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 (287 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
14 of 18 people (78%) found this review helpful
7.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 28
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.
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9 of 12 people (75%) found this review helpful
3.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 10
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!
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7 of 9 people (78%) found this review helpful
3.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 13
I'm a fan of Point and Clicks, I'm a fan of crazy Russian stuff, I'm also a fan of The X-Files. You'd think KGB 1953 would be really fun to play with all those things considered, but it strangely wasn't. It was actually pretty frustrating.

I'm left wondering just where the story started and at what point it ends. There are plenty of documents and files to read as you progress through the game to flesh out the situation and provide hints and clues to puzzles (and why you're in the bunker) but you never really get any resolve. It's just one big 'what' moment.

One big 'what' moment dotted with lots of smaller 'what' moments in the form of some of the most mind numbingly frantically click and hope puzzles I've experienced in a point and click. Some of them are pretty clever, while the majority rely on you being able to distinguish collectible items from the backgrounds they're hiding in. So you'll find most of time just clicking and hoping and wondering where the logic/reason was behind the solution.

In the end KGB 1953 is a game that should only be experienced by people who want to experience just how odd this game is. Point and click fans might be disappointed by it, and those new to the genre should avoid this completely.
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9 of 14 people (64%) found this review helpful
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: June 26
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.
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13 of 22 people (59%) found this review helpful
0.7 hrs on record
Posted: September 7
Russian point and click simulator.
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
3.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 16
This is a fun point and click game that creates really amazing atmosphere and knows how to show its story rather than bluntly shove it in the players face.

I can't understand all the negative reviews for this game, it is overpriced (get it in a bundle or on sale), its short and it is def very frustrating at times (use a walkthrough) but it is fun and creates amazing atmosphere; it lets you inspect and read all kinds of things that explain the setting and flesh out the story, and let you interact with cool things (the radio was my favorite), the music and sound effects build the mood of confusion and isolation, and the graphics are really good. The controls are what you'd expect, you can do everything with the mouse and the game lets you know when you can pick up or interact with something - so no pixel hunting. And speaking of walkthroughs, they should have included one like they did on the disc but you can translate this one: http://www.adventurespel.nl/walk/1953kgb.htm

If you’re a fan of the genre and like creepy claustrophobic games check this out.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.1 hrs on record
Posted: August 28
This is a classic style point and click adventure game. I mean it is just like the old ones that used to be popular in the '90's, right down to a fixed aspect ratio of 4:3, and no High Resolution support, which is pretty inexcusable for a PC game that came out in 2012 (2013 US). It is also very short, easily able to be completed within 4-5 hours. It does feature some interesting atmosphere and story, dealing with a sealed and evacuated KGB bunker, many notes you find providing background, furnishings and propaganda posters you find are evocative of the 1950's. The story ultimately revolves around human experimentation, and features a twist near the end, along with a manufactured and unsatisfying ending that doesn't really come off as believable. The game also suffers from the kind of problem many adventure games have had since the original Myst, namely to advance, sometimes you have to do exactly what the game designers had in mind, using the precise tool on a specific piece of equipment, at the specific time the progression allows it, and not before. More than once I couldn't figure out why perfectly logical combinations didn't work, because only one specific one out of the multiple ones that would have worked was programmed to. Also at least one puzzle I couldn't solve because I was apparently trying to solve too early, the event refusing to work until I ran down other, incorrect leads. All in all, the game has zero replay value, and I would say it is worth playing through once, but only if it can be bought for very cheap, like say less than five dollars.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.2 hrs on record
Posted: September 6
Only get this game if it comes in a bundle! It's very short, you can complete the game in about 3 hours and the puzzles make no sense whatsoever. On a positive note it does have an interesting story and is also atmospheric throughout.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
3.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 24
1953 - KGB Unleashed - This is the perfect example of a game with so much potential but is ultimately ruined due-to really poor execution. While this game has a deep atmosphere, a dark and intriguing back-story and somewhat realistic graphics, it is all downhill after the first room.

The basics are summed up on the store page so we don't need to go into those little details. The game itself is a Point-&-Click puzzle game, a genre that certainly isn't for everybody but can be very enjoyable if done correctly (see Monkey Island for example), 1953 - KGB Unleashed is not one of those games.
For starters, the interface and menu style feel really amateur when compared to the rest of the games art style. The puzzles that are presented to you almost instantly are either extremely difficult or make little to no sense, the examples I'm about to give may spoil the game for anybody interested in trying it out so read on at your own risk.

One or two of the tasks you have to overcome are relatively easy, such as the voltage puzzle in the first room (even though this involves the dreaded pixel-hunting at first) and there is another puzzle a little bit further in where you have to repair a cable, these are examples of the easier puzzles, and then there are those that make absolutely no sense such as tuning a radio very specifically to open a hidden passage... yes... seriously... these are the instances I'm talking about that make absolutely no sense.
You get vague instructions and hints from picking up documents and reading notices as you go through the game, plus you have to look very carefully at everything you come across to get hints and pay close attention to the little details of the rooms you are in to acquire certain objects that are important, or again, pixel-hunting, these aspects are interesting but equally annoying. If it wasn't for an online walkthrough I stumbled across, I don't think I could have ever figured out that the radio tuning opened the secret passage. There is also a part where you have to place a certain object in a certain room atop a certain crate, something that you could only figure out purely by chance / trial and error.

Finally, the game is short, very short, the hours of play people build up are purley based on the amount of time it takes you to figure out some of the absurd and extremely difficult puzzles, once you are all clued up and give it another play through, it can be completed in no less than 20 minutes.

