a major constriction and is constantly ticking, enemies take only a few hits to kill but ammunition is scarce, using weapons or wearing clothes decreases their (very limited) durability, being Stupid Evil and reducing your Karma Meter will get you killed, etc. This may be one of the many reasons why the game is maddeningly difficult and no part of it is described as "fun", even by fans.
    • The game does, however, make an exception and pauses time during dialogue due to the sheer amount of it. Probably because the game would be even more nigh-unwinnable than it already is if it didn't.
  • Absolute Cleavage: The Herb Brides.
  • 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, although increases are far more common.
    • 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.
  • Addressing the Player: The Executor and the Tragedian do so at the beginning of each playthrough, explaining the survival mechanics of the game, including that other characters are going to lie to you. Your character will generally be confused by the conversation, as a lot of their comments are obvious or fourth wall breaking ("Play? What are you talking about, Masked Man? I'm neither a gambler or an actor."). At the end of the game, they drop the pretension, asking whether they are talking to the Character or the Player, and explain the meta plot of the game - including apologies for the aspects that were limited by time and budget.
  • Afterlife Antechamber: The Haruspex briefly finds himself in one in his third and final trial, surrounded by Executors asking to take him beyond. Luckily, the Changeling is more then willing to allow you to trade the life of one of her adherents for his life.
  • Alien Geometries:
    • The bizarre Polyhedron at the edge of the city that was built by brothers Petr and Andrei Stamatin.
    • The stairways to heaven, also built by the Stamatins. They seem to be unfinished or half-demolished and lead to nowhere, and there is no explanation as to how they are still standing.
  • All Just a Dream: As revealed when the players finally meet the Powers That Be, the entire game is a... game, played by two children. The Changeling, who meets them twice, further finds out that it's their way of coping with a death, as they just got back from a funeral... of someone who died from the Sand Plague for bonus Mind Screw. The Perfect Ending, meanwhile, has the Executor and Tragedian give their bows and address the players directly, with the player given the choice to disavow the choices of their chosen character, or take them as their own ...Or was it?
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Daniel Dankovsky.
    • Anna Angel.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Maria Kaina, the resident haughty, cold, and aloof Femme Fatale.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Yulia Luricheva appears to have a crush on Eva Yahn. If asked, Yulia says that she likes the other woman "terribly". She also thinks that Eva is superior to her in all respects, and while other women of the town wear gowns and dresses and have long or mid-length hair, Yulia prefers to wear trousers and cut her hair short.
  • Ambiguously Human: The Butchers and the Herb Brides look visually indistinguishable from humans; however, the Herb Brides are thought to be female Worms, and the Butchers are described as a hiveminded cult of violent, unintelligible quasi-men.
    • See also Aspity, who may or may not be a spirit of vengeance, taking human form, summoned from the Earth itself. Complicating the matter, she is a proud woman who dances around the point whenever directly asked, and lies a lot besides; making the ambiguity deeper and more frustrating. Aspity implies to Clara that she shares this origin and nature, but you never discover whether this is true.
  • Anachronism Stew/Culture Chop Suey: The world of the game bears resemblance to a typical Siberian outpost city of Tsarist Russia, circa the World War I period. But there are several much more modern elements present, especially in terms of clothing and medicine. This is not to mention the many Low Fantasy elements, the strange, timeless atmosphere and the fact that about a third of the characters have decidedly non-Russian names. Further, the Steppe culture is similar to that of native Siberians, Mongolians and Buryats. Essentially, the setting itself is as enigmatic as the cause of the disease and the backstories of the various characters.
    • This is apparently evident In-Universe: Aglaya and Burakh both refer to the town as being a combination of different eras of human history (as an argument for its preservation, of course).
  • Another Side, Another Story: All three main characters have their own agenda. Interestingly, the Bachelor and Haruspex routes roughly coincide with each other in terms of what happens, while the Changeling route assumes both other characters are going through their worst outcomes; leading to Daniel and Artemy trying to murder each other near the end. Each route also allies your character with a different family, meaning characters who are friendly to one character will be outright hostile to the others.
  • Anti-Hero: Most characters, including the playable ones. The Haruspex even starts out with critically low Reputation and a bounty on his head.
  • Anyone Can Die: In this case, Anyone Could Die based on your actions.
    • Though, more specifically, only the characters who would "give their life to you" will "die because of you". Each player character has a set of named NPCs that are important in their tale, and who will live or die based on what the player does.
  • Arch-Enemy: Professor Tehlmann, mentioned only in the letter in the first day of Dankovsky's scenario, who is a bitter enemy of Dankovsky and his laboratory "Thanatica".
  • Arranged Marriage: In the Haruspex's route, this is promised for Khan and Capella, who are from the Kain and Olgimsky families respectively. This is done at Capella's suggestion, as a way to secure power. She's around twelve.
  • The Atoner: The Shtick of the Humbles, the Changeling's adherents. All have some crime, perceived or real, that they wish to martyr themselves for - an opportunity which the Changeling is more then willing to provide.
  • 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: Dankovsky. Also, damn near everybody who wears a longcoat.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Eva Yahn's outfit.
  • Beautiful Void: Day 12.
  • Betty and Veronica: The Player Characters do not engage in romance during the game, exactly, but there is stated attraction or affection for each one from two individuals, one lawful and virtuous and one more morally grey.
    • Eve and Maria for the Bachelor.
    • Aspity and Aglaia for the Haruspex.
    • Block and Griph for the Changeling.
  • BFG: The army's cannons used in the ending scenes are fucking giant. And they're mounted on railroad tracks!
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The Herb Brides appear to be entirely human, yet are implied to be female members of the same race and/or species as the Worms.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The gravity-defying, ever-looming Polyhedron and Stairways to Heaven scattered around town are the most obvious examples, but there's something about the way the town and buildings themselves are laid out that is distinctly off. Oftentimes, homes that appear small are instead very large when entered, while homes that appear large, opulent, and multi-storied are instead small single-storied rooms. While part of this might simply be a limitation of the game engine, it leads the player to feel consistently unsettled, as you're never exactly sure what's going to be inside.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Zig-Zagged — the original 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.)
