1953: KGB Unleashed

PHOBOS: 1953

Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Phantomery Interactive

Publisher:  Ikaron

Released:  July 2012

PC Requirements:  

  • WIN XP/Vista/7
  • Pentium 4 1,5 GHz
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 1,5 GB hard disk space
  • DirectX 9.0c compatible 3D graphic card with 128 MB   and Shader 2.0 support
  • DVDROM drive

Additional screenshots




by flotsam


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 it.

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 else.

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 rushed dud.

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 can be purchased via download from The Adventure Shop or Gamers Gate.

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