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Hmm. I appear to have depressed the bird man again. I entered one of the sick, blistered, pulsating buildings and got stabbed up by a short ninja.

I’m not entire sure why.

I’ve just been introduced to the existence of a game called “Pathologic”, which has been warping my brain for a little while now.

To describe Pathologic as weird would be an understatement of the “golly, that sky’s a bit high up, isn’t it?”, “Pluto, eh? bit nippy”, “That crack cocaine stuff’s a bit moreish” school. So you have this game of abstract concepts, non-obvious plotlines and surreal suggestion, wrapped up in a tissue of self-awareness. One of the interesting things about the idea of story and style in games is that the industry has a tendency to ignore hundreds of years of theatrical style and study in favour of duplication of modern Hollywood styles or reinventing the wheel, in this we have a startlingly different – almost Artaudian – level of unreality. So this starts off in a weird place to begin with.

Then you have the fact that I’m playing the demo, which apparently drops you in on day 4 of the character’s adventures. In fact, you’re dropped in at the start of Act 4, which starts with a symbolic play about the events of the previous day in game time, after which (unless you leave early) you pick which character to play. The demo only has one character you can play, out of three.

The game, incidentally, boasts 24 hours of game play per character, and different plots per character, so 72 hours solid game play, so, that’s Day 4, or halfway into the story, with an introduction of what happened the day before, but no grander plot exposition. Which is weird.

Then we get into the plot exposition, which explains who your character is. He then kills some people. This apparently all happens before the game starts (as in, before the full game starts, not just the demo). Then we leap back into Day 4.

All of this is presented in a translation from the original Russian which meanders from the beautifully poetic though the gardens of mildly confusing and into the mud of the entirely incomprehensible. Often in the same sentence. So, you have a game that is designed to confuse you, wrapped in language you can’t decipher, and you’re dumped into the middle of the plot.

If I can work though the problems (I haven’t even started on the game play, you’ll notice) it could be worth my while to go though it, just to see how glorious the story and the game could become. Apparently the German translation is awesome, and the original Russian is wonderful. And, of course, I need an excuse to learn Russian…

I suspect I’m going in search of the full game of this one…

… for a slightly more well-rounded review of the full game, try the inimitable John Walker’s Eurogamer review.

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