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The town has a lot of customs, beliefs, and superstitions that make it very alien, not the least of which is the extreme taboo everyone has towards digging into the earth and cutting organic flesh. Both are considered to be even greater sins than murder, and only a select few individuals are permitted to do any basic labor task like dig up a well or butcher a cow for meat.
  • 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 Haruspex's scenario, if you discover that he killed Artemy'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.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Forget it. Ammo is scarce.
  • Breakable Weapons: All weapons have 'durability' scores that go down when you use them. Though the game averts Critical Existence Failure and weapons can still be used even at 0% durability, at this point 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.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall or No Fourth Wall: Depends on how you look at the theater themes present in the game's narrative.
  • Break the Haughty: The Bachelor's route in a nutshell.
  • The Butcher: This could be you, as the key to curing this infection lies in samples taken from fresh corpses and inside the Abattoir; a consistent theme in Pathologic is the relative ease of taking a life, both human and animal. Each of the three great families are involved, in one way or another, in the cattle trade... and none of them are particularly pleasant to deal with.
  • The Caligula: Nina Kaina, the deceased mother of Maria Kaina, often acted this way - although she was still beloved and respected by the Town's people.
  • Call-Back: In the Bachelors playthrough, a conversation mentions that during the first outbreak, Isador Burahk "grabbed the Sand Pest by the tail". In the Haruspex route, Day 5 is described as "Day Five, in which the Haruspex gets a chance to grab Her Highness the Elusive Sand Plague by the tail."
  • Central Theme: Sickness and decay, both in the physical and metaphysical sense, are the most obvious ones- though the theme of sacrifice, and 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 town's inhabitants.
    • The latter is especially prevalent in the Multiple Endings — there is no truly "perfect" or "good" ending. All three of them are a trades that require the sacrifice of one thing to save another. You have to decide for yourself which one is most suited to you.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Although the inventory menu is the only one to avert Menu Time Lockout, your character still puts on/removes clothing instantaneously. Yes, even a plague mask.
  • Character Development: With EVERY. SINGLE. CHARACTER. Even the bystanders have impressively realistic and interesting personalities.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: If you choose the Haruspex's ending, his Adherents - the town's children - will be the future of the city.
    • Taya Tychick rules over thousands of people working in the Abbatoir. Her authority over them is absolute and unquestioned, and they refer to her as "Revered Mother". She is five. Nobody outside the Abbatoir bats an eye about that, either.
  • Children Are Innocent: Played with to hell and back. The kids in this town see a lot, know more, and have their own baffling rituals and motivations.
  • City of Weirdos: Certainly a town being ravaged by plague is going to have its civic order break down, but it quickly becomes clear that the town was on the far end of the bizarre meter long before you arrived - the sickness is just making the weirdness slightly more visible.
  • City with No Name
    • I Am Not Shazam: Some reviewers referred to the town as "Ancient Steppe". While this title is mentioned a couple of times in the manual fluff, the Ancient Steppe is simply the name of the surrounding steppe region. 'Cause... you know... it's a steppe.
    • Sometimes it is also just called "The Town" or, in Russian, "Город"(Gorod). It's also often referred to as "Town-On-Gorkhon" ("Город-на-Горхоне" Gorod-Na-Gorkhonye) (The Gorkhon being the main river that runs through the town.)
  • The Clan: Three of them: the Kains, the Saburovs, and the Olgimskys.
  • Clear My Name: One of the Haruspex's early goals is to prove that he didn't kill his father.
  • Closer to Earth: Compared to what we hear of the other Inquisitors, Aglaja, the only female Inquisitor we know of, is extremely fair, kind, and reasonable. (Only relatively, though — she's still quite terrifying in her own right.)
    • The trio of "aristocratic women" (Lara, Julia, and Anna) are also portrayed as much more level-headed and trustworthy than the actual ruling families, who are primarily male.
  • Combat Medic: All three main characters can use painkillers and bandages to heal themselves and other characters. Artemy can also dissect corpses and make drugs from twyrine and organs.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: Many of the food items have descriptions that imply that there is a chance for these items to be infected with plague, or imply that they need to be cooked to be safe to eat. There is no cooking mechanic in the game, nor can food make you sick. Unlike most examples of this trope, however, this was most likely done intentionally to make the player paranoid about when and what they eat in the absence of tangible mechanics for it; and the developers have stated their intention to make certain foods able to become infected in the remake.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Of a rather unusual kind, but it still shows.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Everyone, including the player character.
  • Creepy Child: Laska. Aspity, too.
  • 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 adherence to 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 as well. Melee weapons will get weaker with less durability, and ranged weapons will become less accurate.
  • Culture Chop Suey:
  • Cutscene Incompetence: As the Bachelor, you enter the Abbatoir reasonably well-armed, and presumably having killed more than a few thugs and bandits beforehand. Enter a handful of Butchers, who, bent on protecting the Abbatoir from outsiders, beat the Bachelor to a pulp. Only the lucky arrival of General Blok's troops save him from death. To be fair, the Butchers are huge.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Subverted. The opening cutscene of Artemy's scenario shows him beating a group of armed muggers to death with his bare hands, something you'll have incredible difficulty doing in actual gameplay. However, this act isn't consequence-free: once gameplay starts, it becomes apparent that the battle took its toll on him, as his Life Meter is at critical levels.
  • Dark Messiah: Maria Kaina and her brood want to use the Polyhedron's reality-shaping abilities to create their own utopia, at the expense of the town.
  • Darker and Edgier: Relative to video games at large. One review called Pathologic "Oblivion with cancer, in a good way."
  • Dark World: Which one depends very much on how you look at it. And they're not mutually exclusive.
  • Daylight Horror: The plague doesn't wait for sundown.
  • Dead Person Conversation: On the final day, The Bachelor can have one with Eva Yahn, at the top of the Cathedral where she threw herself to her death.
  • Deus ex Machina: Some see the Changeling's ending as this, since Clara 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 or the other no matter what. However, this is subverted once you actually play the Changeling's scenario, and discover that her solution isn't as wonderful as it first appears.
