In Depth: Pathologic Pt. 2
DAY 2: BLOOD, MOOD AND DOOM
Much like Day 1, Day 2 has three main quests to solve, all of which are fairly intricate and involve trudging to and fro all over the town. I have to be very careful with my schedule or I will either run out of time and whiff on a 22:00 quest appointment, or I might max out my Exhaustion which will kill me in short order. The upside is that since I will essentially walk all over town and then some today, it will be easy to dumpster dive and partake in Hobonomical exchange with the locals. One must be diligent with these matters at all times.
Out of some odd sense of loyalty that I cannot quite define I stay at Eve’s every night, despite there being no restriction on whose bed I sleep in (all the single women in town have beds you can sleep in – The Bachelor, right?). Sure, it has a microscope which has quest relevance along the way but really most of the time I would be better served staying at Lara’s since she lives just up the road from the theater, or Anna’s as she lives near both Alex and Olgimsky and is more near the center of town. Sometimes we defy our best interests in the name of habit, even in the face of daunting opposition.
All of today’s quests are initiated by letters. I had to reload after a few hours the first time I played Day 2 because nobody was giving me any quests and I had no goddamned idea what I supposed to do. See, in Pathologic there is a quest journal and a letters journal, which are entirely separate. I suppose that isn’t entirely unintuitive. Pathologic tries to help out by flashing a notification and playing a page-flipping sound bite but the notification is a hieroglyphic (as are all notifications) and who knows what the Hell it means. The confusion is slightly added to as these symbols are also marked on the town map in various locations on the outskirts of town. I visited them all and all that is there is a weird little tent at each spot that cannot be entered (for now at any rate).
Alex Saburov is requesting proof of a Sand Plague outbreak so that he may subsequently assume a leadership role in the town. Anna Angel has a lead, but as is typical with a quest in Pathologic she is several degrees removed from the person who will directly point the way to the specific quest objective – an infected house, in this case. I’d find it frustrating except it affords the opportunity to collect more garbage for bartering. Perhaps this is all artifice, but one of the upsides of Hobonomics is it scratches the ol’ RPG item hoovering itch and makes me feel less like I am playing a mere adventure game.
Thus, Anna refers me to Olgimsky’s weird little daughter Kapella, who then refers me to another child puppetmaster – Spichka – who finally points me towards Isidor’s house where such proof of the infection is purported to exist. Isidor’s house is now covered in giant splotches of congealed blood, which will become one of the standard signs a house or area is infected as the game progresses. Inside, the house appears normal until I find a nurse in a back room and see the room beyond her which is a surreal red-walled Hellhole. Clearly something is amiss! She hands me a key and warns of her “sisters” whom immediately spawn in and try to infect me as I dodge them on the way out. Although this sequence isn’t particularly scary it makes my skin crawl because I suck at dodging. It’s like the game knows all my fears.
I show the key to the diseased “silent house” as proof of the growing plague to Alex, who is practically giddy with regards to the prospect of being granted power over the town’s affairs. Recalling the chilling silent house encounter, I tell him I will probably be shooting motherfuckers in due time and he gives me a revolver in gratitude.
Lara Ravel wants to set up a nearby house up as a shelter for people seeking to avoid contact with any of the infected, but she needs food. Food prices have skyrocketed hilariously from yesterday but little spare money remained at the conclusion of Day 1 and I am reluctant to sell off any items that seem as if they might be of use later in the game. I did try to buy (and avoid eating) food items that I knew would be on the list – bread, dried fish and dried meat. I realize it may seem odd that I clearly play the game using knowledge from playing the game further along that I currently am, but I swear Ice-Pick assumes this. The quest calls for three of each, which I cannot afford outright however between the handouts from Julia, Vlad Jr., Victor and Maria Kain (which collectively total 13,000 coins) I have more than enough to purchase the remaining required items. I take them to the house as requested but it has already fallen to infection. She keeps the food anyway and the quest is complete. Quest rewards vary widely in this game. They can be quite lavish – tens of thousands of coins or rare expensive and useful items – and they can be laughably anemic. Lara’s reward is the latter; she literally pays me in peanuts. They are useful for trading with some of the town children for useful items but Hell, I can dig around in the dumpster outside her house and get stuff of that caliber. Ah well.
The third and final quest feels incongruent with my character’s motivations. It involves attempting to flee the town with Eve per her request. I rationalize this by pretending that I am playing along with her knowing full well we obviously won’t be successful, but if I give it the ol’ college try I will probably still be able to sleep with her (even though I actually never do in the game, but my internal narrative can be quite insistent on certain out-of-game aspects and events). The upside of doing this quest is I get to make acquaintances with the Stamatin brothers, the boozy Andrei and the moody artist Petr. Petr designed the Polyhedron, the massive improbable structure north of the Kain Estate. He considers it his masterpiece and judging by the other works he has on display in his home, I’d say he’s right in at least the relative sense.
The big networking score here is meeting Gryph, the leader of a band of thugs who hide out in a warehouse in the warehouse district. Gryph becomes useful in later quests and he also sells weapons and ammunition at the usual exorbitant prices. It’s kind of funny that I would balk at paying 15,000 for a rifle when 15,000 barely pays for enough food to feed me for two days. Oddly enough, he gives me a revolver as well. It is in a bad state of repair but weapons can be returned to a pristine state by paying one of the guys dressed like a dockworker to fix them. Weapon quality degrades with usage and this affects accuracy, so having two revolvers is nice because I can keep one that is fully repaired when I need to kill someone at range.
The quest is meant to conclude by meeting with Eve and Andrei at the train station at 22:00 and booking passage out of town, however when I go there all I find are a group of guards telling me nobody is leaving town anytime soon. Eve and Andrei offer really lameass excuses when I speak to them about it later. Sure guys, whatever you say. So, this quest I didn’t really ever want to accept in the first place ends up being nearly a complete waste of my time.
Actually, there is no way in Hell I would leave this or any quest unfinished even if it required murdering hobos and/or small children. Ha ha ha wait, I’ve already done those things in this game. Thank you Pathologic, I have no hyperbole that is sufficiently depraved enough to outpace your demented version of standard game play.