So that's about it for this game I'm afraid. I don't like giving games negative reviews, really, but all good aspects of this game are hugely overshadowed by all of it's negatives. This could have been something much more, it's a shame. I would say buy it in a sale or a cheap bundle (like I did) if you're still interested in trying it, but it is highly likely that you'll have to consult a walkthrough more than once.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 9
After finding this game from some bundle I honestly don't remember I thought I'd give it a go. Right off the bat, it commits the cardinal sin of Point-and-Clicks: Pixel Hunting. The only way to start the generator is from one specific angle on one of the 3 screens in the 2nd room, at a tiny hitbox in the floor.

It's not that I don't know how to complete these puzzles, it's that they're unnecessarily complicated, awkward, unintuitive and frustrating to boot. I didn't encounter "use banana with telephone during rain on tuesday" at any point which is a point in it's favour, but the endless reams of text serving as "backstory" don't help either.

Yes, the game's setting and art can be atmospheric but that illusion is instantly ruined by the main character talking english in a very thick American accent, when this game is supposedly set in a soviet bunker.

The final nail in this game's coffin was the lack of subtitles and inability to change resolution.
I would certainly not recommend this game at full price, and unless you're willing to put up with a lot of irritating poor game design choices I can't recommend it in a sale either.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
3.6 hrs on record
Posted: July 25
1953 - KGB Unleashed is a mediocre adventure game with little thrill to be had. The mystery is not very interesting, and the clues to progress aren't thought out very well. For the majority of the game, you'll ask yourself "Okay, I got this item, I went into this room, now what?" You'll find that as the story progresses, the continuity starts to drift into the nether. At one point you answer a phone and talk to a comrade, and the story makes you believe that you'll meet him at some point, but you don't. The ending was very lame too, it seemed like the developers didn't know how to move the story along, so they went with a deus ex machina which was neither clever nor exciting. I mean it too, the ending is bad, very bad.

In the end this game was a snoozer, and you'll have more fun with something like "Syberia" than a stale piece of bread that this comes off as.

If you are into movies, I'd suggest watching "Entity" (2012) as the movie sums up what this game tries to portray.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
To be honest, I'm not a fan of pont and click (short: p&c) games, even if I played through of some, like Midnight Nowhere, Atlantis 2 or The Longest Journey. Either had their good points, mostly they had a story, atmosphere or visual. Now KGB Unleashed has these.

The visuals are really fine, somewhat photorealistic. The lights and shadows are making the atmosphere creepier, which is a good start from the base of the story. Who haven't heard about the brutality of KGB? Or their interest in paranormality and the borders after ethics in science? Well, the story isn't the strongest part of the game, and could handle more (in fact much more) about this stuff. And thus, it's making a short game, easily played through not even in 3 hours, But hey, the atmosphere makes it up. The puzzles aren't in the game: they are in your head, when you are trying putting together what has happened in that facility and the test subjects...

So basicaly, it's a good detective game, making you to think about and putting together the pieces. Never expect he would do it instead of you.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
4.4 hrs on record
Posted: July 21
in a nutshell, a mediocre point and click game in a pseudo-3D environment made of panoramic static images. You'll spend hours on this game simply hunting pixels so you can pick up an unusual assortment of items, and then spend hours still researching by means of reading the wealth of written material in this game in order to pick up hints on how to use said-items, in an attempt to escape an underground Soviet bunker.

Potentially quite clever, as it forces you to learn about cold-war-style operations in Russia leading up to Stalin's death, but the inclusion of an all-too-paranormal 'storyline' does little to impress, though to its credit, a couple of scenes are rather dark and intimidating to begin with.

I'd actually advocate the use of a step-by-step guide to finish this game, as you'll get the enjoyment of the good bits, without the laborious hunting for pixels and reading through reams of fictitious documents in order to figure out that you need to tune the radio to a particular frequency so you can open a secret door you had no incentive to hunt for.

Usual thing - pick it up in a bundle or if it's on sale - but get a guide, and play it that way, you'll thank me later.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: September 15
If you like super old school, "nintendo hard" difficulty point and click puzzle games, this is the game for you. Unfortunately, I prefer my point and click games to gradually ramp up the difficulty as I progress.

Good points, based on my very short playtime:

  • interesting premise and plot line
  • good graphics

Negatives:
  • everything is intuitive. The game doesn't help you at all, including not telling you that you have an inventory and how to access it
  • puzzles start off difficult and don't get any easier

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4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 31
Creepy atmosphere. For a point and click game, it is very short. I recommend this if its on sale.
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4 of 6 people (67%) found this review helpful
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 25
Initially released as a promo for a Russian horror film, this myst clone suffers from a horribly dated engine and irrational puzzles
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
7.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 23
Great mystic atmosphere with relevant background music, story about soviet psychic experiments on humans, game had a very good potential, but way TOO short and ends unexpectedly. Still worth to buy if you can get it in bundle (like I did, got it for $1 with pack of other games at humblebundle) or with a big discount.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 7
Got this game for free which is why I'm not going to complain as much, but still wtf this game is awful. I'm not going to want to play a game where I have to read all these books and be an actual electrician. I couldn't even get past the first room. Funny thing is I tried to cheat by looking up a walkthrough on youtube and the walkthrough person doesn't even know how to get through this crap game. Anyways 1/5000 would play again. Wish I could delete the game from my library.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 1
Wonderful game, gets a really spooky fealing once you get immersed
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 11
A short point and click game with a creepy atmosphere and story. Not really a fan of point and clicks, but still enjoyed it. if youre not following a guide youll be clicking around/looking until you find something you can interact with in this particular game, objects dont really stand or jump out, but the cursor lights up if anything is interactable.
About an hour to 3 of gameplay here.
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