  • Dialogue Tree
  • Diesel Punk: The town's architecture, aesthetics and level of technology evoke this, albeit in a very dreary fashion.
  • Disaster Relief Game: Subverted. The plague starts everyone's problems, and remains the primary foe - so to speak - but whatever gains you make are regularly thwarted by design, and the game doesn't allow you to save everyone. In fact, day 12 brings you face-to-face with a desolate town and a four-figure death toll regardless of your actions. Although resource management is an important mechanic, the game itself is less about the technical side of disaster relief and more about using the plague as a method of exploring ideological conflict through a character-heavy narrative - and this isn't even getting into the very meta (and confusing) late game.
  • 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 Haruspex's 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.
  • Dramatic Irony: Whenever the scenarios cross over.
    • In the Bachelor's scenario, the Haruspex murders a young woman whose father financed his bail. In the Haruspex scenario, while other options are available, murdering the girl is the most pragmatic solution, as other candidates are heavily guarded.
    • The Changeling calls to the aid of an Earth spirit — which can be murdered in the Bachelor's scenario, to the Changeling's horror.
    • The Bachelor and the Haruspex deal with Quarantine being broken. The Changeling breaks quarantine in order to prevent visions from two of the prophetesses from coming true.
    • The Haruspex learns of an all important Auroch that is injured in town, with the people flocking towards it as some sort of omen, and immediately attempts to rescue it. The Bachelor has it incinerated as a source of plague.
  • Early Game Hell: While the game is pretty hellish all throughout, it's the Haruspex who has the most nightmarish time right out the gate. His campaign begins with him at low health, high hunger, and with reputation so abysmally low that nearly everyone will outright attack him in the street. It takes a lot of hiding, running, and creative scavenging just to get through the first day alive. Then just when you think you have a chance to breathe, the second day begins with the price of food skyrocketing.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Maria Kaina, Katerina Saburov, and the deceased Nina Kaina.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Albino. It's not evil, but WHAT THE HELL IS IT?
  • Eldritch Location: A lot of them, including the town itself. But the "Apiary", the Polyhedron, and the town's gigantic Abattoir take the cake.
  • Elite Mooks: Government soldiers are a significant step up from any other NPC you've previously encountered, mostly because they're armed with actual firearms. Fortunately, for most of the game they're neutral towards you (as long as your reputation isn't terrible) and focused on dealing with the looters, arsonists, and roaming plague carriers running around everywhere. If you do end up fighting them, however, they're as deadly as you'd expect a professional soldier with a military rifle to be.
  • Empathic Healer: How the Changeling's Healing Hands work.
  • Enemy Without: Early on, the Changeling lies to her patrons and says anyone killed by her Healing Hands was actually killed by her evil twin. Naturally, said evil twin shows up for real, and becomes the Changeling's primary antagonist.
  • Evil Is Visceral: Play the game and take up vegetarianism.
  • Failure Hero: The Bachelor. His wins are few and far between, his allies either fold or betray him, and ultimately it's the Haruspex who discovers the Panacea. It's not shocking that he eventually decides the only thing about the town worth saving is the Polyhedron.
  • Fan Translation: One that tried to fix the "Blind Idiot" Translation, here. (One of the developers was even part of the project!) It's been "in progress" for half a decade, though, and the release of the HD remaster rendered it moot.
    • There was another fan translation on Reddit and a patch was released which can be downloaded here. It only covers about 10 - 20 percent of the game, mostly the crucial parts like the letters and diaries. The translator, meradorm, decided to halt the project after IPL announced there would be a remake (which was to be crowdfunded); because they figured that a lot of people would donate to the Kickstarter just for the chance to play Pathologic in proper English.
  • Fantastic Drug: Tvirinum/twyrine. The fictional plant from which it's made, twyre, appears to be a cross between marijuana and opium.
    • And wormwood. The fluff text on the old website used to describe twyrine as something similar to absinthe, except much more psychoactive. All of the characters known to drink a lot of twyrine are unhinged in one way or another, which might also be a reference to absinthe.
  • Femme Fatale: Maria Kaina.
  • Feet-First Introduction: This is how Eva Yahn is introduced in Bachelor's scenario's opening cutscene.
  • Find the Cure!: Your goal, as well as trying to hinder the spreading of the disease (and despair) among the surviving people.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: The army that arrives in the city at mid-point in the game's story includes a creepy-looking squad of men armed with flame-throwers. Since the army arrived to ensure the area is quarantined and to keep the plague from spreading... it's not hard to guess who their targets would have been.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Dankovsky and Andrei Stamatin fought together during some unexplained revolt when they were university students.
  • Firing One-Handed: Every weapon except the rifle. Yes, even the Sawed-Off Shotgun.
  • A Fistful of Rehashes: The town is split between three ruling dynasties, each one trying to oust the other families, yet inexplicably unable to. (The game suggests some kind of symbiosis between them, like the circulatory system of a body, but the family members seem unaware of this.) In any case, the Kain family acts as spiritual leaders, the Saburov family dispenses local justice, and the Olgimskiys are merchants.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Well, more like flat-earth materialist - the Bachelor is very confused by the town's supernatural activities, and tries in vain to find scientific explanations for them.
  • Foreshadowing: The opening begins with a group of children performing a funeral for a doll, obviously trying to deal with something they have little context to understand. The same is true with the Powers That Be, who created the entire scenario as a way of processing their own grief of losing someone to the very same Plague, adding to the ultimately Mind Screw like nature of the game. On top of that, the game also implies that the 'game' is real, leaving players unsure of what exactly just happened.
  • 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.
  • Friend in the Black Market: Bad Grief is one to the protagonists.
  • Friend to All Children: The whole town mourns Simon, but children are especially sad, crying that "the Grandpa" died. And then you find out how the Polyhedron was made.
  • From Bad to Worse: The infection and the town's attempts to combat it. And the Executors are harbingers of despair. If you see one, be prepared for some very bad news.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The infection might be spreading because the land itself is sick or enraged, or possibly because it's has been violated by the Polyhedron's construction. Different people have different theories.
