A full remake of the classic Russian survival/roleplaying game Pathologic is currently in developement once again by Ice-Pick Lodge, at the reigns of both developing and publishing. The engine of choice is Unity, and the game will be available for PC (Microsoft Windows/OS X/Linux), PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, scheduled for release in fall 2017. Pathologic: The Marble Nest, a pre-alpha demo for eligible backers, was released on 1 December, 2016.
Kickstarter[edit | edit source]
On the year of 2012, Ice-Pick Lodge expressed interest in working on a crowd-funded modern remake of Pathologic. On 4 September 2014 a Kickstarter campaign was launched. The campaign was successful, and gathered $333,127 of the pledged $250,000 goal.
The remake version will feature new quests and content, improved visuals from the Unity engine, more balanced gameplay, smarter AI for the NPCs, realistic behavior patterns for the Sand Plague disease, and improved English localization. Still, the team had planned a series of stretch goals—new ideas—to have incorporated into the new Pathologic. Additional funding has allowed the team to reach the Town Extended, the Steppe Extended and the Lucid Dreaming stretch goals. Crowd-funding is still open, and it will be used to keep improving the development of the game.
Stretch Goals[edit | edit source]
- [ACHIEVED] The Town Extended. This stretch goal seems pretty self-explanatory, and yet it's the toughest one to explain. We've launched this whole campaign to make an extended version of the game after all, didn't we? Thing is, it's always possible to add more. More unique objects, more dialogue options, more questlines, more events happening around you. And it won't be filler content either. Say, there are plot-dependent areas planned in the warehouse district; but what if you could also find caches and hideouts there? What if street NPCs had additional reactions to your activities? What if there were simply more questlines? You would become even more hard-pressed for time, sure, but we'll balance it. The Town is a finished place, but we can always improve it intensively, adding more small locations, hidden corners, nooks and crannies. Also: more quests, more NPCs—more content in general.
- [ACHIEVED] The Steppe Extended. The Steppe is rather poor in terms of content right now, and that makes sense, since the plot of Pathologic takes place mostly in a single location, the characters being unable to leave The Town. While we don't intend to change that, we can sneak in some loopholes, inviting the characters to explore new and fresh locations in the steppe (close to The Town, of course). It can even lead to them having new activities there. That also obviously means more quests, more steppe NPCs, more weird creatures, and generally more steppiness.
- [ACHIEVED] Lucid Dreaming. Thoughts and ideas are an important part of Pathologic, and it's known that the Plague "speaks to its victims, scrutinizing them". We would like that to become an even more prevalent motif, adding dreams in form of interactive experiences. Got infected? Go see the Plague in person. Found out new crucial information that completely changes everything? Same here. All those hints and omens dropped and mentioned everywhere will now appear in the flesh. Also more weird and creepy imagery. And these are not random events—they will depend on how you play and how the plot you create unfolds.
- Termitary and Abattoir. The original Pathologic only showed you a chart of these behemoth constructions rather than their real innards. The poor interiors did nothing to reflect their grandeur. We'll change that in the remake anyway, sure, but reaching this stretch goal would allow us to make a full-fledged ethnographic expedition into The Termitary and The Abattoir. You'll be able to see the daily life, the traditions, and the culture of a very peculiar working community of steppe butchers that live inside and retain multiple traits of a primitive society. It's "a town inside The Town", and it'll contain loads of new content, quests, and experiences.
- A Small Prequel. Pathologic is plot-heavy, and a lot of important stuff happens right before the start of the game. As a player, you'll uncover the partial truth behind the events that have shaped the current state of The Town, but you'll never be able to see the perfect and complete picture. You'll never be able to see them at all—only speculate. Simply showing these events would be a spoiler, but we're keen on making an additional day-long story with unique content. It won't be Kickstarter-exclusive. Please keep in mind that it won't feature the same playable characters. The whole point of the prequel is to show you the things that the main trio would never be able to see and learn. But you will.
Features[edit | edit source]
Ice-Pick Lodge writes:
«There'll be new quests, events, and plotlines, and some filler quests that were added for the sake of adding something will be rid of.
Graphics will be much better. We'll do everything we can so that the game looks adequate even ten years from now.
Gameplay will be way more balanced. We're not talking about making it simpler and survival easier, mind you; but fights used to be annoying rather than tense and emotional, scavenging was very rudimentary, and the economy of a plagued town was hardly a system at all. We plan to change all that, making all these mechanics robust. That doesn't mean the game'll become a breeze, it just means we'll replace artificial challenges with real ones.
Street NPCs will have advanced AIs that'll make them feel way more alive. Once again, we're not abandoning the concept of them being "extras" in this play, we just want those extras to perform better.
We'll also add realistic behavior patterns to the disease.
Localization will be done internally or with the help of trusted outsourcers who are not only native speakers, but also talented writers. We understand that Pathologic is extremely hard to translate, so—once again—we won't try to do it directly, but rather reconstruct the game in different languages.»
