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!