Wednesday, 12 June 2019 07:25

Pathologic 2 Review

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Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

Pathologic 2 is a narrative-driven psychological horror game developed by Ice-Pick Lodge and published by tinyBuild. A reimagining of the original Pathologic released in 2005, you play as a healer summoned back to your hometown after receiving a distressing note from your father. Once you arrive, you find that a deadly plague has ravaged the town, and you only have twelve days left to stop it.


As you arrive in your hometown, several problems and mysteries soon present themselves to you, the main one being that your father was found murdered the night before you arrived – and his killer looks exactly like you. This is the first of several interesting storylines for you to unravel, but unfortunately you don’t have time to solve them all. You must choose which quests are most important to you and abandon the others to solve them on time, which helps to make your choices feel impactful overall. The quests themselves also feel unique and interesting, providing an incentive to replay the title in order to complete them all.


One of the best things about Pathologic 2 is the eerie ambience it manages to create, most of which comes from the town itself. The buildings are perfectly worn, and the people are pale and ragged enough to fully sell the desperate feel of the plague. From the peculiar dialogue options, such as that of a group of kids burying a doll, to the dreary weather blanketing the town, you can slowly but surely feel the dread of the plague continue to grow and spread.


As effectively eerie as the town and quests are, their appeal is significantly offset by the tedious survival features. Simply put, the survival aspects are cruelly realistic to the point where it is not fun or enjoyable to play. Water is easy enough to find, but there is rarely ever enough food to keep your hunger bar up. If you want to play as a “good” character, it can feel almost impossible to come up with the money to buy food without murdering people or looting their houses.

While the high cost and scarcity of food might be realistic in a dying town, constantly starving and having to loot around for food severely detracts from the overall experience, as you’re too busy trying to keep your needs up instead of being able to focus on the quests and storylines. For a title that wants to be story-driven, the survival features tend to require most of the focus and take center stage in the gameplay. Additionally, these features also take away from the compelling eerie feel, as I often found myself more annoyed than creeped out. 

On top of this, dying only punishes you further. Every time you die, a negative effect is given, such as taking a chunk out of your maximum health or making it so that you starve faster. While this is an interesting idea, it seems needlessly cruel on top of the already harsh survival elements. Beyond this, if you find yourself starving in a section of the town that you have a low relationship with, you can’t barter for food, essentially forcing you to loot a house, attack and rob someone, or run to the next area and risk starving to death. Again, this is another tedious aspect that only increased my frustration throughout.


The combat system also unfortunately falls short. Fights consist mainly of blocking, throwing a few punches, or running away. There’s nothing really interesting or exciting about the fights, as they either bring your health down or are a means to an end to loot food or money off someone. In most fights, I also experienced some FPS stuttering, which was more of a detriment to the experience.


As interesting and eerie as the title is, it suffers from some performance issues. On the loading screens in particular, I had several issues where they would freeze and occasionally crash altogether, and the FPS would also randomly drop and stutter throughout. Animations can also be quite clunky, with doors opening into you or characters stuttering mid-animation. There were a few smooth patches of gameplay throughout, but they were almost always broken up by a drop in FPS or a minor glitch.


The Verdict: Flawed

Pathologic 2 is a unique psychological horror game highlighted by its interesting narrative and eerie ambience, but is plagued (no pun intended) by frustratingly tedious survival features, poor combat, and performance issues. If you’re a fan of harsh and unforgiving survival mechanics or the original Pathologic, you might enjoy the title, but if you prefer a less tedious, more enjoyable style of gameplay, this one’s probably not for you.

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Jade Swann

Jade Swann is an avid video game player and fiction writer. She loves getting lost in open-world RPG’s, making tough choices in story-driven games, and is a big fan of the horror genre. Some of her favorite games include Fallout 3, Fallout 4, Skyrim, Planet Coaster, and The Sims 4. When not immersed in the world of video games, she can be found reading, writing, or spending time with her very lazy Boston Terrier.


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