Pathologic Classic HD – Review
Follow Genre: First-person survival psychological horror
Developer: Ice-Pick Games, General Arcade
Publisher: Gambitious Digital Entertainment
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Pathologic Classic HD – Review

Site Score
Good: Open world, mind-bending story
Bad: Outdated graphics, heavily-text based
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(1 votes)
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Russian cult classic Pathologic has received a massive update since its original publishing in 2005. Players of the previous title might fondly remember the terrible English translation and the masses of bugs, but for those that didn’t- fear not! Times have certainly changed. Let us dive into the remaster, called Pathologic Classic HD, from the combined brainpower of the original developer Ice-Pick Lodge and new developer General Arcade.



A small settlement, plagued by a lethal disease, has found that prayers and science cannot bring them to salvation. Instead, they turn to outsiders, in hope that they might find a cure, or simply just an explanation for this invisible plague. The first of which is an investigator and doctor, looking for a man who apparently has the key to immortality; the second, a Ripper who has traded in his abilities for a more reputable living as a surgeon, come to search for clues about his father’s awful heritage; and the third, a strange girl who appears to have mystical healing abilities, could be the town’s redemption- if only she could get over her own memories of the recent past.

The story in Pathologic Classic HD is something that has many chin-scratching moments, but will keep you entertained for sure. In places, it’s so meta that you just have to sit back and revel at it, whilst hoping it doesn’t hurt your brain too much. It’s also based almost entirely in text with a bit of narration thrown in at the start, which could be annoying for those who like to be shown the story rather than having it explicitly told through writing.

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If there’s anything that is mildly disappointing about Pathologic Classic HD is the expectation set by the title. Despite being made with the Unity engine, it looks far from it; instead, it simply appears that an HD filter has been slapped on top. The character models are essentially the same (and as creepy looking) as they were in the previous title, so the game itself feels outdated for a remaster, and the character movement is also still rather jerky. However, there has been a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a full remake of the title, so improvements can be expected for the new version.

On the other hand, although UI for the title is rather simplistic, this actually fits with the premise, considering how the people in the game are having to lead simple lives since their home has been ravaged by a plague. One thing that really looks good are the little sketches that appear on the exposition at the start of the title, which add a whole new dimension of weirdness and eeriness to our story.

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Pathologic Classic HD undoubtedly has some rather epic music under its belt at times, especially if you like kooky tunes that sometimes make your blood run cold. The title music feels like something out of Phantom of the Opera, with its operatic quality and choral voices running underneath, but also has some more modern elements so it doesn’t just sound like some hammy horror game soundtrack. Another notable track is the theme that indicates conflict is near- it certainly raised our heartbeat for the most part! By far the most dread-inducing sound, however, is the bell that rings at dawn. If you are of a nervous disposition, you won’t like how its sudden tolling will leave you wishing you were being mauled to death by zombies rather than listening to that.

There are some drawbacks to the sound. Although there is a vast improvement to the original English translation, the voice acting still feels awkward; almost as if the actors haven’t thought properly about how to say their lines. In addition, when you speak to NPCs, they sometimes say some very strange things that don’t relate at all to the written dialogue (upon which this game is mostly based). As a further small part of criticism, it would also be a lot easier if there were more spoken dialogue employed in order to avoid having to read endless boxes of text to find out the lore.

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Pathologic Classic HD is a first-person psychological survival horror game with an open world, in which you have the choice between three different characters- the Bachelor, the Haruspex and the Changeling (although the latter is only available after you’ve completed the story with the other two options). These will take you through different storylines which ultimately converge at later points.

The controls aren’t explained at any point in the game as they would rather you find your own way through, but you can check the settings in the main menu (accessible at any point in game by pressing ESC). As with most games, WASD are the directional keys, E is to interact with objects and people, space to jump, F to use a torch, and left click is to attack, although you generally need a weapon to do this. The title is also compatible with a gamepad. The only tutorial you do get is more in relation to the in-game mechanics, explaining how you need to maintain reputation, and look after bodily functions. These options make the game more challenging than the average horror game, though do get a little annoying when you can’t find the resources to heal your wounds, or even simply eat.

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You get 12 in-game days in the town to discover the various events that happen around this plague-ridden place. It is completely quest-based, although whether you complete the tasks you start or not, at the end of the day they are erased to make room for new ones. The quests are unfortunately part of the gameplay that makes everything seem rather slow, however, as you have to speak to everyone to find out what’s going on. Combat is also few and far between, unless you play as the Haruspex- when it can actually get a little overwhelming. That having been said, the content of the various boxes of text is unquestionably thought-provoking, and forces you to make choices in order to survive- be that stealing off someone who needs what you’ve taken to survive. It’s definitely a very interesting title if you enjoy being made to think about the consequences of your actions.

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It might seem quite old hat nowadays, but it’s easy to see why Pathologic gained its cult classic status. From really deep commentary about actors and plays, to the crazy decisions that you need to make in order to survive, it’s definitely something to play to have your morals questioned. It’s a real shame though that the graphics aren’t up to scratch, but as aforementioned, it should be improved in the actual remake. Equally, if you don’t really like reading lots of text, and would rather be shown the lore, this title is probably not for you.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Pathologic Classic HD - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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