  • Gainax Ending: No matter which one you get, it's going to make your brain blow a circuit.
  • Gambit Pileup: Every character has their own agenda, secrets and plans. Taken Up to Eleven in the Bachelor scenario, who has to deal with the endless political scheming of ruling families more than the other two protagonists.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Plot-important characters cannot be attacked by the player, and will only be found indoors safe from the dangers of the plague-infested town. However, one of your adherents will be infected by the lethal plague if you fail the main quest for any day, and several of the major characters will end up randomly infected as part of the endgame.
  • Gateless Ghetto: Avoided. Most of the houses can be broken into. All you need is a lockpick.
  • Genius Bruiser: Artemy. Burly and taller than the other player characters, and an excellent hand-to-hand fighter, but he's also an alchemist and something approaching a shaman.
  • Genius Loci: Due to the archaic farming methods of this centuries-old community, all of the waste material (blood, viscera, and so on) from the abattoir is dumped into a single pit. Over time, the reservoir of blood beneath the town has transformed it into a sort of earth-cow. The town map hints at this, both in the shape of the town (bull curled in a fetal position) and the districts themselves, which are named after and apply to the parts of an animal. The appearance of the Polyhedron caused a great, gaping wound in the 'head' of the map, which is the source of the infection.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Dankovsky to Saburov: "But I need the dead tissues not for entertainment, but for struggle against the illness!"
  • 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. You get some extra Fourth Wall Breaking scenes from the theater too.
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: On day 7, Eva Yahn sends a goodbye note to Daniil Dankovsky hinting that she's about to die. Later that day, the Bachelor discovers that she committed suicide.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Your basic weapon, and an Emergency Weapon at best.
  • Gratuitous Latin: The Bachelor really likes to show off that he is educated.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: The line between good and evil is chillingly thin, hard to discern and easy to cross in this game.
  • Guide Dang It!: A lot of sections, especially the effects of items — only a few actually have helpful descriptions, and there's almost no way beyond laborious experimentation to tell which foods are most efficient (bread and smoked meat, by the way). Fortunately, there was an official guide that was 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 overalls 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 overalls are 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.
  • Hand Wave: In the real world, it takes weeks (if not months) for a human to starve to death, and in situations of stress or peril a human can stay awake for days on end... Yet, in Pathologic, you can starve to death in a day, and not sleeping for too long will *literally* deteriorate your health until you wither away and die standing up. Obviously, this was done because the game only lasts for 12 days; but the in-universe excuse is that the Twyre herb is in bloom, causing exhaustion and speeding up metabolism. The game's general tone does a good job of masking this.
    • Eva mentions that blooming twyre causes heart attacks and burst vessels in people with compromised health. Starvation or exertion don't kill you by themselves - they just leave you vulnerable to twyre's deadly effects.
  • Harmful Healing: The children's 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 do even that much good.
    • 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.
  • Healing Factor: Taking painkillers will cause you to regenerate health over time. It's very slow, though; don't rely on it. They're best used right before sleeping, especially since they shoot your exhaustion through the roof as well.
  • 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 remove the symptoms of almost anything with a couple of bandages. Perhaps it's not about healing the injury as it is about keeping your body functioning by any means.
  • Healing Hands: The Changeling's hands, apparently. Also a subversion, since she can incapacitate or even kill with them via her Psychic Powers.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Dankovsky's snappy leather gloves and snakeskin coat - he's even called "that dandy from the capital" by some characters ingame.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Most of Clara's Adherents, if you choose her ending.
    • Also, Eva Yahn on seventh day of the Bachelor's and the Changeling's scenarios, though it's more of a Senseless Sacrifice.
  • Hero of Another Story: All three characters to each other. While the routes differ slightly in outcomes, all three contribute to the final outcome, which does not change.
    • Isador Burakh "grabbed [the Sand Plague] by the tail" during the first outbreak. He also attempted to quell the second outbreak before it started, but was murdered by Oyun before he was able to. Luckily, before his untimely demise, he sent a letter to his son, the Haruspex.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: All of them.
    • Artemy starts the game wounded, weaponless and with a very low reputation (due to the accusation of being his father's killer). His first and extremely pressing challenge is basically restoring his reputation to the point where he won't be attacked on sight by the City Guards.
    • Dankovsky, outside of the town, is condemned and persecuted for his unethical experiments by authorities, press and his personal enemies among other scientists. The town's inhabitants are superstitiously wary of his comparatively modern methods.
    • Clara is mysterious, has unclear origins, and must contend with extremely bizarre rumors about her nature and actions.
  • Hobbes Was Right: The overall decay of both the city and human society within is downright disturbing. But, the more you explore and learn of the city's mysteries, it's hinted at that:
  • Humanoid Abomination: Worms, a.k.a. Odong. Though they speak like humans, and their bodies and most of their faces are hidden by their clothing, what we see is very hard to consider entirely human.
  • The Igor: Andrei Stamatin, though he assists not a Mad Scientist, but Mad Architect.
  • Immersive Sim: The game is set in an unnamed steppe town ravaged by a mysterious epidemic, and the player steers one of three variously eccentric characters in an attempt to find a cure. Notably, the game runs in actual Real Time and always ends after 12 in-universe days, and it is entirely possible to miss the vast majority of the story events unless you know exactly when and where the next one will occur.
  • Immortality Seeker: Dankovsky is a rare heroic example. It doesn't come up much, but it was why he came to the town in the first place.
  • Impossible Task: The Powers-That-Be are fond of this one, setting essentially the same one for the Bachelor, Inquisitor Aglaya, and General Block: Cure the Plague by Any Means Necessary.
  • Improbable Age: The Bachelor is an odd case. He looks like a young man and him being referred as the Bachelor such also emphasizes that, making him sound like someone who has just graduated. Yet at the same time he was previously the head of his own laboratory, which usually one would expect only after decades of work.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Despite (presumably) never having held a gun before the game begins, the three healers become remarkably adept with their weapons as soon as they pick them up.
