Pathologic devs' new game, Know By Heart, is out
Old friends and light puzzling
Know By Heart, the new game from Ice-Pick Lodge, makers of Pathologic, is described as a "sentimental adventure." It's about a group of friends reuniting in their provincial Russian hometown, which is rendered with golden hour lighting and inhabited by soft, faceless characters. But around the edges of the launch trailer there's plenty of signs of Ice-Pick's typical dread and anxiety.
According to the game's Steam page, Know By Heart is five hours long and tells a story with "non-linear elements" about Misha, who is stuck in a dead-end job but offered an escape from ennui by the return to town of his high school crush. This reunion is interwoven with "a brief but tumultuous episode of the town’s life", in which "memories of the past and the very bonds between them become threatened."
In terms of what you're actually doing, there's seemingly none of Pathologic's punishing meter-based survival mechanics. Instead it's pitched as a 3D visual novel with some light puzzles - mostly mini-games which aim to represent the thoughts and feelings of the main character.
As Ice-Pick Lodge games go, it's pretty welcoming - albeit not so much as the cheery, oddball vehicle construction and nudey Phil Mitchell babes of Cargo.
There's few games RPS is associated with more than Pathologic, thanks to Quinns' impassioned, three-part explication of its themes, Butchering Pathologic. Brendan didn't entirely click with the sequel in his Pathologic 2 review, finding that the tedium of its meter-based survival mechanics overwhelmed any greater meaning.
Whatever else you can say about their often punishing, often janky games, Ice-Pick Lodge are never boring. You can pick up Know By Heart from Steam for £15.50/€16.80/$20.