Not a Remake[edit | edit source]
The Ice-Pick Lodge team has insisted on labeling the 2017 remake as a reimagining. They claim "the new Pathologic will be different from the original one," while maintaining the primary structural elements:
- Twelve days in a remote Steppe town;
- same three protagonists, whose stories complement one another in much the same fashion (but more coherently);
- same NPCs* (this was not a real asterisk, but just our way of pointing out that they're not completely the same—see below);
- the world is still three-fold; Pathologic remains a game about three ideologies and worldviews clashing;
- at its gameplay core, Pathologic is still a survival game—and a rather hard one at that;
- the state of your character is still represented by a number of bars, so you'll have to do a lot of resource juggling (no unnecessary streamlining here);
- your main resource and main opponent is still time itself—you'll have to manage it carefully;
- the lore and setting will be explored deeper, but no major changes here either (the Steppe people still worship bulls, have a cult of body, and use a sacred alphabet).
Tweakings and Reinterpretations[edit | edit source]
However, there are other aspects of the game that will vary in different cases:
- NPCs. They keep their names, general appearance, and social status; most also keep their role in the story. They are, by and large, the same people. However, they may get additional backstories, unexpected development, and—in some cases—even find a different mission (the latter is mostly relevant for the characters who were a bit underdeveloped in the original game). There may be twists, but no heel-face turns. A good example would be Aspity not only serving as the keeper of Artemy's inheritance and protector of the Worms, but also getting her own agenda inside the Kin's politics.
- The Town. While the general layout remains the same (with points of interest located more or less in the same areas, i.e. the Theatre being in the center, the Cathedral looming across the Kains', etc), the details will change—as dictated by the Town Expanded stretch goal that we've reached. Streets can shift, random houses multiply, new paths emerge. There'll be no drastic changes, but you will more than likely have to explore some areas anew. (The game will obviously be balanced with all that in mind.)
- The plot. This one is hard to explain without spoilers. Basically, the main characters' storylines remain the same, but the particular events that they're woven of can be very different. Say, the Haruspex still begins the game as an outcast who is widely hated in the Town; his starting goal is still to fix this—but the redemption options may be different. However, their goals and motivations remain the same, as do their general modi operandi.
- "Extras." The streets will still be filled with a number of character types, but their cast (so to speak) will change. Some of the new characters pay obvious homage to the original ones or are simply their revamped versions, while others are completely new.
- Your activities. The list of activities will mostly remain the same (you can barter, talk, fight, explore, talk, burgle, talk, lick your wounds, talk some more), but that doesn't mean that the process itself will feel the same. It is very likely that after fine-tuning and rebalancing the dangerousness, importance, and risk-reward ratio of some activities will change (we're looking at you, oh way-too-farmable-fights from the old game). Consequently, they will have different roles in your basic routine.
New Elements[edit | edit source]
And these are the number of elements that will be introduced in the new Pathologic:
- The robust disease mechanics. The original Pathologic was a bit of a paradox in this regard: it was a game about a plague that featured rather linear plague mechanics. While there technically were two bars associated with the disease (Infection and Immunity), they worked in a very straightforward manner (low infection = good, high = bad, Hulk = smash) and only affected you. They were a challenge, but not a story. In the new Pathologic, we're introducing a way, way less one-dimensional disease system. It will work dynamically. It will change things. It will become a separate layer of the narrative. The desire to spoil some of its more curious aspects is excruciating, but we'll still our hands. One example is that you will not necessarily be always up to date with the processes happening within your own body—and evaluating your own state will become a part of the game.
- The robust disease mechanics, part II: outside your body. The whole dualism of the same entity operating within your body and in the outer world will be explored way further. The Plague outside you will also become much more complicated and treacherous. Without spoiling much, let's just say that the things you're used to being safe can suddenly become deadly… and that doesn't just mean the things that had the ability to infect you in the original game.
- The fights. It's not just the mechanics that are being reworked, but also the role of the fights in your day-to-day routine. For one, the idea that every fight has to end in someone's death operates very much under video game logic; in real life (and in the new Pathologic, of course) you are way more likely to be beaten or mugged than straight out killed.
- Events instead of quests and tasks. Have you ever met a person—only to be asked to repair their torn relationship with a family member two days after you've first seen one another? And to be freaking paid for your troubles? It happens once in a while—but video games seem to believe that this is normal behavior. It's not. Moreover, in real life, people tend to set their own goals. We're introducing such a system to Pathologic—a system where you will very rarely be asked to do something. Most oftenly, you will simply be made aware of events unfolding, but it will be up to you whether (and how) to participate. That does not mean that there'll be no rewards—just like in real life, proactivity leads to certain benefits. But figuring out what to do will be part of the challenge, the story, and (dare we say) the fun. More on that in further updates. (Incidentally, this is the snippet that most asterisks were leading to.)
- You will influence the NPCs' fates. In the old Pathologic, there were precisely two cases of you choosing the fate of the Bound people—and it was a life-or-death choice in both cases. Well, now you'll get a chance to become more involved. Did you participate? Did you set them straight? Did you offer an advice that lead them to an unfortunate outcome? There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but being able to influence the fates of those around you fits so well with the structure of Pathologic that we couldn’t help introducing it.