Pathologic (Russian: Мор. Утопия, tr. Mor. Utopiya, IPA: [mˈor juˈtoʊpi.ə], lit. 'Pestilence. Utopia') is a 2005 role-playing and survival game developed by Russian studio Ice-Pick Lodge. The game was released in Russia by Buka Entertainment in June 2005, followed by a localised English release from G2 Games in 2006. An updated version, Pathologic Classic HD, was developed by General Arcade, published by Gambitious Digital Entertainment, and released in October 2015. A remake was developed by Ice-Pick Lodge using the Unity game engine and released as Pathologic 2 in May 2019 by tinyBuild.
The game is about three characters who are mostly known by their nicknames: two men, Bachelor and Haruspex, and a girl nicknamed Devotress (later re-translated as "Changeling"). Each of them tries to uncover the source of a strange lethal sickness known as the "sand plague" that has befallen a small town. Although players can play as each of them, there is only one storyline, which is seen from different points of view depending upon the chosen character. The ability to uncover some secrets depends on which character is being played and the characters also interact with the other two unchosen characters and discuss their progress throughout the game.
The game takes place in a perpetual world over a time frame of 12 in-game days. Throughout each day, the player receives quests from non-player characters (NPCs); however, the game continues regardless of whether they are completed or not. At exactly midnight of each day, the incomplete quests are erased from the player's notebook. Quests are divided into main missions (one per day), which decide if a major character will die, and side quests, which earn money and items. Completing main quests is essential to discovering the secrets of the town, as characters can fall ill from the plague early in the game who would otherwise reveal information later in the game.
The player's other goal is simply to survive to the end of the 12 days by maintaining various resources. The game's fluctuating economy represents the harsh forces of supply and demand in an isolated, disease-ridden town. On the edge of town, there is a great building named Polyhedron, a physically impossible structure used as a fortress by children. On the opposite side lies an ominous cattle-slaughtering Abattoir, with the Apiary (later re-translated as "Termitary") next to it. All districts and major buildings of the town are named after body parts and biology.
Development and release
Pathologic was the first game developed by Russian studio Ice-Pick Lodge. The game was announced by Russian publisher Buka Entertainment on 30 March 2004, intending to release in the last quarter of the year. The native Russian version of the game was released to manufacturing on 31 May 2005, for release on 9 June. The English-localised version was completed on 20 November 2005 and released by G2 Games in 2006. A German version was published by Frogster Interactive Pictures on 20 April 2006 after being released to manufacturing earlier that month.
Remake and remaster
Ice-Pick Lodge stated in November 2013 that it was looking to remake Pathologic and using crowdfunding to finance such a remake's development. The developer confirmed the remake's development in July 2014 and launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that September. This campaign sought to raise US$250,000, which it reached by the end of the month, and ended in a total of $333,127 backed by 7,139 people. In October 2015, Ice-Pick Lodge announced Pathologic Classic HD, a remaster of the original Pathologic developed by General Arcade and published by Gambitious Digital Entertainment. This remaster introduced upgraded visuals, fixed bugs, re-recorded dialog, and a re-translated English script. Pathologic Classic HD was released on 29 October 2015. The remaster received generally favourable reviews, according to Metacritic. Under publisher tinyBuild, the Pathologic remake was retitled Pathologic 2 to distinguish it from Pathologic Classic HD. Pathologic 2 was released on 23 May 2019.
In Russia, Pathologic was critically well received, winning end-year accolades from five Russian outlets. However, its reception in English-speaking countries has been varied, being both praised for its remarkable atmosphere and concept while equally panned for its poor translation, outdated graphics and slow gameplay.
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- Official website (archived)