- December 22nd, 2010
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DAY 3: KILLING TIME
Oh, Hell yes. After two days of tension mounting in a rather impressive fashion, the game really feels like it is in full swing on Day 3. And by “in full swing,” I mean “rapidly spiraling into bleak hopelessness.” I’m positively giddy!
Day 3 is the first day that a district of town is fully infected – the Tanners’ District in the northeast part of town, where Rubin’s house is located. All of the Districts have names and I will have to be honest, I still have no idea what most of them are. It’s not like they’re labeled on the map. Pfft, that’s too easy. Besides, I’m too busy breaking out in a cold sweat and having a total blast!
Vlad Jr. will sell me a map every morning that shows which districts are infected for a paltry 1,000 coins. It’s nice to know where these areas are when plotting my itinerary, since although they aren’t closed off (as dialogue in the game seems to imply), they are fraught with peril. Fraught! That is not to imply they are difficult to spot otherwise. Ha ha, hardly.
The major entrances to an infected district have warning signs consisting of ragged banners with dead rats hanging from them. That is a warning that the rats which now spawn in diseased districts will attack and spread disease. As ammo is scarce and expensive (and firing a weapon degrades its quality), I try to just avoid the rats. It’s too hard to try to crouch and stab them with a knife. The air has an uncomfortable green tinge to it and the music is warped and more frenetic. The worst part, however, are the Sand Plague death clouds. They spawn suddenly and rush to attack, billowing purple mists with unsettling silently screaming faces. I found these quite chilling at first, but that feeling faded in short order. They tend to spawn in both random and specific places, which is goddamned frustrating since many of the specific places happen to be right at entrances to other districts.
Guards are posted as well. Their job is to punch diseased townsfolk (who are covered in bandages and will infect and drain health if touched) in the head until they die. Townsfolk beating the shit out of each other is not that unusual, really. In the first two days townspeople randomly beat each other down, I assume to reflecy the panic and paranoia that the Sand Plague fosters. They never attack me so, you know, who cares! Such is the level of ancillary sociopathy Pathologic fosters.
At the behest of the Kains I speak to Vlad Jr. and see if he knows anything about Rubin, Simon’s body, and the spread of the infection in general. Victor thinks Rubin is dead but Vlad reasons that it is far more likely that Rubin has absconded with Simon’s body to a secret place, a place he claims to know but refuses to tell you unless you help him settle the growing animosity between the Olgimskys and Kains. A large part of this discord stems from Vlad Sr.’s refusal to allow access to the Apiary to look for signs of the infection. Vlad Jr. rationalizes that since the Polyhedron was secured after the Apiary and Simon and/or whomever was with him when he first showed signs of infection had some form of contact with those inside the Polyhedron, if it is clean then so is the Apiary. That’s a Hell of a convolution to send me to the Polyhedron, but hey: adventure games. Victor accepts this compromise and drafts a letter granting me access to the Polyhedron, and off I go.
The Polyhedron is one of a handful of enormous structures in town that I am dying to explore, so of course I’m excited. Maybe there are dead people in there, hee hee! Alas, most of the structure is a long, winding, narrow pathway to its summit, then a dog head guard allows me passage through a teleporter to the inner sanctum. Oddly enough, being inside the Polyhedron’s inner chamber completely breaks the map as it shows me somewhere in the middle of town as opposed to still within the Polyhedron itself. It is a haven of sorts for the children of the town and is run by the Khan – rather Kaspar Kain, oh ho – who denies any signs of infection therein.
Vlad Jr. has a surprising lead on the whereabouts of Simon’s body. A pair of butchers were spotted, possibly with a body. Vlad directs me to their likely hideout and warns me that violence will probably ensue. At last, murder. Combat with a revolver essentially boils down to getting a headshot because that usually kills an enemy in one shot, as opposed to hitting anywhere else on the body which may take as any as 3 or 4 hits to take a man down.
