Fancy a little taste of surreal plague-ridden hell? Well, even if you don't, you should give the new Pathologic 2 demo a spin, because it's a dreamlike experience. Despite the number in the title, Pathologic 2 is more like a complete re-imagining of the original survival adventure. It's been delayed and possibly split into three releases, but developers Ice-Pick Lodge are in the final stretch of development, gearing up for a May 23rd launch. Now they're ready for you to take your first steps into its unsettling world, and meet a few of its players and stage-hands. Grab the demo here.
Pathologic holds a special place in my heart. Quintin Smith's Butchering Pathologic series eleven years ago was a major reason I became a regular reader. It's also the reason I played Pathologic in the first place, and discovered that, under a broken translation (since fixed in the HD re-release) and awkward systems, it was a horribly compelling but soul-sapping experience. If today's demo is any indication, the sequel is set to be more of the same, but bigger, bolder and more coherently poetic. Ice-Pick Lodge are leaning harder into overt surrealism and dream-logic this time.
As I'm hoping you'll all try the demo for yourselves, I'll only spoil one detail: This is a game that teaches you how to trade items by tearing your beating heart out of your chest and swapping it with someone else's. As expected, the initial release of the game (with potentially another two later on) puts you in the shoes of the Haruspex, one of the three healers arriving in the town, and the only native among them. You will get to meet the other two characters, albeit briefly. The demo contains the game's prologue, plus the first half day in town - less than the previous public alpha build.
Even if this is a smaller bite of the game, it feels much more complete and coherent than before. If there's one thing I worry about in this demo, it's performance. Granted, I'm running with all settings cranked to full, and it's not a twitch action game, so frame-rates aren't that important, but it does chug a little even on a semi-powerful laptop. Also, a rare few lines of the translation feel like they were shooting for 'poetic' and landed on the wrong side of a 'awkwardly translated from Russian'. The demo does offer English or (subtitled) Russian spoken dialogue too, which is nice.
Pathologic 2 launches on May 23rd. Publisher TinyBuild haven’t announced a price yet, but you can find the game here on Steam. To get the demo, you need to request (via an automated page) a Steam key for it here.