DAY 4: BONES, THUGS ‘N’ MISERY

   

Day 4 is a complete rat bastard and it is mercilessly clawing my face and genitals with sadistic, deliberate glee.

My first stop of the day is at Vlad Jr.’s shitshack so that I can buy an updated town map. Infected districts appear red on the map and “closed” districts that were infected the day before appear as black. That seems ominous but actually black districts aren’t too bad to navigate. The air is an acrid yellow and there are still rats and assholes with knives (both can be taken out with a headshot, however), but no plague clouds. The daily state of the districts changes abruptly at midnight and the map reverts to unmarked until I pay Junior to update it.

 

The plague spreads in a mostly logical fashion.

 

Vlad also has a quest for me. It’s a real doozy and the first real indication that Ice-Pick is a gang of complete sadists. He mentions almost off-handedly that Lara, Anna and Julia have been given various medications in order to test their efficacy against the plague, but the testing has been problematic. Being a doctor in an insane Russian adventure game as I am, the obvious solution is to gather up all the medicine from the ladies, take them all and then stand in an infected house and see what’s next!

 

  

I get directed to an infected house where a Mask ushers me in. I need to survive for one full game hour, which actually isn’t as bad as it seems provided I “work the system” a little. Game time actually passes a little faster if I have my inventory screen open – convenient, since the game clock is visible there. There is no real safe place inside the house but staying on the ground floor near the door works out the best, I believe. I still end up having to weather a handful of full hits by plague clouds. The medications work but they come at a price: both health and exhaustion are affected. Fortunately I can offset that by wearing some protective clothing, bandages for health and coffee or lemons for exhaustion. That’s right, lemons. Don’t ask me. In truth, I end up barely using the medications given to me inside the house, because I am a rancid cheating bastard. Ha ha, like I care. Despite that, I cringe and feel my skin crawl whenever I get a face full of one of one of those billowing plague maws. I get  a nice reward and a surplus of medications for my efforts.

Vlad Sr. has also sent me a letter during the morning. He asks me to assist in setting up an isolation ward, a hospital, and a mortuary. The Cathedral will be the isolation ward as it is generally kept in a state of cleanliness and it is the largest building furthest from the Tanners District. Lara Ravel has “agreed” to offer her house as a hospital. I say “agreed” because in speaking with her it becomes clear that she was strong-armed into doing so. The morgue, of course, will be set up in a warehouse crawling with psychotic murderous hobos. Where else?

More on that later. Lara’s real issue regarding having her house serve as a hospital is that her it no longer has running water. Apparently there was a wacky mix-up with a local gentryman who misunderstood her when she said she needed clean water and thought she meant “break my pipes with a sledgehammer.” It happens more than you think! Anyway, this happenstance removes her and her house from obligation. The Theater is the next option, but the fruity tragedians locked it up. I am able to obtain a key from one trapped in an infected district by leading him out. The Cathedral is also locked, the keys in the possession of a dude wandering around the Vein District (the infected district southeast of the Tanners District) near a tavern. Leading him out of the infected area earns me a set of the Cathedral keys and bottle of twyrine (which possesses some vague medicinal properties). Eventually the Theater is used as both hospital and morgue.

 

The Tragedian, though harmless, still somehow manages to be nightmare fuel.

 

A bit later in the day Alex Saburov sends a letter requesting an audience with me. He’s as pissed off as I am that the closed districts are crawling with knife-wielding maniacs. Victor Kain is also concerned by the fact that they aren’t wearing any protective clothing against the plague, suggesting the closed districts are disease-free. Victor asks me to check out one of the houses and see if there are any signs of disease. I promise to bring back a crowbar from one of the thieves as proof that I was there.

I go to a house in the locked Tanners District and enter. There a few marauders – nimble homicidal jerks in ski masks – inside. They hide curled up in corners and stairwells and spring out when someone comes near. Rather they would if I didn’t blow their heads off before they got the chance. I loot the corpses and the house and head down to talk to Gryph, since he’s suspect #1 when it comes to thieves and assorted scum in town.

 

These jerkoffs lying dead on the ground is one of the game's more pleasing sights.

 

Gryph pleads innocent to having any part in the wanton street violence taking place and in fact fingers a splinter group of thugs led by a man named Braga. Braga and his bloodthirsty crew are camped out in a warehouse – the warehouse Vlad charged me with securing as a morgue, incidentally. I find that amusing because it is highly likely that anyone playing the game might stumble into that warehouse unaware of what lurks within and be stabbed to death on short order by crazed hobos…and not be remotely surprised that the game did this. I certainly wasn’t the first time it happened to me.

I won’t mince words about this part of the game. I will mince statistics instead. Knowing full well that Pathologic is no stroll down Easy Street, I kept a general tally of how many times I had to reload the game:

 

 

Not even in the throes of utter cluelessness during Day 1 did I come close to the merciless ball-breaking meted out on Day 4. The lion’s share of those reloads come from this quest, “Rubber’s Own” AKA The Hobo Hoedown. This quest requires FPS Hard Difficulty Setting twitch skills. I should mention that I do not now nor have I ever possessed FPS Hard Difficulty Setting twitch skills. Upon entering the warehouse, knife-wielding killers come charging at me. The only weapon that is of use is the revolver, as the rifle’s rate of fire is too piss-poor to be of use. Headshots are mandatory to fell the bastards in one shot. This is difficult enough as these clowns move almost too quickly to track unless they are headed straight at me, but Ice-Pick ensured maximum sphincter-clenching by putting in seven guys, just so I’d absolutely have to reload the six-shooter. Number seven is Braga and he is a little tougher to kill, naturally. I could try to use the iron sighting but ha ha, it’s harder to see through the iron sights. The colors are warped and a lot of detail is lost. I try to move as close to the spot where the killers start barreling out of once I enter the warehouse so that after I empty my pistol on the first six, I have a modicum of time to reload as I retreat to the all-too-close far side of the place. I unload in Braga’s face and he gets maybe one hit on me. Apparently there is a bug wherein I can jump on a nearby crate and he won’t will be able to actually hit me and I can take my time, but I am loathe to use actual bugs to get an edge in a game. It just feels…unseemly.

 

Iron Sighting is useful but not without its drawbacks.

 

What all this ultimately proves is that people may move back into Districts after they clear the 24 hour “Closed” period. Fortunately, the reward for waxing Braga and his merry band of idiots is sizable: 15,000 between Alex and Gryph, plus assorted cash, loot and a Reputation increase. I blow it on that sweet rifle. It’s “Me” time, god dammit. The rate of fire, as mentioned, is horrible but it has great range and can kill at least two people in one shot if they are standing single file.

What a day. Tomorrow I have to murder innocents and defile their corpses. Whatever, as long as I don’t have to fight off any more knifebums, you know? Hobonomics. The Hobo Hoedown. Knifebums. This game is starting to play like a homeless person’s vengeful fever dream. If the town is overrun by skull-emblazoned shopping carts with flaming wheels on Day 9, I’m quitting.

  

   

NEXT: FULL HOUSE, HEARTS OVER ACES