After I kill the butchers I examine the flyblown corpse laid out on the bed. It isn’t Simon, alas, yet the Kains reward me all the same. I loot the house and depart. As a side note, it is possible I could use a lockpick that I acquire in trade from children in the town and break into other homes and plunder them. However, most are occupied and if I am seen my reputation will drop and a fight may ensue. Fortunately, I don’t find that route necessary thanks to aggressive Hobonomics. Plus, just walking about provides various loot in the form of random pickups. B&E is for suckaz.
But soft! Rubin yet lives. I receive a letter from him imploring me to meet him in his secret lab in the warehouse district. He still has Simon’s body but he can’t report on any findings without permission to dissect him, as a surprisingly stodgy city ordnance forbids it. Alex Saburov may be able to countermand the law for emergency’s sake, but upon speaking to him about it he is highly reluctant – by both writ of law and the widely-held belief cutting on bodies will encourage the activity of evil spirits. I would have never guessed this a town full of Shintos. He does however suggest petitioning the assistance of a butcher, as it seems more of them have escaped the Apiary, because they don’t give a rusty damn about kooky ordnances or superstitions. As with the butcher from Day 1, Ospina is protecting them.
Ospina won’t allow me to speak to any of the butchers unless I get Vlad Sr. to desist his search for them – all escapees from the Apiary, actually. Vlad agrees to this in exchange for me convincing the Kains to stop their search for Burakh (the Haruspicus, the second playable character). Thankfully, Vlad agrees without demanding I go convince someone else to do something first.
While at Vlad’s I speak with Kapella, his young daughter. She talks about the first time a plague such as this swept through town, mentioning how a special healing powder was ground up and put in little boxes. The powder is extremely potent but also equally harsh on the body’s health. She says some of the town children have found these boxed powders and now possess them, including a boy by the name of Idler. Idler is somewhere in the now-infected Tanner’s District. I will be going there later in the day so I keep this in mind. I should mention that I have no idea how this quest presents itself other than pure luck in finding it myself by speaking with Kapella today, as no other clues or leads that I recall referenced it.
Ospina does me one further: he deliberately sends the butchers into the Tanner’s District to get infected and die. I have to hazard the Tanner’s District and find all three of the butcher’s corpses. Two of the butchers had families but the third did not, so his body has been taken to the cemetery, whereupon I should be able to abscond with it. This part of the game was a real pain in the ass because it is not at all clear that all three butcher’s corpses must be discovered before I am able to go to the cemetery. It’s also more than a little confusing, the leap of narrative logic from the need of a butcher to dissect Simon’s body to acquiring an infected dead butcher for Rubin to dissect instead.
I also find Idler and obtain the boxed powder, but in doing so I become severely infected, forcing me to use the powder immediately. It heals me completely but all but wipes my health out. I assume this is a means to demonstrate the value and severe side effect of using one of these powders, as more are made available later on.
After a brief visit with Laska, the keeper of the cemetery (another child prodigy) who gives me a one of those boxed powders that Kapella spoke about, I attempt to get my hands on the butcher’s corpse. However, a pair of guards try to shake me down for 10,000 coins. This is one of the few times I don’t have the necessary scratch to handle a hefty plot tariff, so I go with Option B: refusing, getting the shit beat out of me, and waking up in Alex Saburov’s lap (figuratively speaking). There’s an obvious health and a reputation hit for this, but these are easy issues to remediate. Hobos are a source of bandages and tourniquets which restore health and in addition to plot-related reputation bumps, sick townspeople lay scattered about in infected districts who can be healed for added rep (I always use meradorm, as this is a common barter item with the children). Additionally, I can return to the cemetery freely and obtain a blood sample from the butcher’s corpse, which I take to Rubin and examine under his microscope. How the Hell a blood sample is the only thing we needed baffles me. I thought we had to chop people up! What is this nonsense! Rubin reports that he believes the plague is only contagious in living flesh, and likely kills by attacking the heart. Armed with this knowledge, I call it a day.