Posts Tagged ‘Quinns’

Butchering Pathologic – Part 3: The Soul


[Following on from the first two parts, this is the grand finale of Quinns’ evisceration of the game Walker described as “Oblivion with Cancer”. As a compliment. Lots of spoilers, but you should read it anyway.]

Butchering Pathologic
Part III: The Soul

There are two themes that run through Pathologic like a couple of sharks lurking in a swimming pool. By themes I mean something that’s vital to the vision of the game yet is detached from the structure of the game proper- something like Half-Life 2’s Orwellian influence, or Beyond Good and Evil’s cartoon imagery. In the case of Half-Life 2, there’s nothing about City 17’s hi-tech tyranny that directly affects your running and gunning. Likewise in Beyond Good and Evil the fact that your hovercraft is repaired by walruses doesn’t make a difference when you’ve got a puzzle in front of you.

In the case of Pathologic, the two themes are meat and theater. And at least to my mind, they’re what propel the game from being interesting and brave to being beautiful. It’s an ugly, ugly beauty though.
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Butchering Pathologic – Part 2: The Mind


[Following on from yesterday’s installment, Quinns continues his examination of the award winning Russian obscurity Pathologic. Spoilers abound. Oh – and if all this has tempted you, it turns out it is available as a digital download from GamersGate.]

Butchering Pathologic
Part II: The Mind

In a single word, Pathologic is dark. And not “we’re going to make our sequel a darker, more adult experience” dark. Not ‘teen angst’ dark. Pathologic is an endlessly bleak game with an atmosphere that smothers all hope. It’s ‘pensioner breaking a leg in his bedsit and no one finding out until the smell starts to get unbearable’ dark.
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Butchering Pathologic – Part 1: The Body

Yeah, probably not many jokes on these images.
[Wandering RPS-associate Quinns went native in a Russian art-videogame called Pathologic and has been exciting us with rants about it ever since. It’s an enthralling game that, when I reviewed it, felt compelled to give a mark in the low fifties (“This will be someone’s favourite game of the year. That somebody almost certainly won’t be you.”). John gave it a 6/10 review which nevertheless left anyone with a soul desperate to play the thing. It’s a brilliant game that the traditional reviewer has to condemn. This may, to some eyes, show a weakness in traditional reviews and reviewers. But there’s always more than tradition. We’re proud to be publishing Quintin’s dissection over the next three days. Spoilers abound, but – c’mon! – you were never going to play it anyway. I consider this essential. Take it away, Quintin… – KG]

Okay.

…okay.

I’m going to explain, right now, why a Russian FPS/RPG called Pathologic is the single best and most important game that you’ve never played.
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Lost in the Supermarket

[Quinns is RPS’ roving reporter. Sometimes he roves closer to home. That is, the local department store. And then he starts thinking. Then he mails us frenetically. And we post it, as it keeps him away from us with his youthful vigour and knives.]

I think games may be screwing us up more than we think. Hear me out here.

So I was out buying a breadknife recently, and I was standing there in front of this big ol’ wall of knives. And there were all kinds of them, from the department store’s own classy brand, to sci-fi looking ones with ugly transparant handles, to the top-of-the-range how-the-Hell-can-a-piece-of-metal-cost-that-much Global Knives.

Now I don’t usually buy domestic stuff like this. I’m your regular “Hey, if I eat these instant noodles straight from the kettle I can save myself from doing washing up!” class of bachelor, so I’ll admit to not knowing the standard procedure for picking out a breadknife. But what ended up going through my head was this:

“I should by the best breadknife available. It’ll minimise the time I have to spend cooking, and it’ll save me from wasting money on an inferior knife should I decide I want to upgrade it at a later point.”

Recognise that particular school of thought? IT’S FROM THE SIMS.

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From Alpha To Omega

[Quintin Smith is Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s roving reporter. He’s famously easy to talk into fun stuff. Once I talked him into hitting on girls at a hyper-elitist indie-rock festival in the style of Oblivion’s conversation sequences, heavily cribbing from Consolevania‘s review of Bethesda’s game. And he got worryingly far. He’s easy to talk into fun stuff because he believes in fun stuff. Hence he’s the ideal man to send to investigate the enormous house of gaming fun that is Birmingham’s Omega Sektor. Or so it says here, anyway. Take it away, Mr Smith…]

Some Games PCs, yesterday.

