Pathologic 2 (First-Person Suffering Sim)


When I stumbled across this game on Steam, my dumbass dismissed it foolishly quick. “Wow, another generic first-person survival horror shooter.” But this idiotic train of thought couldn’t be further from smart. I anticipated completing it in a few sittings, which slowly descended into a thick, depressing mosh of trial and error as I succumbed to the cruel will of Pathologic 2.  Seriously, when I play games like this I question what the developers are thinking as they handcraft their messed up torture. Me oh my, accomplishing the prestigious final achievement in this one was unlike any other and you need to experience the gruelling challenge.


Pathologic 2 comes courtesy of Moscow-based studio Ice-Pick Lodge, who are responsible for this title’s cult classic 2005 predecessor. Pathologic 2 serves as somewhat of a remake and throws you into the role of surgeon “Artemy Burakh”(also known as the Haruspex). Your father’s urgent call of distress returns you back to a withered industrial town, located in the middle of a hopeless steppe.  The game’s outlandish characteristics immediately drew my attention with its natives, bizarre customs and superstitions, limber, mask-bearing contortionists, creepy kids, and burly humanoid creatures of servitude known as “worms.” I mean, come on, there’s literally an ominous, glowing, giant floating tower called The Polyhedron”that serves as a sanctuary, like what? During play you are quick to discover the development of a lethal plague which doesn’t just threaten the dynamics of the town, but you as a survivor. The objective can be simplified down to one premise: “You only have 12 days to cure the plague.” Easy enough, right?


The thing that makes Pathologic 2 scary isn’t just the abundance of decaying plague victims, or the ruthless thugs desperately stealing to survive, it’s the tragedy. This game masters atmosphere and its eccentric immersion promotes player connection and empathetic suffering. Unlike mainstream survival horror games, Pathologic 2 constantly beats you down in the sense that it doesn’t actually get easier with time. Time works harshly against you and you are punished brutally for dying. There is no redo or undo, the game is so unforgiving that previous saves will remember a choice you messed up, placing new importance on decisions. Deaths penalise you. Starve faster? Dehydrate faster? Lose your ability to hug? You name it, death is a major theme in this story, making it inescapably inevitable, also considering this game is literally about the plague, so.


Apart from body requirements essential to survival constantly being jammed up your ass like food, water, and medicine, Pathologic 2 offers amazing play that works closely with the story. Combat is primitive in the primal sense; every fist fight is supported by the constant remembrance that everything is on the line. Sprinting away from scabby faced criminals never felt so real, shooting someone in desperate self-defence never felt so real. If I was a New York Daily News feminist journalist, I would probably ramble on about how I’m truly traumatised by the recoil of the gun and the events I experienced, but the suffering and despair is what Pathologic 2 thrives on. To be honest, if you’re up for a challenge and a lengthy thriller, this game is perfect. It blows narrative out of the park and I hated losing beloved characters to the plague. You can’t save everyone, like life.


Pathologic 2 Official Steam Page

Written The Moore of Babylon

Pathologic 2
Ice-Pick Lodge (developer), TinyBuild (publisher)
4.6 / 5