Kursk Review

Very few games based on real life events claim to be “part documentary”, so when Kursk claimed just that in it’s blurb I was intrigued. Could the tragic events of the real life submarine transfer into a fun, yet informative, adventure?

Short answer; no. Not for lack of trying mind, but the dull, repetitive nature of exploring the Kursk only hinders what is already a pretty bland tale. While it may be based on a real life event, Storm Trident have taken a fair amount of creative licence with the story. We play as a spy infiltrating the sub in search of some sort of highly classified info. Along the way we need to gain the trust of the crew by completing side missions, while at the same time breaking and entering into classified areas and using our early 2000’s era spy gadgets to hack computers, or take photos of the sub. It sounds like an exciting set up, but it falls flat at almost every turn.

The crew of the Kursk are stuck in place for the most part, and stare at us with cold, dead eyes when facing them. Dialogue is wooden, and any sort of interest in the story is instantly vaporised when they begin talking. I could forgive this though if exploring the Kursk was as fun and tense as it sounded. However, in aiming for a semblance of realism, moving around the sub is tedious at best, and down right annoying at worst. Get used to seeing the below a lot:

Each section of the sub is broken up by these bulk heads, and we get to watch the exact same, slooooow animation each and every time we go through one. Which is a lot. Almost every objective I came across would send me up one end of the Kursk, only to send me right back where I came from for the next part. This would typically involve at least three bulkhead openings, with the occasional slow stair climb or door opening chucked in for good measure. When the bulk of play is moving about the submarine, that it is tedious from the off is a bad sign. Following the objective markers is a mixed bag too as often it’ll appear to be right behind a door, only for us to find it is actually behind the room we just entered, meaning we need to exit the room and carry on around the corridor.

The occasional bit of spy work is handled pretty poorly too, even if there is at least a little tension in that we can get caught by the crew if we’re not quick enough. Most of the actual work though is a matter of finding the correct sequence of numbers and letters that is less challenging, and more process of elimination. Taking photo’s simply needs us to get it in focus, while lock picking is a vague mess of judging how long to hold the A button to kick up each pin in turn.

As for the documentary part? Well, there are documents around that give background into the sub and it’s purpose, and the sub itself is fairly detailed (though I’m not sure how accurate it is to the Kursk specifically). But as with the rest of Kursk it’s just not engaging enough to make me care about a very real tragedy.

Conclusion

Kursk had some promise, aiming to be part adventure and part documentary of a real world tragedy. What we got though is a boring spy story mixed with tedious exploration and puzzles, staffed with a crew that would make Pinocchio feel like a real boy. You’d be much better off reading or watching any of the other media out there documenting this real world event.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Offers some background on a real world event
Bad
  • Boring story and dialogue
  • Tedious exploration and puzzles
2.4
Awful
Gameplay - 2
Graphics - 3.4
Audio - 2
Longevity - 2
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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