Developed by Phantomery Interactive, 1953 – KGB Unleashed is a tense and atmospheric First Person Adventure set deep within the bowels of a Soviet bunker during the Cold War. Players must uncover the dark and horrifc secrets buried within, fighting their own paranoia along the way as well as the possibility of all-too-real terrors within...
User reviews: Mixed (257 reviews)
Release Date: Sep 20, 2013
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Reviews

“Quite absorbing, very atmospheric, interesting puzzles.”
4/5 – http://www.bigredbarrel.com/blog/2012/07/review-1953-kgb-unleashed/

“...definitely recommended to anyone that enjoys Point and Click Adventure games and anyone that's looking for a new atmospheric game to play.”
8/10 – http://calmdowntom.com/2012/07/1953-kgb-unleashed-review/

“I've rarely played an adventure with such an oppressive atmosphere.”
80% – http://www.nextgengamers.net/index.php/tests/845-1953-im-netz-des-kgb

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About This Game

Developed by Phantomery Interactive, 1953 – KGB Unleashed is a tense and atmospheric First Person Adventure set deep within the bowels of a Soviet bunker during the Cold War. Players must uncover the dark and horrifc secrets buried within, fighting their own paranoia along the way as well as the possibility of all-too-real terrors within the bunker. Are the voices emanating from all around you real, or just an hallucination resulting from your isolation? Will you manage to escape into the warm embrace of daylight, or will you be trapped within the foreboding menace of the bunker?

Only in 1953 – KGB Unleashed can the answers be found!

“1953 – KGB Unleashed” is based on real projects conducted by the Ministry of State Security of the USSR (the former KGB). During that time they pushed the limits of human endurance, testing for the possibility of telepathy, as well as researching the psychological impact of fear on the human brain. The photo-realistic visual style of “1953 – KGB Unleashed” recreates the USSR of the fifties: the underground shelter’s interior is constructed using real Soviet military plans, and the materials found there are based on historically valid documents.

Explore a hidden laboratory where such experiments were conducted in order to learn the truth behind the terrifying events that led to the closure of the project and the liquidation of its staff. An atmosphere of isolation and suspense pervades throughout, bringing you face to face with your own fears, while the voice of invisible “observer” broadcasts over the internal communications system. Is this observer a friend, or an enemy? Your exploration of this perfectly-preserved complex may uncover what these experiments unlocked deep within the human psyche — but will you survive these revelations intact?

Features

  • Secret underground areas with special KGB objects
  • Staggering puzzles and many challenging mind game
  • Realistically created 1950’s atmosphere

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows: XP / Vista / 7 / 8
    • Processor: 2,0 Ghz - Pentium® or AMD®
    • Memory: 1024 MB RAM
    • Graphics: Geforce® 6800 / ATI® X1650 (min. MB 256 VRAM)
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Hard Drive: 700 MB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX® compatible soundcard
Helpful customer reviews
8 of 10 people (80%) found this review helpful
7.2 hrs on record
Status: completed (effectively 100% as linear single narrative)

The completion of this game marks the beginning of a new epoch for me. I have had a bit of a magpie instinct over the last couple of years, and have bought almost every bundle and stockpiled my games. Now my library is quite big with the vast majority of games untouched. I have decided to play through all these games and write a review for each, in order to make sure I do not miss any I will be playing them in alphabetical order. I am likely to keep adding bundles and I don't know if I will ever catch up, but it's going to be a lot of fun!

So 1953 - KGB Unleashed, do I recommend it?

It's only just a yes but with a big asterisk which we will now go into.

I personally really enjoyed this game, but I can imagine that it will not be for everyone. This was a game that I wasn't particularly looking forward to when purchasing the bundle. I was expecting it to be a run of the mill great war first person shooter, but initial impressions and cynicism of the gaming industry can be deceiving! Much to my pleasant surprise. The game is actually a lot more like Myst, a modern first person point and click adventure game.

