The Plague Doctor of Wippra by Electrocosmos
Thanks to ongoing world events, stories of plagues and disease have found new life. Lately, many people prefer to use video games as an escape from present-day troubles, and who can blame them? However, it’s important to remember that fiction can be a powerful tool for both catharsis, and, more importantly, for learning.
So it is that we get games like The Plague Doctor of Wippra, which tells a story set in the past that resonates well into the present.
The Shaping Sickness
Oswald Keller is a newly-arrived physician to the town of Wippra, Germany in the early 1500s. As the bubonic plague rages through the streets, he’s tasked not only with doing what he can to assist patients but also with navigating the delicate social structure of the time. He’ll need all the help he can get.
The Plague Doctor of Wippra plays like a classic point-and-click adventure game. Through a combination of dialogue and item collection, you guide Oswald through his duties. There are salves to mix, patients to visit, and even surgery to perform. This is mainly accomplished via simple item combinations, which should feel familiar to genre veterans but also be accessible for newbies. If you were interested in the themes of Pathologic 2 but were put off by the difficulty, this may be more your speed.
The gameplay is solid if unoriginal, but the true star of the show is its dialogue and story. Oswald and the people he interacts with feel believable for the period, and the game does a good job of centering the player in its world. This is slightly marred by some uneven translation, but the dialogue remains interesting throughout. Combined with the fact that certain choices can change parts of the story, and there’s plenty to keep your brain occupied.
Despite a relatively short runtime of just over an hour, the story packs quite a bit in. It touches on a number of heavy themes like religious persecution, racism, and mob mentality, and does so with appropriate gravity. This is in addition to a genuinely fascinating historical look at the role of a physician in the 1500s, including period-appropriate remedies and tools. Add in the game’s charming retro graphics and sound, and it’s hard not to get sucked in.
The Plague Doctor of Wippra isn’t perfect, and its brevity may be a turn-off for some. However, the story it offers is genuinely compelling and worth your time. It’s a reflection on how far humanity has come in the last 500 years. And, more importantly, it’s also a reminder that there’s still plenty of work to be done.
The Plague Doctor of Wippra is available via GOG and Steam.
Watch the trailer for The Plague Doctor of Wippra below: