About this project
Pathologic is a plot-driven survival open-world adventure game for PC/MAC/Linux, PS4, and Xbox One.
You can find the Russian version of the pitch here.
Прочитать русский вариант этого текста можно здесь.
We have reached our funding goal already, but the road ahead of us is still long! There are several stretch goals that would make Pathologic an even more fulfilling experience if achieved. They are listed below. If you want to learn about the game, please scroll down to the original pitch.
As is stated in “Risks and Challenges” below, we do have investments that would allow us to make Pathologic in any case, and this whole Kickstarter is like a huge stretch goal for us. The money we ask for is what we need to create a perfect game. We don’t want to add superfluous entities on top. Still, we do have more ideas that we believe will fit Pathologic. These are things we really want to make, but they would require a bigger team (or postponing the release, which is something we’d like to avoid). If we get more funding, they will become possible by the planned release date, though.
Here are our stretch goals:
ACHIEVED The Town Extended ($300,000). This stretch goal seems pretty self-explanatory, and yet it’s the toughest one to explain. We’ve launched this whole campaign to make an extended version of the game after all, didn’t we? Thing is, it’s always possible to add more. More unique objects, more dialogue options, more questlines, more events happening around you. And it won’t be filler content either. Say, there are plot-dependent areas planned in the warehouse district; but what if you could also find caches and hideouts there? What if street NPCs had additional reactions to your activities? What if there were simply more questlines? You would become even more hard-pressed for time, sure, but we’ll balance it. The Town is a finished place, but we can always improve it intensively, adding more small locations, hidden corners, nooks and crannies. Also: more quests, more NPCs—more content in general.
The Steppe Extended ($350,000). The Steppe is rather poor in terms of content right now, and that makes sense, since the plot of Pathologic takes place mostly in a single location, the characters being unable to leave The Town. While we don’t intend to change that, we can sneak in some loopholes, inviting the characters to explore new and fresh locations in the steppe (close to The Town, of course). It can even lead to them having new activities there. That also obviously means more quests, more steppe NPCs, more weird creatures, and generally more steppiness.
Lucid Dreaming ($400,000). Thoughts and ideas are an important part of Pathologic, and it’s known that the Plague “speaks to its victims, scrutinizing them”. We would like that to become an even more prevalent motif, adding dreams in form of interactive experiences. Got infected? Go see the Plague in person. Found out new crucial information that completely changes everything? Same here. All those hints and omens dropped and mentioned everywhere will now appear in the flesh. Also more weird and creepy imagery. And these are not random events—they will depend on how you play and how the plot you create unfolds.
Termitary and Abattoir ($450,000). The original Pathologic only showed you a chart of these behemoth constructions rather than their real innards. The poor interiors did nothing to reflect their grandeur. We’ll change that in the remake anyway, sure, but reaching this stretch goal would allow us to make a full-fledged ethnographic expedition into The Termitary and The Abattoir. You’ll be able to see the daily life, the traditions, and the culture of a very peculiar working community of steppe butchers that live inside and retain multiple traits of a primitive society. It’s “a town inside The Town”, and it’ll contain loads of new content, quests, and experiences.
A Small Prequel ($550,000). Pathologic is plot-heavy, and a lot of important stuff happens right before the start of the game. As a player, you’ll uncover the partial truth behind the events that have shaped the current state of The Town, but you’ll never be able to see the perfect and complete picture. You’ll never be able to see them at all—only speculate. Simply showing these events would be a spoiler, but we’re keen on making an additional day-long story with unique content. It won’t be Kickstarter-exclusive. Please keep in mind that it won’t feature the same playable characters. The whole point of the prequel is to show you the things that the main trio would never be able to see and learn. But you will.
A mysterious and deadly disease breaks out in a remote town built upon old tanneries and butcheries. Whilst the disease can be identified by physical symptoms, its roots and origins remain mysterious. The disease is highly infectious and deadly. It affects the neural and the blood-circulating systems, crippling both body and mind.
To fight the epidemic the local authorities first send a learned doctor, then an inquisitor ordered to assess the situation, then a military commander. The first has to investigate the disease and find an optimal solution; the second has to save as many lives as possible while executing said solution; the third has the right to exterminate the whole Town should the others run out of options.
