Hailing from the
same stable as
Outcry (aka Sublustrum), if you read my review of that
game, you would know that I would have to play this one.
We begin in a somewhat clichéd
environment, one where you “awaken” and don’t know where you are or why.
But it’s clear you have to get out of wherever here is, so best get to
Best hope too that your brain is
along for the ride. As well as your pencil.
Actually, your pencil is not as
essential as it first seems. True, there is a LOT of reading and
thinking about what you read and where it might be useful, but I didn’t
draw anything, and most documents went with me. I like games where you
take the material with you – given that you tend to pick up all manner
of inventory junk, why not pick up all the written stuff as well? Top
left of the screen is your passport, and by the end it will contain
about 30 documents, many of which contain critical clues.
But not every clue. For some
reason, there are a couple of key written items that don’t go with you.
Hence the need for the pencil.
The brain will be far more
useful. This is one of those games where you go everywhere and discover
everything you can and then think about what you know and try and work
out how to make the machine work, or get the ventilation turned on, or
open the secret compartment at the back of the wardrobe.
The game isn’t straightforward,
and I did think at times it was a little “opaque”, but that might have
been me. At times too it was a tad bizarre - the radio puzzle I
understood, but why on earth it did what it did is beyond me. But I like
poking and fiddling and thinking, and there was a fair bit of that here.
Getting the ventilation working was probably the puzzling highlight.
Which is just as well (the “fair
bit of that here” I mean) because otherwise 1953: KGB Unleashed
would have been way too short. It was still only about five hours, and
some of that wasn’t the brain power, but finding the little hotspot that
led to the necessary item. I wouldn’t call it pixel hunting, but a fair
degree of care was needed to search every screen thoroughly.
It’s a solitary game, the only
other “character” apart from you being a voice over a loudspeaker
system. If you like a lot of chat in your game, best you play something
The drab and muted tones are
ideal for the underground facility we find ourselves in, and the
attention to detail is quite good. There is a claustrophobic air about
the goings-on, which suits the unfolding backstory, revealed through the
documents and the triggered black-and-white cutscenes. Some creeping
around in the dark and in dimly lit areas adds to the atmosphere, as
does the red fog that indicates the nasty effects of a nasty gas (note
to self - find an antidote for that).
Given that we are in the USSR in
1953, it would have been nice to have at least an attempt at a Russian
accent. Having said that, no accents are probably better than bad
accents, but I am sure there are plenty of English-speaking Russians who
could have provided the limited number of voices, especially as this
game hails from Russia in the first place.
Game play will be familiar, and
is organised simplicity. Move the cursor to the edge of the screen to
pan through the environment, and the cursor will glow when moved over a
hotspot. Inventory items are at the bottom of the screen, passport is
top left, and the options screen is bottom right. Right click puts it
away. There isn’t a score throughout; ambient sounds provide most of the
noise, but certain scenes have a musical accompaniment.
The end however is a bit of a
Which is a shame, because it’s
that last taste that often determines your final impression. Which is
that I liked 1953: KGB Unleashed because it played to a lot of my
strengths, but I didn’t love it. It isn’t Schizm or RHEM.
But if these types of games are your thing, then there is enough here to
enjoy, albeit briefly and disappointingly at the end.
I played on:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz
Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB
1953: KGB Unleashed