Pathologic Features

FeatureCharge That Windmill

Alex Gambotto-Burke stands up for the Romeros, Molyneuxs and Cages of gaming.

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?