Along with the authorities’ agents two volunteers find their way through the Town along with the learned doctor, who goes by the name of The Bachelor. One of them, The Changeling, is a strange girl who believes she can heal with her hands, and the other, The Haruspex, is a talented amateur who’s fond of experimental surgery.
Taking on the role of one of these doctors, you’ll explore the town, its weird traditions, and the complex relationships of its inhabitants. You will only have twelve days to defeat the invisible enemy called the Sand Plague.
Time will become one of your most precious resources. Choices will haunt your every step. You’ll want to get closer to your goal, but sometimes it’ll all come down to mere survival. In a time when everyone is in danger, would you lend a gun to a person who may use it with ill intent? Would you try to save someone who claims they don’t need to be saved? Would you share your medicine with important figures who will unveil the Town’s numerous secrets in return, or would you rather help an ordinary stranger in need? Or maybe even selfishly keep the pills in case you get sick? And sooner or later you will—Pathologic is a bleak and harsh survival adventure that’ll make sure of it.
It’s a place where the main factory is ruled by a five-year-old girl, where districts are named after body parts, where bulls can only be slaughtered by the initiated, and where ideas and projects banned from the Capital somehow thrive.
But we’re not just building a body—a physical place. We want to make an immersive town that feels alive, yes, but our main goal is to create a town filled with ideas. We want to make you feel that every nook and cranny is worth investigating, that it’s there for a reason.
The town is remote and thus relatively small, but it’s also very dense, open for exploration. Every second building has a name, every district is there for a reason, every street is a thread in the story. It’s a steppe town formed around a behemoth slaughterhouse, but paradoxically the locals worship bulls. A huge construction defying the laws of physics, called The Polyhedron, lies to the west. The air is thick, and for some reason there is a sacrificial site right inside the town. It’s hard to understand how it all holds together.
Which is why you’ll have to become a kind of sleuth. Why is it forbidden to dig wells here? How on earth does The Polyhedron not fall? Do actors in the Theatre really perform even when there’s no audience to watch their plays? We want to make each step you make intriguing and meaningful.
And speaking about time!
The plot of Pathologic is broken down into twelve days, each of them carrying new stories, quests, and events. Time flows mercilessly: if you fail to finish a task when it’s due, the opportunity is lost—as are human lives. You are completely free to roam and explore the Town, bartering, talking to strangers and generally surviving (which is hard enough to begin with and becomes harder and harder as time goes by and the Sand Plague becomes more and more deadly).
You’ll have to keep your body healthy. The hero needs to eat and sleep, to take care of their immune system—it’s the only thing that can preserve them from being infected with the Plague. To do all that, you’ll need resources (fresh water, bandages, bullets; even bread and coffee beans!), and procuring them in the Town torn apart by the epidemic is not an easy task: inflation and panic will try to strip you naked, making merchants greedy and townsfolk suspicious. You’ll have to be creative while bartering, try to avoid fights, even scavenge infected houses, and you’ll still feel hard-pressed for stuff.
After the district is ravaged by the disease, muggers and looters find their way there. They are searching for food, weapons, perhaps even clothing—in other words, for resources you desperately need to survive (or are you perhaps a marauder yourself?). And the Plague hides everywhere—in every man and woman, in every object—waiting to strike where it hurts most.
So you, one of the best doctors in the Town, will inevitably get sick. Sickness doesn’t necessarily mean imminent death though. You can fight the disease in your own body… but infection makes you a threat—a vector, albeit an unwilling one. You will find yourself killing the Town with your very hands while trying to save it. It will take all you’ve got to bring more good than harm, and there’s a good chance you’ll do that not by providing medicine and pills, but by thinking outside of the box and uncovering the Town’s numerous mysteries.
But it’ll be worth it, because the Town will be yours. You will be there, and every minute detail, plot-defined or AI-generated, will matter.
A handy list of what to expect of Pathologic for those who want definitive descriptions, not some babbling about towns, entities, and invisible enemies.
Fight the disease. Do you think doctors are only there to ease pain? What if it means you have to cut out someone’s heart in order to produce the medicine? Your instruments are crude, and you’ll have to fight the Plague on many levels. Searching for its roots to help the Town is your main goal, but the Plague is also right here, in the streets, in your own body. It’s great to finish a quest and come one step closer to your goal, but it won’t matter if you’re dying.
