13 October, 2009

Pathologic - Take Two


As I had suspected, the opening scene of Pathologic makes a lot more sense after you've played through the game once. The scene is the interior of the theatre, and you're up on the upper balcony. On stage there are three characters, and they are indeed the Bachelor, the Haruspicus, and the Devotress. The three are arguing, and knowing the course of the game and their individual personalities, it is clear that the nature of their argument is over their methods, their motivations, and what decision they will likely come to. The Bachelor is a man of science and reason, who seeks the Truth above everything, but even at the cost of human lives? The Haruspicus is a surgeon whose goal is to save lives, but his profession involves cutting into people, suggesting that he may end up taking more lives than he saves. The Devotress is a spiritualist, speaking of miracles. She distrusts the other two, believing that though their intentions may be good, they will be forced to sacrifice lives, where she is confident she could produce a miracle. They agree to split up, their characters freeze, the lights go dim, and then you are given a choice of scenarios.

This opening scene very much reinforces the underlying feeling of the whole experience being, at least on some level, a kind of theatrical farce of a play. And since the point of this game is supposed to an "epidemic simulation", you can see that there are layers of meaning and of interpretation, adding to the surreality of the whole affair.

The Haruspicus

The Haruspicus, real name Artemiy Burakh, is a surgeon, a "Butcher" in the lingo of the local townsfolk. His father Isidor, respected resident of the town, sent him away to learn medicine abroad, but after ten years, Artemiy receives a letter calling him back. In it, Isidor warns of his impending death, and asks Artemiy to return to take up his family heritage. Burakh arrives by train in the morning, and is immediately attacked by a group of townspeople, whom he defends himself against. Unfortunately, he has been mistaken for a murderer, and his act of self-defense doesn't help his case.

So you start, at the railroad, with critical health and reputation, and hunger and exhaustion not far behind. After talking to a couple helpful Beaks by the tracks, I stumbled upon Notkin's den. Notkin, a child, seems to be the leader of one of the two child gangs in town - the "dualsouls", I believe. I suspect the other gang is the "dogheads", whose leader is surely Kahn, based on what I've seen in the Bachelor's scenario.

Lucky for me, the kids in town don't suspect me, even though everyone else is out for my blood. Turns out I've arrived on the cusp of a tragedy, involving the deaths of the town head Simon Kain as well as my father, Isidor Burakh. Somebody spread a rumor that the killer (a "Ripper") was gonna try to leave by train, so I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Since I'm an outsider with an odd appearance, and nobody remembers me as Isidor's son (I guess I was pretty young when I left town), I am an easy target for their frustrated suspicions. And so my first day's main task was restoring my reputation.

Notkin informed me of a traitor who had stolen some goods from his gang, including some Powder. I tracked him down beyond the factories, but, in spite of Notkin's bloodthirst, I spared his life. This helped my reputation on multiple accounts. I met Gryph, leader of the thieves, also wholed up in the warehouses, though in a differenct section than Notkin and his hideout. And I visited Laska at the cemetery, where one of my attackers lay dying, on the brink of death. But instead of finishing him off, I agreed to help him, further boosting my reputation. In order to do so, I had to perform a blood transfusion with the help of the Hump-man.

(I wonder, if this is the same man who turned up dead on Anna Angel's doorstep, in the Bachelor's scenario, for which I had to bribe the diggers at the cemetery to bury...)

Meanwhile, I got in contact with the Olgimskiys, who are all on my side, being friends of my father's. The daughter, Kapella, who is well known and liked among the children of the town, informed me of the identities of my adherents - the aforementioned children, including herself.

I met the Bachelor in the evening, over at Eve's house, and to my relief, his earlier bloodthirst (I heard he had come to Gryph and to Notkin, looking for me) turned to wary friendship, as he assured me that he had discovered the cause of Simon's death was a disease, and not a murderer. And so my reputation is restored.

Visiting my father's house, it is locked and guarded. We shall see if I can manage to get inside tonight...

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