  • Infant Immortality: Children cannot be harmed by the player or enemies, and will simply run away from combat. It turns out this is Justified by the plot.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Most of the main character NPCs have faces identical with their small photo portraits seen in the conversation menu. Some of the actors used for the photos are members of the dev team (e.g. Artemy's portrait shows one of the game's writers).
  • Improbable Antidote: The 'schmowders' are random drug cocktails made by children that are capable of curing the Sand Plague. You end up mostly dead if you try taking it, but it works.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Used with both fences and edges of the playing area. Lampshaded when in a dialogue, one of the playable characters randomly notes that he can't climb fences and pipes. All the more ironic since he does just that in a cutscene earlier in the game.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Subverted. You can only use lockpicks to get into locked buildings. They still inexplicably break when you use them, though.
  • Interface Spoiler: The hill atop which the town rests is later revealed to be a bull. Click for the alternate view. (Spoilers)
  • Interface Screw: The map switch.
    • 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.
  • Interrupted Suicide: On day 10 Petr Stamatin decides to burn himself alive near one of his stairways to heaven. However, he is interrupted by Dankovsky.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Attacking unarmed suffers you no penalty, unlike when using a melee weapon, which decreases its durability. Possibly justified in the case of Daniil and Artemy, since they wear gloves. (Clara doesn't, but she attacks using her Psychic Powers instead, so the issue is avoided.)
  • Jerkass Hero: All three of them. Bachelor seems to think he is the only one with half a brain in this town, and antagonizes the other two for no reason other that he can. Haruspex can be exactly the murderous thug the angry mobs think he is, and having hundreds of extracted human organs in his backpack just adds to his charm. Clara talks and acts like Pollyanna raised by Straw Fundamentalists, and can be even more insufferable than Dankovsky. Until Day 6, that is. They still try their best to save the town.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: Played as straight as it gets with the Inquisitor. Just look at Aglaya's introductory cutscene.
  • Just Before the End: The town has certainly seen better days.
  • 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 colorful 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.
  • Kill ’Em All: Potentially. Even likely, if you aren't resourceful and shrewd enough. In the Downer Ending, the army obliterates the town, the Polyhedron, and all the remaining townspeople.
  • 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.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: The Player Character (and, by extension, the player) will definitely become this by the end if you try to play morally.
    • A Non-Player Character example: Aglaya 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.
  • Let's Play: There is one for the Bachelor and one for the Haruspex on the Something Awful discussion board.
    • The Changeling has an archived one with a smoother translation.
    • The gaming blog "Pathologistics" has two players playing both characters concurrently. The beginning is here.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Every storyline character is named and is a major player in the story. The rest are just ragdolls.
  • 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 Dodecahedron: A good portion of the Utopians are either implied or explicitly stated to be in love with one another. Daniil can flirt with both Eva Yan and Maria and stays at Eva's house throughout the game, Eva is implied to be polyamorous and also carries on a relationship with Andrey. Andrey's brother Peter is said to be in love with Maria and also additionally has some dialogue implying attraction to Eva, and Young Vlad (while not explicitly on the Bound list, allies himself with the Utopians in the endgame) is also in love with Maria. Maria also is explicitly confirmed to have fallen in love with Daniil.
  • Love Martyr: Eve. Her obvious affection for Dankovsky is taken for granted, she commits suicide - though for other reasons - and Dankovsky is too distressed, tired and burdened to feel much grief.
  • 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.
  • Magic Realism: Combined with Cosmic Horror Story. Unfortunately.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: It's revealed in the Changeling's story that the trials that the Haruspex goes through were attempts by the Elder to kill him due to jealousy
  • Malicious Slander: The players characters are victims of some, and other characters deploy it as a weapon. It's not hard to work people up into a frenzy, the way things are going.
  • Meat Moss: Seen in the the city districts and quarters that got hit by the plague. On buildings, the paved streets... Even seen bricks with scabs and pus?
  • Mêlée à Trois: As the plague progresses and the town descends into chaos, the various factions will take to the streets and end up fighting each other. After several days you'll have civilians, bandits, arsonists, plague carriers, patrolmen, and soldiers all duking it out with eeach other in the streets.
  • Meta Guy: The Executioner and Tragedian are "stage hands". Although, despite this claim, they are surprisingly participant in the main story, usually heralds of things going From Bad to Worse. It's likely that this is another layer of Mind Screw.
    • The Inquisitor Aglaya and General Block also act like allegorical figures of a different sort.
  • Menu Time Lockout: Accessing your map, diary, letters, or status screen pauses the game, and you will be thankful for it, since it's one of the few Acceptable Breaks from Reality the game uses. This is not the case for the inventory menu, though — see Scrappy Mechanic.
  • 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 a lengthy reload animation every time you fire it.
  • Mind Screw/Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Hooooo boy. Excessive weirdness abounds in every detail of the story and setting. The "facts" are often deliberately contradictory and obtuse. And the original dodgy translation made it even harder to tell just what exactly it all means.
  • More Dakka: Nope. An automatic weapon would be useless due to the scarcity of ammo, anyway.
  • Multiple Endings: All are bittersweet, at best.
    • The Bachelor: Destroy the town to save the Polyhedron. However, the Miracle of the Polyhedron is implied to be subverted by the Kains, creating an immortal social elite lead by the Scarlet Mistress.
    • The Haruspex: Destroy the Polyhedron to save the town. However, the town will regress into an era of traditionalism, spearheaded by the Haruspex and lead by the children of the town
    • The Changeling: Save everyone in the town and preserve the Polyhedron, but sacrifice most of her Adherents to stave off the plague, again and again and again.
    • Or, if you refuse to choose any of the endings, the military destroys everything.
  • Name of Cain: The Kain family, though unintentionally according to Word of God; their name is instead supposed to evoke associations with drugs such as Novocaine.
  • Nude Nature Dance: Almost. The herb brides dance to evoke twyre and other plants wearing a few tattered strips of black cloth.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: If you've come under attack, it's generally better to cripple your enemy with a firearm first, then hit or stab him. As long as you have ammo, that is.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: You will learn to fear the Executors. Whenever you see them... it's a bad sign.
