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Live three days of surreal plague-stricken hell in Pathologic 2's free public alpha

Plug and plague

Bleak, harrowing and frustrating are the first words I think of when Ice-Pick Lodge's Pathologic springs to mind - followed quickly by entrancing, alien and compelling. Originally Kickstarted as a remake, the now-reimagined plague survival immersive sim Pathologic 2 is shaping up to be something special. Not convinced? If you don't mind some bugs, you can try it out today.

Earlier in development, Ice-Pick released The Marble Nest, a self-contained short story set within the world of Pathologic 2, available via Ice-Pick's FAQ page. Today's public alpha is far larger, and a slice of the final game, giving you three days to explore its diseased city as one of its three playable characters. It's free for all and available here. Below, a new video glimpse of what awaits.

Playing as the Haruspex in the alpha, your role is part surgeon, part blood-soaked folk healer. He's able to harvest (and sell) organs and fluids from the bodies of the plague's victims, whether they died from the disease itself or not, and use them in search of a cure. Unlike the other characters who come from elsewhere in Pathologic's slightly off-kilter world, this character is from the dying city itself, making for even stranger dialogue. As in the original, the Haruspex begins his story bleeding from multiple wounds having just committed multiple homicide. No rest for the wicked, eh?

Unlike the original (which was hobbled by a terrible translation until Ice-Pick's remaster) Pathologic 2 boasts an exciting localisation crew, including Cat Manning (Where The Water Tastes Like Wine) and Kevin Snow (Mama Possum) among others. If there's anyone I'd trust to make a world seem convincingly human while still being unearthly and unsettling, it's them. Between that and the mechanical improvements Ice-Pick Lodge have been making, I'm excited to play more. I know Pathologic 2 is going to hurt me - scar me, even - but I've made my peace with that. I'm ready.

To play the public Alpha, you'll need to sign up for it on Ice-Pick's site here. You should get your link to it almost instantly via email - a 10gb download. As Ice-Pick say, "Have fun suffering.". There's still no release date for Pathologic 2, but TinyBuild have stepped up to publish it. You can find the game on Steam here and on its official page here, rich with juicy development blog posts.

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Dominic Tarason