This game reminds me a lot of Myst 5 I think it was. It has the same pre rendered backdrops and the same “spherical” looking system. Your character will walk forward and stop in certain spots and you can look all around him with the mouse including up and down and a full 360 rotation. If you hold down the mouse button it rotates faster which I found myself doing a lot. It's a single click to interact with the world, move or pick things up. Right click opens your inventory which shows all the items your character is holding and gives you access to all the documents you have read.

The puzzles in this game are very strong. I enjoyed them a lot. Most of the puzzles have quite a cryptic solution, but the documents you read contain clues, and they are just the right balance, the puzzles really are some of the very best I've ever seen in an adventure game as the difficulty to satisfaction ration is spot on. This is a game that will make you think. Which I very much enjoy. There is only one puzzle that relies on trial and error which is kinda a negative however the documents make you aware of this.

So why is this game only getting a slight recommendation? Well there are a few reasons. The graphics are fit for purpose but they're not really anything that special, considering they are pre rendered too, although I don't see this as a bad thing. The game has a very eerie and oppressive nature to it, and as such there is a lot of dark rooms with low lighting which makes finding items annoying. Some rooms I had to enter and leave many many times before finding what was actually quite a big item. This is helped somewhat by a cursor that changes when it is moused over something intractable but you do feel that you are back in the old fashioned pixel hunting days. Although this may not be a bad thing, adventure games need a little bit of frustration otherwise they end up far too easy.
Also the amount of reading you have to do is likely to annoy some gamers, but that kind of gamer probably doesn't like adventure games. I am someone who likes flavour text, I read all the books I found on skyrim and I read mmo quests so this didn't phase me.

Is this game art?
The philosophy behind art is a hard one to pin down on, I used to think that if a game makes you think after you have played it then it qualifies. Something mindless and instant gratification doesn't count using this rule, but can you really say space invaders isn't art? Hmm....well this is a discussion for another time. I do think it is an arty game though! It has a very tense atmosphere and it treats you with respect with its puzzle design. The shadowy operations of the bunker and the more philosophical aspects of this game will give you pause for thought and I expect to take the memories of this game with me for quite some time as I reflect on what was quite a detailed storyline.

I can imagine the people who like this game feel the same way as me and the people who dislike it will really hate it. It was a positive experience.

6/10 Slightly above average - It's certainly worth a play if you already have it like I do.
Posted: June 28
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12 of 18 people (67%) found this review helpful
2.1 hrs on record
This is a very short (2-3 hours) point-and-click adventure set in a Soviet bunker. You wake up not knowing how you got there and you try to find your way out through a series of annoying puzzles.

I felt the story had potential although the end was stupid; It felt like they were building up to something cool, something that would've made the game worth it, but they just dropped the ball. It's also pretty annoying how after every cutscene there's about 5-10 seconds of silence where you can't do anything.

There's no way this is worth $10, or even the historical low of $2.50, but if you get it in a bundle and have nothing better to play, then whatever.
Posted: May 26
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12 of 19 people (63%) found this review helpful
1.3 hrs on record
1953 KGB Unleashed is a horror/scary point and click adventure game, the puzzles are hard to follow and the game doesn't show what to do or how to do anything. I ended up having to Youtube tutorials.

The game is quite short, 2-3 hours, the game is definitly not worth its full price of $10. The only time you should even consider getting this game is if it is very cheap, and you have nothing else to do. This game isn't recomended, especially with its high price of $10. 3/10
Posted: April 23
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.5 hrs on record
I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of point-and-click games, but I do enjoy them on occasion. In KGB Unleashed it’s the usual journey of solving various puzzles and figuring out the meaning of various objects in each room. This game features more of the latter rather than the former. More often than not, I struggled to progress due to the obscurity of some elements, and despite the fact that I agree with the logic of each puzzle and the idea behind it, I believe it could have been far better designed. Many elements were misleading, or failed to emphasise the reason for its use. There are several examples I could give, one of which was a simple switch in a safe which gave no indication of what it did, yet it unlocked a door in another corridor that I did not realise until I had backtracked through most of the game to try and discover its purpose. In another part of the game, you have to descend a trap hole and there is a crate in the hole. Your cursor highlights to indicate there is something you need to do with the crate, but while I spent almost 10 minutes trying to open it, turns out it was actually where you had to put the tape recorder. Confusion like this could have been easily avoided by making the object anything other than a crate; a crate I had to break open not two rooms before.