  • 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 his first meeting with Dankovsky some student revolts, in which they both took part. Russian players usually identify the first with The February Revolution in 1917 and the latter with the Revolution of 1905, where one of the leading forces was revolutionary students and professorate. But since it's Purely Aesthetic Era, well...
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The plague-ridden quarters and areas of the city. Some would argue that the whole town and its surroundings qualify.
  • 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.
    • The HD remake was released in 2015, with correct (well, more correct than before; "Simon is a sorcerer?" is still there) English translation and improved graphics.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Alexander "General Ash" Block. He's a surprisingly nice, poetic (his name is actually a reference to Alexander Blok, a Russian symbolist poet of the early twentieth century) and reasonable guy.
  • Offstage Villainy: Anna Angel is rumored to be a former member of the "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 shelter.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Anna Angel wears a corset as a part of her outerwear.
  • One-Letter Name: One of Dankovsky's associates for Thanatica sends him a letter during the first day, signing it simply "Your A."
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The main menu theme. The rest of the game features examples of Ominous Steppe Nomad Chanting, interspersed with haunting, predominantly female vocals. They greatly add to the already gloomy atmosphere of the game.
  • 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-Hit Kill: Back Stabs and headshots will result in these.
  • 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 
  • 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.
    • Additionally, there's Vlad Olgimsky the Older and his son, commonly known as simply "Vlad Jr.". His sister, Victoria, shares her name with their mother, but is usually referred to as "Capella".
    • The Powers That Be may or may not be two different groups.
  • Organ Drops: They're only available to the Haruspex, since he's the only one who knows how to cut them out.
  • Our Cats Are More Transparent: The mythical Transparent Cat, of course. You can see his interiors!
  • Perspective Flip: The three healers go through roughly the same events, with only slight inconsistencies. As each player character has patronage with a different ruling family, characters who are friendly in one playthrough will be dismissive to antagonistic in another.
  • The Plague: A visible cloud of disease that will actively chase you. Or a cloud of disease that sometimes appears as a red-brown angel.
  • Plague Doctor: Characters reminiscent of plague doctors pop up as the disease spreads throughout the town.
  • Player Needs Food Badly: You need to eat and even sleep regularly, since you can die without it - not only from infection or low health, but from hunger and exhaustion as well. And if you're wondering how a person can die from starvation within only a couple days, the Tragedian who explains the game's rules at the beginning basically says "that's just how things are around here."
    • It's also explained that a local herb called twyre is in heavy bloom during the events of the game, emitting stupefying vapours that cause vital processes to progress faster. It's also part of the reason other characters keep complaining about headaches.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: All of the healers' methods to cure the plague. The Haruspex cuts organs out of people and needs a special variety of blood, the Bachelor is cold and ruthless in his experiments and willing to sacrifice the town itself to save what he views as its only worthwhile features, and the Changeling needs to have several people euthanised to work her miracle.
    • Somewhat related, the Polyhedron is kept upright by a massive spike that goes deep into the earth. This "wound" getting infected is what causes the disease in the first place. Or, possibly, hit some sort of container of the plague and let it out. It depends who you ask. Also, the Polyhedron is heavily implied to be made up of captured children's souls and it's where the Powers That Be are hiding out at. Maybe.
  • The Power of Blood: And how!
    • More specifically, the panacea that cures the plague is made in part with an ancient, holy blood, that of an aurochs, a huge cow that reflects the structure of the universe in its anatomy. Presumably, this includes its blood.
    • Further, the initial vaccines Stakh Rubin produces are made from the strange, magically altered blood of the late-ish Simon Kain, said to bear a resemblance to the aforementioned aurochs blood, albeit weakened from old age.
    • Last, but not least, Clara is revealed about midway through her path to have the power to change the blood of anyone she heals—but especially her Bound—to resemble Simon's, but stronger. This also provides a source of panacea, at a cost.
  • Powers That Be: The Authorities, who seem to have a temper while remaining somewhat distant from your efforts to reach your goals. Both of these traits stem from the fact that they are literal children, and you are one of the dolls with which they play a cruel game of "Plague".
  • Putting on the Reich: General Blok is quite fond of a vaguely Nazi-ish salute, though he is by no means evil.
  • Production Foreshadowing: "After I lay my hands onto you, you'll have gold, silver and cobalt running through your veins." Huh.
  • Psychological Horror/Surreal Horror
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The three main characters. Sort of.
  • 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.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The whole plot can be viewed as this. The actions and motives of all three protagonists (and much of the supporting cast) will vary and be skewed and twisted depending on whose metaphorical shoes you are in in the current playthrough. The story of Diamond Ace Caravan is even worse - good luck figuring out what the hell it was about (beside it being unspeakably horrifying).
  • 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... and, later, bloody scabs and pus.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: And weirdness is on special.
  • Reality Warper: The power of the Polyhedron, which preserves dreams and allows a few with special perception (including children) to live in them.
    • This is also Clara's power, though it's not presented straightforwardly. She is told that, because of her powers, she cannot lie, not in the sense of refusing to lie, but in the sense that whatever she says comes true, whether or not she wants it to. This includes the existence of an evil twin.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: The reloading animation for the Sawed-Off Shotgun shows the Player Character using the stock "flick the gun back to close it using its own weight" technique. In Real Life, this is actually a rather dangerous action that can damage the gun.
    • 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.
  • Recursive Reality: There are at least four levels. First: the game itself, which is acknowledged by the stage hands. The player themselves can comment if this level is revealed by saving every named character. Second, the theatre, where the game starts and ends. Mark Immortell, the Executor, and the Tragedian are aware of this level. Third, the Sandbox, where the Powers-That-Be play with their dolls (ie, the players) in their magic sandbox. The Inquisitor is aware of this level, and the player character can become aware of this. Then, the Town, as we experience it. And inside the town is the theatre, which is identical to the Second level.