And now for a bit of investigative journalism. Come with me as I take you on a journey through the world of the truth. Be warned, for the path we’ll walk is paved with jagged, cutting interviews and broken hearts. If at any point you find yourself overwhelmed with emotion, I think it was Machiavelli who once said that ‘you can cry, ain’t no shame in it.’ But you should always remember that I never cried during the making of this piece. Not once. Because I am a grizzled journalist.

Let’s begin.

Here in the UK there’s been some chatter about the recently opened Omega Sektor in Birmingham, or to use it’s full, nauseating name, Omega Sektor: The Play Place. The Omega Sektor in Birmingham is planned to be the first of many and is advertised as a kind of gamer’s Mecca. The website offers hundreds of super-advanced PCs as well as games consoles, sponsorship from major game publishers, special events and tournaments, ‘guest appearances’, a chillout lounge, a VIP room, and above all- acceptance.

Everything I read about Omega Sektor made it seem an electronic milk and honey wonderland, where young and old gamers of all walks of life can come together and hold hands before blowing each other’s virtual kneecaps off. To quote from the site, “When gran challenges the twins to a game, you know you’re having a good day out.” But it all sounded bogus to me. I’m pretty sure when gran challenges anybody to anything all you know is that it’s time to help look for her medication.

All this chatter made me curious and the whole project clearly had massive financial backing, so I decided to travel up to Birmingham in the name of providing a thorough report on Omega Sektor for Rock Paper Shotgun. I also decided to pack a lunch and make a day of it, but then I remembered how horrible it is when companies try and make gaming cool and I got hit by a wave of apathy that led to my packed lunch being a bagel and a bottle of Famous Grouse.

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They Aren’t Trying

RPS-roving reporter Quinns has been crying over this, so I have to share. It’s the first footage for THEY (Whose name doesn’t appear to actually have capital letters in any of the press we can find, but seems to demand it), being developed by Metropolis Software who you may know from the incredibly lovely, no really, honest, Aurora Rising.

Here’s the trailer. To avoid spoiling it for you, the (er) critique is beneath the cut.

Thanks, Game Trailers.

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The Right To Bear Arms +4

[First of our SPECIAL GUEST posts by friends of Rock, Paper, Shotgun. This time it’s world-traveler and local-bemuser Quintin Smith, who I once spurred into hitting on girls in the manner of an Oblivion conversation. No, really.]

There’s a degree of masochism involved in playing roguelikes. As well as choosing to suffer through hideous tile-based graphics and razor-sharp difficulty spikes you have to deal with the total loss of progress with each death. But you know what? It’s just so hard to find the freedom and unpredictibility they offer anywhere else.

So that’s my excuse as to why, after swearing them off as a genre following a long hot summer where I was having my heart broken by Zangband on a nightly basis, I’ve started again. I’m playing Iter Vehemens ad Necem this time, which is a little less polished and forgoes races and classes but manages to squeeze in a plot and gets nice and specific with regards to body parts. Limbs can be lost (and replaced with poor-quality substitutes), heads can be struck (causing blackouts and brain damage) and groins can be melted away.

Man!

It is, naturally, just as rat hellbastard hard as all the others. The very first thing you’ll want to do is kill the pet dog you start the game with, because while it’ll help out in combat it’ll also chow down on any and all bodies you leave behind, contract leprosy from a zombie corpse and silently infect you. You’ll find out you’ve got leprosy when one of your limbs abruptly falls off. This happened to me. It happened during combat. And it happened to the arm I was carrying my sword with.

Not one to be easily licked, I proceeded to kick the kobold I was fighting with to death, which I managed in the nick of time because my legs fell off directly afterwards. Recovering my sword and boots from the pile of rotting flesh I left behind, I rolled around thoughtfully for a while before remembering I had found the holy book of the goddess of healing. I sent up a prayer and lo and behold, she cured me and granted me new limbs!

…quartz ones!

These worked out better than you’d think, right up to my encounter with a Dwarven suicide bomber. I might have been okay if the explosion had just shattered my limbs, but it broke all my potion bottles too. And so it was that Sir Quinns XIV bled to death trying to roll out of a room full of broken glass.

There are lots of lessons to be learnt from roguelikes, and not just ‘Buy cans of banana flesh from the starting village, eat the contents and put your potions inside them’. I’d like to see more games use the one-life structure. For something that can conjure up enough horror, tension and elation to leave you punch-drunk developers seem so damn scared of using it.