The epidemic is realistically simulated, which means that it’ll unfold in real time, affecting both the gameplay mechanics and the plot. Do you need to cut corners in a hurry, or perhaps you have to find someone? Tough luck—if the district you need is infected, it’ll become a danger zone. Shops will close, houses will lock down, and the air itself will become poisonous. But you may not have another option.
Survival. You’ll find no zombies here—it’s the real deal. Hunger, thirst, fatigue, immune resistance, and reputation are all gameplay mechanics, but you’ll also find out that sometimes your affection towards certain characters or your weariness can’t be expressed in numbers. Your enemy is relentless and heartless. Ask yourself: does survival only mean preservation of the body?
Scavenge, gather, trade. You’ll always be hard pressed for resources, money not excluded. But money can’t save your life—you can’t eat it, you can’t heal with it, and at some point you may find out that money is worthless. So you’ll barter with townsfolk, and that’ll keep you afloat… if you’re fine with taking bullets from kids and trading your only gun for a loaf of bread.
Fights are both simple and hard. You’ll find threats here and there: the bandits at night, the marauders, the sick insane with pain, and simply those who don’t like you. Pathologic is not a shooter—it doesn’t take many bullets to kill someone. But you may only have one left, or your gun may misfire, or perhaps you simply won’t like killing innocent victims. Running or hiding is generally preferable, but you can’t run forever.
Explore both the town and the characters. In Pathologic nothing is accidental — every place and every person has a story to tell. You are free to go anywhere, knock on any door and enter any house while making your own story, but remember that no one and nothing will wait for you to finish your business.
The town is living and breathing. The weather and the time of day are not the only things that keeps changing: the prices rise and fall depending on the situation, and various events happen in the streets—everything realized in full immersive 3D. People will die, meet one another, perform rituals, and generally live. Sometimes you’ll be there to intervene. Sometimes you won’t.
Time is always running, and for the most part it’s running out. There are so many things to do in the Town… which means you’ll have to choose. You can still pause the game and save whenever you want if needed, but while playing you’ll have to remember to manage the most precious of resources—the one you can’t buy or barter for.
Three playable characters with different storylines. Pathologic isn’t your generic “choose the race and get called differently” game. The Bachelor’s, The Haruspex’s and The Changeling’s storylines contain different quests and events. Each of them will lead you to an answer—but you’ll also find out that it’s just a fraction of the whole truth, a single person’s perspective.
Choices matter. Once again, it works on many levels. Do you finish a sidequest risking to die tomorrow, or do you let it go? Whom do you save, a man of noble intentions that have backfired or his less-than-honorable father who is innocent in this particular case? Do you try to keep your cool, or do your emotions get the better of you?
Pathologic is a big game. The full walkthrough with three characters will take you up to 72 hours. And it’s not grinding: each in-game day you’ll face new quests, new events, new plotlines, and new circumstances.
We have a huge picture listing all rewards you can get, but we've moved it to a different location so that it doesn't clutter the pitch. You're welcome to look through the pledges and rewards to the right of the pitch or here.
While most pledge rewards are pretty self-explanatory, we feel the need to elaborate what tabletop Pathologic is a bit further.
Tabletop Pathologic is an asymmetrical stealth action game intended for 2–4 players. Three of them become doctors trying to save the Town, while the fourth takes on the role of the Sand Plague. In order to complete missions the doctors have to risk themselves and their Entwined companions, but it’s their only chance to win. The Plague remains unseen until it decides to strike—and then it strikes mercilessly.
Tabletop Pathologic is designed after Pathologic the videogame and strives to keep what made its predecessor special: the atmosphere a town in agony, the feeling of doom and the desperate hope of those who have nothing else left. It’s precisely this hope that makes the three doctors pursuing the same goal become rivals. There’s only one winner in the game, so contesting other players is unavoidable.
The Tragedian and The Executor
...are these guys:
They are your everpresent companions who guide you through the game—or perhaps deceive you; whatever the case, they are definitely following your progress very closely. The Tragedian is a platzhalter hero, a shade of what could have been were it not for you; like all mimes, he’s gently compassionate and moderately useless. The Executor is a plaguebringer; if you see him, it means you’ve failed to save someone, yet he also seems to care for you in his own fashion.It’s hard to say how many tragedians and executors there are in the Town and if The Tragedian and The Executor appearing here and there are the same two guys or not. They wear masks, after all. You can try to get into their heads by getting these masks through pledging, and The Tragedian’s mask is also available as an add-on.