  • Refuge in Audacity: On Clara's route, when she tries to trick the Kains (of all people) by using her ability to force people to tell the truth on them. She is already skating on thin ice with the hostile Kains (they even have a bounty on her head); what she doesn't realise is that they knew exactly what she was doing and played along. When Clara tries it on Maria a second time, she's immediately called out. However, Maria is so amused by the fumbling and naive conviction she wouldn't be noticed that she decides to reward Clara's sheer nerve and let her go.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: A great deal of the game's anxiety and tension is born of this. All your quests are timed, ammo is scarce, getting infected is stupid easy, medicine is either rare or expensive, prices fluctuate wildly on top of that, and some of your drugs can kill you if you don't pay attention.
  • 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.)
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: The Bachelor's scenario could make a case for the Enlightenment, while the Haruspex is on the side of Romanticism. The Bachelor's party stands for beauty, art, higher thinking and abstract ideals, while the Haruspex's supporters stand for prosperity, practicality, tradition and basic comfort.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Dark versus Light. Outsiders versus Insiders. Utopia versus The Natural Order.
    • Looking at the frozen state of the stage during the opening sequence, Daniil is walking off towards the door in the light, Artemy turns left towards the door in the dark, and Clara ignores both doors and jumps off the stage. But Daniil is facing Nina Kaina, the Nocturnal Mistress, while Artemy is facing Victoria Olgimskya, the White Mistress, hinting at the real paths these characters end up taking. Clara jumping off the middle point of the stage towards the audience is likely a nod to her future status as the Earth Mistress, as well as her ability to view the Fourth Wall.
  • Rule of Three: Three playable characters, three ruling families, three town districts, three gangs of kids... it goes on.
  • Save Scumming: You'll be doing this a lot.
  • Scenery Porn/Scenery Gorn: Despite outdated graphics, architecture in the game is strikingly beautiful, and so is the landscape of the Steppe. And when the town is ridden by plague, it's Scenery Gorn.
  • Science Hero: Dankovsky, at first. He abandons rationality and materialism for the highly metaphysical and utopian potential of the Polyhedron later in the game; unsurprising, as his work at Thanatica is lost and his faith in humanity is shattered through his dealings with the epidemic.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Lots.
    • You can't run. At all. Only walk at a leisurely pace. Coupled with the brutal In-Universe Game Clock, this can cause the game to range from Nintendo Hard to nigh Unwinnable.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Secret Character: The Changeling... kind of. She's clearly displayed on the character selection screen, but can only be played if you've completed one of the other two scenarios. She is also played up as the most mysterious of the three healers in the other two scenarios.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Daniel Dankovsky, recognized by his snakeskin coat and leather gloves. He is even called "that dandy from the Capital".
  • She's Got Legs: Eva Yahn:
    • She wears a skirt with her right leg exposed.
    • In Bachelor's scenario's opening cutscene she is introduced by showing her legs first and then panning to her face.
  • Shout-Out: The original Russian title of the game is More. Utopia (Мор. Утопия), referencing the most famous work by Thomas More. A bit of a Punny Name, as Мор forms a phoentic homonym with More's surname in Russian. The common meaning of Мор is "plague" or "pestilence". "More: A Utopia" or "Plague: A Utopia" ? Take your pick...
    • It was comfirmed that it's "plague/blight". Devs were actually surprised when pointed about the title looking like a shoutout.
  • Showgirl Skirt: Again, Eva Yahn's outfit.
  • Show Within a Show: The Theater puts on a play each night after midnight. Attending it is completely optional and has no tangible benefits, but you might learn something if you do.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Andrei Stamatin and Pyotr Stamatin. The former is cheerful, extroverted and prone to violence, and the latter is drug-addicted, shy, introverted and plain sad.
    • Nina Kaina and Aglaya Lilich. Nina was psychotic, passionate and highly emotional, while Aglaya is cold-blooded and efficient. They both, however, are ruthless, highly intelligent and charismatic.
  • Slasher Smile: Several characters find the Bachelor's smile unnerving, and due to the graphics you might too.
  • Slave to PR: Your player character, quite literally. See One Stat to Rule Them All, below; managing your reputation is really important in this game.
    • Even moreso if you're playing as the Changeling, since her Reputation decreases constantly. She has a bit of an easier time recovering it than the other heroes, though, due to her Healing Hands.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The protagonists are mostly despised. The people are small-minded and selfish idiots. Dankovsky's "Love Interest" commits suicide. Guess which side the story's on?
    • Here's a quote from a review that explains this:
      "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."
    • Despite everything, the various endings seem to point to the value of hope and persistence in the face of unbearable, and possibly meaningless, suffering. Suffice it to say that both sides of the scale are explored here.
  • Snark Knight: Artemy and Daniil can both snark about the trouble involved in saving the town, depending on which options you pick in their Dialogue Trees. Artemy is especially cranky.
  • 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.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Aglaja/Aglaya/Aglaia, Artemiy/Artemy, Klara/Clara, Daniel/Daniil...
  • Spiritual Successor: Turgor (a.k.a. Tension or The Void).
  • Standard FPS Guns: Calling Pathologic a "standard FPS" would be laughable, as so many of the traits inherent to the guns don't apply, even if the game does still involve guns.
    • 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.
  • Stupid Evil: Acting this way is one of the quickest ways to doom yourself; going on random killing sprees and kicking puppies will drive down your Reputation fast.
  • Survival Horror: The most pronounced aspect of the game, at least genre-wise. And an unusual take on the genre at that: you're not fighting monsters, the darkness etc., but abstract shapeless evil in the forms of The Plague, the effects of insanity, despair, and general human senselessness.
    • Interestingly, the game's chief designer insists that it's not survival horror, it's just survival game.
  • Talk to Everyone
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Very arguably Dankovsky.
  • Timed Mission (plus In-Universe Game Clock): Basically the entire game. All quests must be finished the day they were received. The game spans 12 days. You know this from the very beginning, and you will be reminded relentlessly.
  • Teenage Wasteland: Downplayed. Adults still control society at large, but the children have their own culture, forms of currency, politics, and society that the adults in the setting are either uninterested in or are outright incapable of quelling. Some such as Khan Kain, Victor and Nina's son seem to live entirely in the Polyhedron rather than in their family homes.
  • They Do: During the Haruspex's party ending cutscene, Aglaya and Artemy look very suggestively at each other.
