Just a quick note for the archives, to report that I did finish Pathologic 2, by which I mean I reached the end credits. I wouldn’t say that I “won” or “beat” the game by any means, since everyone died, and I myself died about a million times by the time I got to the end.
A YouTube commenter quite explicitly informed me that I was playing my first blind playthrough using trial and error with no foreknowledge or wiki guidance very wrong, perhaps because I simply lacked the brain capacity to understand the game. (That last part might be true. Pathologic 2 is so far outside the mainstream norms of gaming that it’s not even on the map.) But somehow I still reached the end, which should give you some idea of the narrative possibilities of the game. You can lose badly, die repeatedly, make terrible choices, and still advance the narrative and reach the end of the story. Or “an” end, at least.
I thought I was done with the game, but I kept wondering about The Town of Pathologic and the roughly 75% of the place and characters that I never even got to see after some 60 hours of playing, so I started a new game of Pathologic Classic HD, playing as the Bachelor. Supposedly, that’s how you’re supposed to play Pathologic Classic HD for the first time, as opposed to what I did back at the beginning of the year, which was to start out playing the Haruspex, and die almost immediately. I mistakenly assumed the character choice screen was a class selection screen, but it was more like a difficulty selection screen.
You might be wondering why I would go back to the super janky early-2000s graphics of Pathologic Classic HD instead of playing a new game of Pathologic 2. It’s mainly because the first game lets you choose to play the Bachelor, the Haruspex, or the Changeling, so you get three different stories from three different perspectives. Pathologic 2 is just the Haruspex story. (There’s a DLC that lets you play the Bachelor for a day, but that’s it.) Basically Pathologic Classic HD is a much bigger game, with horrible graphics. Pathologic 2 is a smaller game, with better graphics. They are both about the same town and the same plague.
The Bachelor story in Pathologic Classic HD is already starting out radically different from the Haruspex story in Pathologic 2. I’m over in a totally different part of the town learning about characters that I never even met in Pathologic 2. Pretty cool. It’s a cool series. Very underrated. It’s the Dark Souls of narrative adventure games.
Pathologic Classic HD is $1.29 in the Steam Winter sale, FYI. And Pathologic 2 is on sale as well. There are numerous flaws and glitches and problems in the games, and questionable translations, since it started life in Russian (not to mention some downright prehistoric notions of gender roles especially in the first game, if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing), but it’s one of the most unique games I’ve played in decades, certainly in the narrative RPG space.