I almost quit outright in frustration upon the first 10 minutes of starting the game. I don’t know if it was just my settings, but the initial two rooms are dark, so you have to strain your eyes to hardly see anything and the incessant alarm tone became annoying and headache inducing very quickly, beating the puzzles to the punch. The game significantly lacks any Russian undertones, with the main character voiced with an English accent. Aside from some radio stations and a few scraps of propaganda, the game could be set in the USA or England and you wouldn’t notice any difference.

The ending became downright bizarre, ending very abruptly with little resolution. In the last area, you find a glass (hopefully) eyeball which you roll under a door. You can then look through the eyeball as if by magic and somehow that opens the door. Now here is a big spoiler for you, but the game stops, tells you that guy who has been talking to you is dead and then shoos you out the exit. The exit, by the way, is a subway tunnel that somehow goes directly into a bathroom and the wall just disappears after you pick up a subway token. It almost seems as though the developers gave up at this point, or just didn’t know how to end the game. It was an abrupt and confusing ending that severely jarred the experience.

Aside from me failing at puzzles, the game also failed on technical levels in many places. It’s very slow to load, which is very unusual for my high-end PC. It could take as long as ten seconds to load one room, yet I can load Fallout New Vegas with 50+ mods faster. It only had to do this once per room though, which reduced the annoyance, but it’s still unusual for a game of this era. I also had trouble with sluggish cutscenes that left me locked in the cutscene long after the dialouge ceased. There was also no option for subtitles, which was a bit problem for me when there was poor audio quality dialogue and I couldn’t understand what was said, making me miss what may have been important plot points.

The game looked decent, and the mood was set as it should have been, but it felt empty and void of any character. With constant backtracking to and from rooms, I tired from walking the same slow corridors over and over. It became a grind and that’s no fun at all.

An engine that just isn’t up to scratch, inconsistent gameplay and design ruined this game, which showed great potential. Some may enjoy the puzzles, I know some people who will get more satisfaction from games such as these than I do, but the price, the length of only a mere 2 or 3 hours coupled with all the letdowns made KGB Unleashed a great disappointment.

And where was all the Vodka? You can't have Russians without Vodka!
Posted: October 10
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
3.6 hrs on record
This game has its good parts and its bad parts, like any other game. However I feel like this game is nowhere near worth what the asking price is, and even though I only got it for a buck or two on sale, I still regret buying it.

I love cold war era stories, and so I thought this game was right up my alley. It's a point and click, and while I'm usually hesitant to BUY point and click games (some of my favorites like Submachine are free) I saw the cold war style and thought it might be worth the couple dollars it was selling for.

Boy was I wrong. This game has a great story (albeit very short) and I thought it was pretty interesting. The puzzles were hard, and kind of abstract, but most point and click games are like that anyways so that's kind of a moot point. The music is pretty awesome, the graphics are beautiful, and the controls are pretty straightforward. The game is pretty reading heavy, and while I'm fine with that, others are not. The biggest gripe I have with this game is the english voice acting, because honestly it's subpar at it's best. You can obviously tell the cinematics are tailored to have the dialogue go on longer, and it seems like the voice actors for the english translation just wanted to get through with it as quickly as possible. The main character had an okay voice, the loudspeaker voice was just laughable because he sounded like he was just reading the lines, and honestly, the best voice actor in the game was the one guy you talk to on the phone for like a minute.