You may well have, since what we’re doing now is a remake. Pathologic was first released in 2005 to a critical acclaim in Russia, and it does have an international fanbase.
So what exactly are we planning to do? We will keep the following untouched:
- the atmosphere;
- the setting;
the ideas that lie in the very core of the game;
- the general storyline;
- the characters;
- the map, the general feel and the concept of the Town; it’s already an existing place for us, so we won’t change it, but rather add more detail to it.
- There’ll be new quests, events, and plotlines, and some filler quests that were added for the sake of adding something will be rid of.
- Graphics will be much better. We’ll do everything we can so that the game looks adequate even ten years from now.
- Gameplay will be way more balanced. We’re not talking about making it simpler and survival easier, mind you; but fights used to be annoying rather than tense and emotional, scavenging was very rudimentary, and the economy of a plagued town was hardly a system at all. We plan to change all that, making all these mechanics robust. That doesn’t mean the game’ll become a breeze, it just means we’ll replace artificial challenges with real ones.
- Street NPCs will have advanced AIs that’ll make them feel way more alive. Once again, we’re not abandoning the concept of them being “extras” in this play, we just want those extras to perform better.
- We’ll also add realistic behavior patterns to the disease.
Localization will be done internally or with the help of trusted outsourcers who are not only native speakers, but also talented writers. We understand that Pathologic is extremely hard to translate, so—once again—we won’t try to do it directly, but rather reconstruct the game in different languages.
Ice-Pick Lodge is a Russian game development studio founded in 2002. So far we’ve released four games: Pathologic (2005), The Void (2009), Cargo! A Quest for Gravity (2011), and Knock-Knock (2013). We wouldn’t go as far as call ourselves artists, but our general philosophy is that games should give players food for thought, not just fun.
We’ve been making survival games before it was mainstream. Pathologic (2005) was novel for its time. We’re glad that gaming has embraced survival—a genre that allows us to put the player in a really uncomfortable situation, not hold their hand on a walk through a theme park.
So now we want to help the gaming industry make the next step, fully exploring the potential of survival.
Wait, haven’t I seen you before?
Our latest game, Knock-Knock, was funded via Kickstarter. The campaign was successful, and we’re eternally grateful to the backer community for their help in releasing this game.
We’ve made mistakes during the Knock-Knock campaign. It was a peculiar project; we’ve tried to intrigue our backers, but have overdone mysteriousness in the end. Communication should’ve been more frequent and have more substance; we definitely should’ve hit the deadline. It was our first experience with crowdfunding, and we’ve learned a lot. Now we’re ready for a more mature campaign with Kickstarter as one of our main outlets for communication.
Updates are going to be frequent and hopefully engaging.
What we want to make is a unique game, but the uniqueness of Pathologic lies in the ideas that permeate its fabric, not in its genre or setting (though we like to think that they’re pretty unusual too). We also hope that it’s a valuable experience. In Pathologic it’s the player, not just the character, who explores the nature of miracles, stands up to a real evil, and finds the ultimate truth.
Risks and challenges
The traditional risks of game development are: going over budget, failure to meet the deadlines and failure to overcome technical and creative challenges that the process poses. When a project gets crowdfunded, the flexibility (and possible lack) of funds becomes an additional challenge: you never know how much money you’ll manage to collect and if you collect them at all.
The good thing is we’re more or less protected from most of these risks. We do have investments that would allow us to make Pathologic regardless of whether our Kickstarter campaign is successful, and we do have a roadmap. We are planning to make this game no matter what, and we already have the funds to do it. That would be a simpler, humbler version of the game though, and we really want it to be more detailed.
It’s not a cosmetic issue either. We don’t just want more polygons, more trees, and more character models. The world of Pathologic is crafted so that every detail is meaningful and adds to the story, the mood, and the atmosphere (a Town of ideas, remember?). Any additional funds will add complexity, beauty, and new layers of meaning.
That’s where real risks and challenges come in though. In Pathologic nothing is simple, and there’s always a risk of us failing the creative challenge. Game development is an iterative process that demands exploration; you never know when a new idea comes to you, so while we’ve tried to set realistic deadlines, some delays are still possible. We’ll do our best to mitigate them though by sticking to our roadmap, but most importantly, we’ll keep you in the loop and maintain communication so that you know how things are going.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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