Our friends over at Tinybuild have sent us a new video game published by them, and developed by a new developer– to me at any rate– Ice-pick Lodge, Pathologic 2. An open world thriller adventure where the choices that you make have immediate and long term effects on the people around you. How does it hold up against other titles? That’s the question that I asked when I delved into a journey of myself in the game.
The game is centered around a small rural town in the middle of nowhere in a fictional world. The game itself starts in media res, at the end of a journey that you the player didn’t get to experience. Seeing the poor outcome, the main character asks a mysterious figure to restart the world the day he rode in to town on a train. After a brief introduction, that teaches the player how to interact with objects and people, you’re thrown into the meat of everything. Having killed three people while defending yourself it’s a race against time to not only clear your name, but to also prevent the dark future you were sent back from.
The game itself comes off as much more of a survival game. Going into the player menu there are six different meters that the player has direct control over: health, immunity, exhaustion, hunger, thirst and stamina. There are also similar reputation bars for each of the small districts of the village, so doing good things in one district may only impact that one. However, doing bad things in any of them will get a rumor started causing your reputation to dive. Normally, something like this wouldn’t be that much of an issue to deal with since most games at least let you get a good start before cranking up the difficutly of the game. Not so with this one, the second the game starts it doesn’t take long before you’re notified that a rumor you murdered your father begins spreading, and not much long after that before you’re being actively hunted.
And it’s at this point that I had to start looking for a guide that could actually get me past the first few minutes of the game. I’m all for a games that present a challenge, like Dark Souls or even some of the farmer sims. But those gradually increase in difficulty, letting you at least learn some basic techniques or show you the correct way to do things first. I think that I can see how they’re trying to make it so that you’re actually living out the two weeks of game time that actually happens. But the trouble here is that they’ve set it up so that you’re going back with previous knowledge so it doesn’t make sense for everything to keep happening the way that they do.
The game clearly has a very diverse and well built world. Including some new races and human sub cultures. Most impressive but at the same time incredibly frustrating to try and figure out what’s happening. Especially when they slip in another language. Everything is overwhelming to the point that I just want to get through most of the dialogue rather than try and pick through it for a chance of tidbits that I need to figure it out. I can see that the game has a lot of foundation that it’s trying to build up on. And it’s apparent with what they’ve built. But the walls and the structure of everything doesn’t hold up well past that.
I genuinely wanted to like this game, not just from the fact that I’m a big fan of the games that come out by Tinybuild, but it’s been a while since I’d played a game that advertised to be a thriller. But I had so much trouble just getting past the first few minutes of the game that I quickly lost interest. And just to clarify this has nothing to do with a gating mechanic that I’m stuck behind, if you’ve read my review of Graveyard Keeper, you’ll know that I enjoy games like that. This game has gigantic walls and no way for you to know how to scale it without getting outside help. I can’t in all honesty recommend this game as I didn’t’ find it enjoyable. If you found it enjoyable, it is on Steam and if you’re looking for a serious challenge then this game might be of interest to you. Until next time everyone.