The biggest problem overall is the fact that this is a pirated english version of the Russian game "Phobos 1953". I don't know if the whole quarrel between the Russian developers and the pirates has been settled, but when I learned about this, I felt wrong buying it, even if it was like two bucks. Overall, don't buy this game. If you are so curious, watch a playthrough of it online or something. Just don't buy it, it will be a waste of your money.
Posted: June 26
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50 of 63 people (79%) found this review helpful
2.3 hrs on record
I’m treading the line with this one. Is 1953 a terrible game? No it does have some redeeming features. But it has some little problems punctuated by one MASSIVE issue and I’m left thinking I should dissuade you from making the purchase.

There are plenty of adventure games, many right here on Steam, that deserve your attention more. Even when you narrow it down to the “horror”-niche of point-and-click adventure gaming there are other games like Scratches and Dark Falls (or hell, even Amnesia and Penumbra to an extent as long as you are willing to toss the point-and-click out) that are infinitely more enjoyable. But, if you’ve exhausted your options then this game might be worth your time, it’s the bottom of the barrel but it does manage to do a couple things right.

Its greatest sin is committing the point-and-click taboo: pixel hunting. That line is probably enough to send plenty of adventure veterans running for the hills. Pixel hunting is perhaps the biggest factor separating a good game from a sub-par or downright bad one. A good game cleverly takes your eyes to certain things while still being subtle, a bad one requires you to find the exact hit-box on the screen the developers arbitrarily decided to make a key point. Often with little or no sign that you need to interact with that area. And even once you do find it if you haven’t already collected the necessary shiny mcguffin (more pixel hunting) needed to interact with that area, then god help you.

1953 starts off down this road instantly when I found myself trapped for about 20-minutes in the first two rooms. Eventually I found a floor panel that you have to pull up. The issue is not only was the panel in complete darkness, with little to suggest anything of note, but the hit-box for selecting it was painfully small. A rather simple puzzle was thus rendered an exercise in frustration based not on my ability to understand what needed to be done, but on the games inability to show me where I needed to go. You don’t need to shepherd your player like a 2-year-old and force their hand, but you do need to give some sort of indication that an area might be important. Rather than expecting me to find the one tiny pixel in an un-notable black floor that forwards the plot.

Things open up a bit from there and you get to do a little exploration. But you still find a lot of this happening where you missed that one container from 30-minutes ago. And so now you have to revisit every room and scan it in slow-motion as not to miss the cue that you’re over something important.

After that little rant you’d think I’d be hard pressed to say anything good, and don’t get me wrong this is a huge negative that detracts from the enjoyment considerably. But as I said it does some good things.

The atmosphere is oppressive and though it’s never frightening it does manage to make you uneasy, despite knowing nothing would happen I still found myself nervous in dark areas. The story (as far as I’ve got) is decent, it’s pretty rote and predictable, but it’s done with enough care that you at least feel invested. Though your surroundings are bland, gun-gray concrete rooms and other traditional industrial clichés they’re all rendered carefully. Machinery is caked in grime, walls have been carefully rendered to have unique pitting instead of repeat textures, and various odds and ends lying about give the impression that the area was lived in at one point. This is backed up by some excellent sound design that throws all sorts of eerie clanks, hums, and hisses at you. Additionally the game occasionally hits a stride where you don’t run into too much of the dreaded pixel hunting and for those brief periods is quite enjoyable.

I will mention that most of the puzzles so far have been rather easy, but I also haven’t reached the end-game. So far the challenge has been less about solving the puzzles, and more about finding the necessary items to get the puzzle moving.

And in the end that’s what’s running me off. I may never finish 1953 because while I love what they’re trying to do here, every time the atmosphere and story try to soak me in that’s all shot out the window the moment I then have to comb my surroundings with a hawk-eye for 30-minutes to proceed. I want to like the game, it got so much right but when you solve a problem in an adventure game you’re supposed to feel gratified. Part of adventure games is your own wit, but the other part is the cunning developers making you THINK it’s your own wit. Crafting things in such a way as to mentally test you, but not to the point of frustration. And that’s the issue, when I finally solve a problem in 1953 I don’t feel like I’d accomplished anything, I just felt grateful I finally stumbled across the latest key item and can get this over with.

And that’s a death sentence for an adventure game, at least for me.
Posted: February 12
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