    • And during the Changeling's ending cutscene, we see her and Block embracing.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Starts hitting The Bachelor hard around Day 9 as a combination of the town's supernatural qualities and his own exhaustion and illness begin taking a toll on him, with characters mentioning he seems more like a man possessed than a man of science. Clara herself seems to always be wobbling close to this, although given what she may or may not be, this is understandable.
  • Town Full of Mind Screw Secrets
  • Translation Train Wreck: The initial release of the game had a notoriously awful translation, but wasn't this bad. The manual, on the other hand...
    • Gladly averted with the Classic HD version.
  • 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.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Sadly, quite a lot of it if you're playing for the first time. The aforementioned Scrappy Mechanic and In-Universe Game Clock don't leave enough room for bigger screw-ups on part of the player.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: All of them. In-Universe, Steppe culture forbids them from having any form of sharp objects, presumably because they're so universally unleashed. Naturally, this means that any sharp trinkets you come across can be traded to them for goods.
    • The two main organized gangs, the Dogheads and the Soul-And-A-Halves, are made up entirely of children - and they're willing and able to kill each other. The adult Bad Grief still seems to run the criminal underworld at large.
    • Generic NPC children are an extremely valuable trading resource, dealing almost exclusively in drugs, lockpicks, and ammunition.
    • 'Powders' and 'Shmowders', dangerous drug cocktails that are traded and consumed to 'play plague', were made entirely by children.
  • Twist Ending: More like a series of twist endings that get progressively more twisty, to be precise. Nope, we won't dare spoil it for you. Your mileage will definitely vary about whether it's more of a Karmic Twist Ending or Cruel Twist Ending.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: An important theme in the game, but especially in the Bachelor's ending.
    • The more literal translation of the game's original Russian title - Pestilence: The Utopia - hints at this, along with a short throwaway dialogue with one of the town's Upper-Class Twit NPCs.
    • Also, the Russian word for pestilence is "Mor", making the title a Shout-Out to Thomas More and his classic text, Utopia.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: In-universe, during a bonus scene in the Polyhedron, but minus the "video" aspect of "game." No, seriously.
  • Video Game Physics: It's mainly used just to calculate falling damage - and it's pretty unforgiving about it, too. The player characters' legs must be made of plaster to break from such short falls.
  • Waif Prophet/Mysterious Waif: Clara, the Changeling.
  • We Can Rule Together: Maria takes an immediate shine to the Bachelor: he's no stranger to breaking the rules of nature, and he is the more morally ambiguous of the three protagonists.
  • 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. It's possible that he will be executed, leaving you on your own in the battle against The Plague.
    • Secondly, a plague carrier somehow managed to infiltrate the hospital you set up, killing hundreds of people. The town is now degrading into madness and hysteria trying to hunt town the perpetrator, whom they suspect to be a demonic witch.
    • Thirdly, Saburov has gone mad with power — power you gave him yourself. He's now arresting people with wild abandon and on little basis. If you don't pay their excruciatingly exorbitant bail by midnight, the Inquisitor will almost certainly hang 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 Inquisitor and their forces are 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-brown angels of death start appearing in the infected districts.
  • What You Are in the Dark: One of the main themes of the game. The plague and the methods you employ as a character in order to stop it and save the city could be interpreted as one big Secret Test of Character.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Notkin, Capella, and Khan.
  • Woman in White: The late Victoria Olgimskaya, senior. She is even called the White Mistress.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: Every NPC except the named ones.
  • You Killed My Father, Prepare to Die: Oyun is revealed, in the Haruspex's scenario, to have killed Burakh's father. He gets what's coming to him.

    The Marble Nest 
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: It's a hallucination. And you're almost dead yourself.
  • Downer Ending: The Bachelor is dying of the infection, and the Executor asks him if he wishes to repeat the day or finally be claimed.
  • Dying Dream: The whole game after the first encounter with the Executor. Sticky "wakes you up" after you collapse, and you hallucinate your previous day. If you feel you haven't adequately solved the puzzles you've been given, you can choose to hallucinate it again!
  • Enraged by Idiocy: The Bachelor can either react with some measure of compassion to the disasters that befall the Stone Yard or lash out at the people he encounters. The latter is often funnier.
  • Extremely Short Time Span: The demo takes place across a single day.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The gist of the demo, with a morbid twist. You replay the day's scenario upon refusing to give in to death.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Your character now has a backpack with twenty storage slots and four small "pockets", two with five slots and two with four; different items take up different amounts of space. Some items, like nuts and needles, can be stacked. Others, like scissors, can't.
  • The Problem with Fighting Death: Discussed at length. Aspity in particular seems to believe that the Bachelor is fighting a losing battle, failing to understand and accept death. Given that the demo is his dying hallucination, she has a point.
  • Secret Test: Invoked by Georgiy Kain, of all people. He is the one who ordered your painstakingly erected barriers to be lowered, seeing the plague as an "exam" to be taken by the Stone Yard—or maybe just by you. It's hard to tell. You discuss this at length with him and he stands firm in his assertions.
  • The Snark Knight: The Bachelor could display a snappy wit in the original game, and the same holds true here. In fact, his quips are more frequent and more injurious than before. He even tosses a few barbs at an Executor, who is all but stated to be death personified, upon being asked whether he is ready to die.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: According to a Tragedian inside, time seems to stand still inside the Cathedral, and thus those stuck in it will never perish from the plague. However, if you check your menu, you'll find that your time is still moving.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: In a coffin, it seems. When you return to the room at the end of the day to face the Executor, the coffin is replaced with a bassinet.

    Pathologic 2 

  • Dreaming of Things to Come: The prologue features Artemy awakening in the theater, with all of his Adherents dead, the other two doctors hysterical, and the town doomed. He then awakens on the train into town, the train’s other occupant saying he was having a nightmare
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A steppe lady asks the Haruspex if he will exchange his "rotten", outcast heart for her healthy one. If he expresses concerns about what the rot will do to her, she brushes him off, saying that she does not value herself as an individual, but as part of the collective he needs to rejoin.


Top

Example of:

/

Feedback