๐Ÿ—ก️ Pathologic 2 | Xbox Series X | Review | 5.5/10 | "Tedious mechanics wore down my love for its creepy atmosphere and intriguing mysteries" ๐Ÿ—ก️ @transvaalgf @IcePickLodge #IndieGame #IndieGameDev

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After a few hours of Pathologic 2, I could tell this was going to be a real marmite game, there was a great atmosphere and an interesting mystery being developed but the mechanics were already becoming beyond tedious, so the question would be, “would the interesting philosophical plot with a great atmosphere be enough, or would the increasingly frustrating mechanics be too much of a pain and drag the entire experience down?”

I fell into the latter category and I'm going to start off by saying that I understand why the mechanics were that way, I get it - trying to make an unpleasant experience, hammering home the struggle to survive, I'm well aware of that. When playing a game, however, I actually want to enjoy playing it, the game did exactly what it hoped, it was frustrating, tedious and wore me down, which I understand for some players will add to the experience, but for me, it just meant that I ached to stop playing.

At the very beginning of Pathologic 2, you are given a choice of settings, one is indicated as the setting the developer would like you to choose in order to get the authentic experience, which is what I did. As a focus of Pathologic 2 relates to survival, there are bars that you have to keep filled - stamina, health, thirst etc. Playing on the intended setting, these deplete fast, amazingly fast. If you were an insomniac eating salt in the Sahara Desert, you wouldn’t be as exhausted and thirsty as this and having to find food or find a bed every ten minutes is just monotonous. 

When you start out - the town hates you, which means they will attack you on sight - and good luck defending yourself because the combat is pathetic. I didn’t win a fistfight once and trying to run away isn't helpful as they chase you around and your stamina depletes quickly, so I just ended up dying, which takes me to another double-edged sword - when you die, you are brought back but the bars you need to keep filled get smaller, so they need even more maintaining. This is good as it penalises death… but it exacerbates the already un-exciting gameplay. The town is broken up into small sections and every time you enter them the game loads for a couple of seconds, it’s a small gripe but as you cross sections frequently, it did start to grind on me. 

Now, whereas the gameplay is just too much of a struggle to me, I do appreciate the game’s atmosphere and world-building. The story goes - you are a doctor returning to a town to visit your father, and just as you arrive you learn of his death and also that a plague is spreading throughout the town, and you have 12 days to stop it. I've intentionally left out some other plot points as I think they are best discovered by playing the game. The town has some fascinating mysteries and exploring the characters is really the best part of Pathologic 2, many questions need answering and it's up to you to find out. You do this by questioning the townsfolk, most are cloaked in mystery, very few are friendly, and all are usually hiding something from you.

The conversations with characters can range from thought-provoking to continual non-sequiturs, some conversations are gripping, whilst others just left me cold. Throughout the day you only have so much time to hand but plenty of things to do - which means you will miss certain events and can only focus on specific mysteries, which does give the town added depth and intrigue as well as replayability. I do recommend the playhouse; it produces a show every night and can offer some intriguing foreshadowing.

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