We don’t like to teach. We are more interested in asking questions than offering answers.

For us, the game is a dialogue between the creators and the player, and the player is a co-author

Our job is to mark the field for action, change the laws of the world, formalize the problem and find the nerve of contact with reality outside the window. The player’s job is to complete what we started and offer his own unique interpretation.

Ice-pick lodge

No matter what anyone said about Ice-Pick Lodge, their games are amazing. I sincerely admire the work of Nikolai Dybowski and his team. Unique, unlike anything else, projects that immerse you in the depths of philosophy and madness. Mor is a titanic work. Only for the script of Haruspicus the volume of the text was written, comparable to the two volumes of “War and Peace”. For me, this is an interesting project that is incredibly interesting to study.

It is a well-known fact that initially Nikolai Dybowski wanted to realize a theatrical production, but over time he changed his mind and directed his efforts towards creating a video game. Pestilence can be disassembled into components typical of theatrical drama: theme, idea, super task, cross-cutting action, counter-action, conflict, sequence of events, proposed circumstances, atmosphere. Therefore, today I will use the analysis, which I partially use when parsing works in pairs.


Probably one of the main topics that comes up in the game is the problem of society. It is relevant not only for the modern, but also for earlier stages of society. In fact, in the Mora, we have two societies: the urban population and the steppe people, called the Uklad. On the contrast of these two groups, the conflict is built. It can be seen with the naked eye that the townspeople, for the most part, are progressive society, while the steppe people are clearly conservative.Ice-Pick Lodge has found many solutions to reflect this to the fullest: differences in architecture, in thinking, in colors and philosophy are what makes up the palette of differences. It is worth starting at least with the most significant architectural structures of these “factions”. For the townspeople, this is the Polyhedron, and for the Settlement it is the Slaughterhouses, or, as they themselves call them, Olongo. These are completely two antonymic phenomena. The polyhedron is a light building that rushes to the heavens. From the point of view of architecture and physics, the fact of the existence of this structure is impossible, it breaks all the laws that were spelled out before. The polyhedron is a step into the future, a step through Gorkhon for this city.

Another symbol of progress is that children have chosen it. A huge amount of playing time has been devoted to the future foundation of society, my reasoning will touch upon them more than once throughout this article, but for now it is worth taking into account only that in the context of play, and life in general, children are our future. In parallel with this, the Slaughterhouses, on the contrary, go as deep as possible into the ground. Outside, they are gray and inconspicuous, against their background even factories will seem a picturesque phenomenon, but everything gets even worse when we get inside: the darkness and atmosphere of hellish slaughterhouses hangs in the air in a thicker mass than steppe twirin. Bloody rivers and bare rock teeth form bizarre canals. They are inhabited by herbal brides and representatives of another race called the Worms. They literally came from the earth, a local deity called Mother Bodho, blinded them from bones and soil. Representatives of the structure – the khatange, together with the Slaughterhouses, personify the unwillingness to go forward. Naturally, it is possible and, most likely, even necessary to draw parallels between religion and progress. The way of life is presented as a strongly believing society, while the townspeople strive more for technical progress.


They can also be compared from another point of view, which will lead us to another topic – ecology. Indeed, it would be strange if the game, in which the earth and its influence on humans, did not surface environmental problems. Here we have pollution of Gorokhon with garbage from Boyen, as a result of which the locals call the river “dead”, there are metaphors that if society loses its connection with the land, it will die, and that people die because they are angry the land, and those who shore it, that is, the way, are not taken by the Sand Plague. In this example, the local plague can be compared with global cataclysms (only on a smaller scale), people must be defeated in order to be reborn and start living anew.

Live? Everything would be too simple if the game did not literally bury you in the philosophy of life and death. Literally every hour, new and new philosophical logs are thrown into your furnace of consciousness, and when the logs run out, Dybowski takes out coal and stuffs you again. At some point, my roof began to melt so much that I interpreted jumping tarbagans (local rodents) as a person’s mental throwing and search for their place in life. My knowledge of philosophy ends with a few books I read and one course in college, so it’s difficult for me to give an accurate assessment of what the Ice-Pick Lodge team wanted to convey, however, even a cursory glance is enough to appreciate how vast this layer is for thought. Everything breathes life in the game: the earth is alive, the plague is alive, the dead are alive, even the city itself is built as if it were a living organism, with streets, vessels and areas named as anatomical organs. The apogee is that death is also a kind of interpretation of life.


