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PAX East: The Tale of the Indie Horror Game

PAX+East+2017
PAX East 2017

The story you want to hear is probably one filled with game demos. Tales of the Nintendo Switch and virtual reality, of meeting famous game designers and getting my hands on some top-rated consoles that aren’t even out in the public market yet.

I’m here to tell you none of these stories. I am here to tell you just one story—the one that made this PAX East an unforgettable experience for me.  I’m going to talk about meeting the creators of Ice-Pick Lodge.

If you’ve spoken to me in person, you’d know that I have a thing for horror games.  The thing is, I love them.  A lot.  I write horror stories, I read horror stories, I play horror video games, and I love every moment of it. Horror is my passion.  And out of all the horror games in the world, I love “Knock-Knock,” an indie horror game that was created a couple of years ago.

Let me tell you a few things about “Knock-Knock.”  It’s not the best game in the world.  The mechanics are a little weird, a large portion of the game play is based on luck, and the sanity meter can lock you out of beating the game if you aren’t careful.  But the qualities it has far outweigh these technical issues.  Atmospherically, it is one of the most terrifying games I’ve ever played.  The story behind the game is weaved into every detail that is put in the house.  The Lodger, the character you play as, has this quirky mumbling voice that just babbles away every time he speaks.  I could go on and on about this game, but let’s save that for a review.

The point is, I love “Knock-Knock,” but unfortunately, it seemed, the game and its producers faded into obscurity.  Or so I thought, until I was at PAX East and glanced down at the list of game producers that would be there.

On the list was none other than “Ice-Pick Lodge.”

I gasped out loud.  I couldn’t believe it.  There was no way.  It couldn’t be the same one.  And as I bee-lined over to their booth, the disbelief grew stronger and stronger.  There was no way.

And then I saw the tent, with the dim lighting and the skull hanging from the front flap.  I saw the team of people who made these games possible—Nikolay Dybowski the producer, and Ivan Slovtsov, the CEO of Ice-Pick Lodge.

I don’t think I stopped smiling for a second as I wandered over, half expecting the booth to disappear.  But it didn’t.  And I entered the tent, wondering at their latest game, “Pathologic: The Marble Nest,” a remake of one of their older games in which you play as the doctor trying to save his town in the midst of an outbreak of the plague.  And then, I met them.

I couldn’t contain my excitement.  I started gushing immediately as Dybowski approached me, talking about how I loved their game “Knock-Knock” so much that it was my favorite horror game, that I loved the story and the imagery and how I wished there was more of an online community to talk to people about it.  I could see the joy in his eyes as I just babbled nonstop about his content.  I was honored to meet him, and I got the sense that he was glad to meet me.

In the end, I tested their upcoming game for about an hour, and went on my way.  I didn’t want to hog the booth forever.  But nothing that day compared to that experience.  Ice-Pick Lodge made the whole trip worth it.
I implore everyone to check out their content!  You can follow their twitter, @IcePickLodge!  From there, you can find the link to the demo for “Pathologic: The Marble Nest!”  It’s shaping up to be an incredible game, with all of the style and atmosphere that I’ve come to love.