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Backlogged

Published on September 2nd, 2014 | by Chris Scott

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Backlogged: 1953 – KGB Unleashed

Over the last five years I’ve bought a lot of games via sales on Steam, Xbox Live, and PSN that I’ve never got around to playing. Backlogged is an attempt to rectify that while chronicling my thoughts on those titles in a more informal approach.

For as much as I love gameplay heavy games like platformers and shooters, I still love a great story and no genre does storytelling better than adventure games. After all, how hard can you mess up a game where you just point and click at things to reveal exposition? Granted, I’m being a bit reductionary with that view of the genre, as some adventure games feature wonderfully thought out puzzles to go along with their rich storytelling. But at the end of the day, storytelling is the backbone of the adventure game and without a strong narrative, they are generally poor excuses for games.

Focusing on the exploration of an old Soviet bunker where paranormal experiments were being performed, the premise of 1953 – KGB Unleashed was interesting enough to capture my attention. And then the game started and it all went downhill from there.

As the character, I awoke from unconsciousness inside a supply closet, outside of the generator room. The game gave little indication as to why I was here, except that I was some sort of engineer that was working on maintaining the facility. I left the room only to realize that I’ll need to get the power going again before anything else can happen. I knew what I had to do but how to actually accomplish that task was another matter. Instead of offering some rational approach to solving the initial puzzle I’m was stuck doing a pixel hunt and then trying anything I find on everything I could interact with. It’s a lazy start to the game’s puzzles and they never get any better.

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As I said though, the puzzles in an adventure game are just there to allow for the revelation of exposition to further the narrative. Unfortunately the game itself pushed nearly all of its storytelling through pages and pages of text. Some of it was interesting, but reading six and seven page documents with 500 words a piece on them got tiring, and if I had skipped any of it, I would have quickly started to lose any sense of a cohesive story. And then the game just became a quest for escape in a purposely obtuse puzzle box, one that wasn’t particularly fun to attempt to solve.

I tried to stick with the story; I really did. I wanted to be invested but the game fought me at every corner. It doesn’t help that the game takes place in just a handful of “explorable” areas and it is over in just a few hours.

1953 – KGB Unleashed is a poor excuse for a game, and a definite misfire on my part when I bought it during a Steam sale. I’d advise to stay clear of this one.

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