By the way, what is death for the game world? The lion’s share of the dialogues on this topic falls on Mark Bessmertnik. Mark is the director of the plague and the weaver of the fate of the main characters, he is a very important character for the game and this article. For him, the city behind the doors of the theater is the same stage, which is illuminated by spotlights, and the most interesting part of the production takes place just in the city streets, and in the houses on them. In his hands, death is only an instrument that his actors must skillfully wield. According to him, it is important to overcome death, because only in this way a person will achieve a kind of catharsis.


I cannot trace the direction of philosophy that the game adheres to, so it would be reasonable to say that it is eclectic, but several schools can still be distinguished. So, for example, the trend of fatalism is clearly traced. Since Mor is a global theatrical production, it follows a script. Clearly written actions, going one after another. One of the questions the heroes ask is: is there any improvisation in our life, or is it also spelled out in the script?

One of the most recognizable symbols of the game is the Tragic and his mask. For me, this is one (one) of the most interesting and meaningful characters. Acting as some guides and mentors of the player in the early stages, they personify past gaming experiences. In this phase, the tragedians call themselves Prompter. In the future, after the player has studied the basic game aspects, they will be referred to simply as Shadow. With their help, we will find out what the heroes of the production think about,

… Experts can correct, however, the ideas of idealism and Plato’s ontology are traced here. After the death of a person, an idea remains from him. The idea is impersonal, and people are just its carriers.

Who, then, is the Rat Prophet? A mysterious anthropomorphic creature that appears several times throughout the game? He, like Mark Bessmertnik and Fellow traveler, understands that everything that happens around is a theatrical performance, he can predict the future and change the color of tarbagans. I would call him Mark the Immortelle from the world of the Order. The Prophet is clearly aggressive against people.

In the theater of life, the only real spectators are children.

As for me, this quote from VladislavGrzheshik best describes the role of children in play. At a time when adults rush back and forth, trying to save what remains of the Order or the city, children are given a unique opportunity to decide their future fate. No wonder IsidorBurakh asked his son to take care of them, because the more children survive, the more chances that a bright future awaits us. The plague is more forgiving to them, they are protected by a magical polyhedron, and if you ask well, they can get you a wonderful powder that can heal you from the plague. Among them there are already clear leaders, like Khan and Notkin, and there are their own miracle workers, like Capella and Laska. If all the characters in the puppet game are in the hands of fate, then it is understandable why children bury the doll at the very beginning of the game.


In the Sea, all aspects are surprisingly connected, one inextricably follows from the other. I would compare it to the circulatory system of the bull in this image.

But one of the main themes of the game is the lines. According to the beliefs of the local people, everything in this world is connected, and we, as the main character, who is Ashman (who knows the line-doctor), are obliged to understand this. Sometimes the connections are very clear: if the earth is drunk with blood, then it will bear fruit, but sometimes everything comes to the surreal absurdity.

However, all the above processes are TEMPORARY. Time is the ultimate theme for almost all games in the studio. In Tuk-Tuk-Tuk, we had to survive while waiting for dawn. How much time you spent in the dimension directly depends on what kind of ending awaits you. In Turgor, time sucked the color out of us, second by second bringing us closer to falling into eternal death. Who would doubt that time also plays a huge role in the Sea. Even one of the main buildings in the city – the cathedral – has nothing to do with religion, but serves only to keep time. Time has its own special course inside it. In many ways, the timing, as one of the foundations of game mechanics, is due to the desire of the Ice Axes to place the player in the most uncomfortable environment so that he does not have the opportunity to rest.


I have highlighted only a drop of what can be discussed regarding this game (everyone in the comments). And I, in turn, would like by the time the two remaining scenarios come out, to learn philosophy and go through the original game in order to conduct a large-scale analysis of the game in the future, comparing it with books, be it Camus’s Plague or Thomas More’s Utopia … Hopefully, over time, my fuse won’t disappear. Many thanks to everyone who read it. Well, I’ll go and get acquainted with Turgor.



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