1999 – Gorky 17 / Odium

Gorky 17 (also known as Odium on American shores) is a title I didn’t mind replaying in order to write this review. The primary reason being that it’s a short and sweet game.

The game places you in command of three NATO Soldiers who are dropped in a secret military complex somewhere in Poland, with limited supplies and unsure about what they are getting into.

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First thing to know: Gorky 17 is tough. Healing consumables are very limited, and if anyone in your party dies, you have to restart the battle or reload. The battle system is standard tactical phase-based RPG fare. During your turn, each character gets to Move, Select a Weapon/Item, Face a specific direction and Act (Shoot, Defend, Heal, etc) in almost any order.

Many objects can explode or be pushed to form makeshift barricades, and the player must also consider factors such as obstacles, armor type, weapon ranges, directional facing and so on. For example, attacking a target from the sides or back will grant bonus damage. Additionally, various status effects eventually come into play. Combatants can be made ‘Flammable’ and subsequently be set aflame using a variety of weapons – or simple matches.

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Typical enemies appear to come straight out of a cyberpunk nightmare. The AI is aggressive, but not suicidal, and even just one of these mutant creatures can be a serious threat. Then there are the monstrous bosses, each introduced by a short cinematic, which must be typically approached with different tactics.

Outside of combat, the emphasis is on semi-linear exploration, character banter and item collecting, as you solve light puzzles to move forward or reach hidden loot caches. Battles and events are all scripted, triggered at certain locations, and resources were balanced to be scarce, making exploration rewarding.

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Your characters becomes more proficient the more they use a weapon, and every experience level grants 5 points to distribute in a handful of stats but, unfortunately, there isn’t much gameplay deviation.

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Still, Gorky 17 offers a creative mix that few game publishers would dare nowadays, blending survival horror, light puzzles, RPG elements and old-school tactical combat in one tough, unforgiving package. Definitely worth the 20 hours playthrough. M. Simard

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