Being a doctor in olden times wasn’t an easy task. With no antiseptics, antibiotics, or anesthesia, caring for patients even now wouldn’t be an easy task. You can throw on top of that constant plagues and, oh yeah, replace all modern medical knowledge with cures such as peeing into someone’s ear to relieve their earache. The only thing worse than being an ancient doctor is needing an ancient doctor. Die-Agnosis puts you in the shoes of one of these thoroughly misguided doctors, just doing their best to help the ill.
Die-Agnosis was created for Ludum Dare 36 and its theme of ancient technology—a theme it gleefully delivers on. Although such a short game couldn’t possibly capture the wide variety of bizarreness in ancient medicine, it does give a wonderful snapshot. “My sore is oozing,” complains your patient, so you supply some urine. “Aaah!” cries your patient, gesturing to their fractured bone, which you fix with mercury (somehow). Other ailments may require a more delicate touch—like a hole drilled into the head, or a sawed off limb. If all else fails, you can give them opium, which will at least make them unaware of whatever problem they have.
Die-Agnosis is delightfully grim. From the sickly green light of the home you work in, to the maggots worming in your patient’s skin, Die-Agnosis captures a time and profession that was dark and grotesque. Sometimes the game isn’t responsive to treatments, and it’s not clear if this is because it was the wrong treatment, or if it’s the game glitching. But, in truth, this only feels more realistic.
Did the leeches work? Who knows, let’s try some brain salt! Although we may smirk at the dark humor of rubbing dung over oneself to fix a rash, we also should thank our lucky stars to live in an era with dermatologists. The creators of the game, We Fiends, nail black humor on the head, but if you’ve got issues with body horror, you might want to stay away from this one.