The people behind cult horror game Pathologic have released a free teaser demo for the full-blown re-imagining.
UPDATE 22ND OCTOBER: A release date has been set: 29th October. There's a 25 per cent discount for pre-ordering on Steam between now and then. The game will also be available for pre-order on GOG and the Humble Store. Not sure if the discount applies there too.
ORIGINAL STORY 7TH OCTOBER: In 2006 a horror game called Pathologic divided us, for it was "fascinating" but at the same time "very broken". Our reviewer John Walker (now of Rock, Paper, Shotgun) absolutely couldn't recommend it at £25, but at the same time couldn't praise it enough. "It's probably the most interesting and brilliant 6 out of 10 game you'll find," he eventually concluded.
But at some point this autumn some of those wrongs are being put right in a new Pathologic Classic HD remaster on PC. To be clear: this is not the successfully Kickstarted remake but an enhanced version of the original.
Several months ago, I buried John Romero. I dug a little hole for him in the garden, covered it with dirt, and said a few poignant words over the spiteful-but-soothing strains of Paul McCartney's Too Many People. It was an emotional moment for me, because I really loved the guy. We'd had some great times together: the time, for instance, that his home was destroyed and we went out to get a new one. Or the time he chased his girlfriend around for over an hour, before finally taking a nap in the miniature Taj Mahal nearby. Mostly, though, I just remember him pressing his face up to the water jet, his jet-black, silky, slimy mane billowing out like a raven's wing. He was a spectacular goldfish.
Nearly three years after its UK release, I'm still trying to get my head around Pathologic, an obscure genre mashup from weirdest Russia. Every time you think you've grasped it, every time you figure out what's at the heart of the game, it slips away or blurs with another idea. What is this thing I've come to love so dearly?
There's a term currently bandied around in gaming discussion with wilful abandon. "Living city". It's something of a misnomer. If anything, the term is used to describe the most static of towns, where NPCs amble around with no fixed agenda, perhaps occasional unscripted scuffles of no consequence are used as set decoration. These cities aren't living. The reality is, the city only ever lives when you start changing it.
Pathologic offers a dying city. It's Oblivion with cancer. A pustule encrusted town where events carry on regardless of your presence, slowly wasting away despite you. This is a fascinating game. And a very broken one. And as such, I'm in something of a pickle.
Cards on the table: I really don't know what to do. Everyone sensible hates the stupid blue numbers at the bottom of the page, that the awful people skip to before stamping their feet in ill-informed puff-chested fury. This is why. There's no reasonable mark here. If Kieron hadn't already used EG's Joker Card when giving multiple scores to Boiling Point, it would happen now. But he has, so instead it's compromise, and a desperate plea that you bloody well read the following.