KURSK | PS4 Review
Updated: Nov 19, 2021
KURSK, developed by Jujubee, and published by Forever Entertainment, is a first person adventure based on and inspired by real events where you take on the role of a fictitious spy who boards the Russian submarine K-141 Kursk seeking information and inadvertently gets himself wrapped up in the tragic events that befall the Kursk. For the purpose of my review I was playing the PlayStation 4 version, however it is also available on Windows PC and XBox.
In August 2000, the Russian Submarine Kursk sank due to a leak of peroxide within one of the torpedo rooms. This then caused a torpedo warhead to be detonated which then went on to trigger approximately half a dozen other warheads. Within the next two minutes it is said that the explosion was the equivalent of up to seven tons of TNT being detonated and it was such a large blast, that seismic activity was felt all across Northern Europe. There were 118 sailors aboard the Submarine at that time but despite the best efforts from international rescue teams, they all succumbed to either the blast itself or the highly pressurised water flooding the Submarine. Initially, there were 23 survivors that managed to get to the stern however they also unfortunately perished within the days that followed this tragedy from lack of oxygen. This is the tragic series of events where the game starts up. After a brief moment in the final events, you're then taken on a flashback to a hotel room in Moscow where you, the spy, discover your mission. Your main character is a spy who gets himself into the Russian nuclear sub, K-141 Kursk and your task is to collect top-secret, sensitive information about the torpedoes and warheads aboard the Kursk. Instead you end up a witness to one of the most dramatic events that naval history has ever seen.
The concept behind KURSK is certainly an interesting one that had me really intrigued. The fact it was "part documentary" and that there was a fictitious spy planted in a real life tragedy appealed to me. Unfortunately I feel like KURSK fell short in a number of key areas that really dragged the general gameplay down and very quickly I found my interest and investment in the story to diminish. Bearing in mind that we're playing as a spy, you have to manoeuvre your way through the ship, uncovering classified information as you go, however if you get caught by any real crewmates you'll have to restart at the last checkpoint. Over the course of the game you have to gain the trust of your fellow crewmates by doing side missions for them which will lead you nicely to other secrets to find. Whilst this all sounds very exciting and James Bond-esque at first, it very quickly becomes monotonous and frustrating.
Most of the missions in KURSK are simply search, find and collect related. The captain sends you to check on something; it's broken; the engineer is on a smoke break; find him; get the part; repair the fault. These missions were made to feel even more monotonous by the awkward and long loading animations that happen as you travel through every bulkhead on the sub and generally you have to go through all of them because the missions send you from one end of the sub to the other. Initially it didn't bother me too much but a few hours in I started to dread setting off on a mission. The way point markers given for completing objectives were frustrating as well. Often it appeared that the way point was in one room, when in reality it was along the corridor and around the corner still and with the movement feeling incredibly clunky, this was just not an effort I felt like making and this also took away a large portion of my enjoyment.
Visually, KURSK is OK, however I found the game to be incredibly buggy. Early on, just after I arrived on the sub I was told to follow someone but once we reached a certain point that character decided it was wise to simply walk round in circles, glitching himself through a set of stairs and glitching through walls and I couldn't progress. I tried to reload the game from the last checkpoint and it still happened. So I restarted the game and it still happened. Normally at this stage I'd have given up but for the purpose of my review I persisted and started a new game where he had finally stopped glitching through walls. Along with this, the general movement around the sub is incredibly clunky and makes for incredibly tedious gameplay and I found my investment in the story waning very quickly.
The soundscape was probably one of the highlights of the game for me. The sounds of the sub were well done and there were the occasional moments where Year 2000 by Pulp began playing when you ventured into the recreational area. The voice acting was immersive because it was all in Russian with English subtitles. However they all looked and sounded like cheap made robots made of cardboard.
At its core, KURSK has potential, however it could really benefit from being totally re-made from the bare bones to provide a truly immersive documentary experience. My time in KURSK felt like more effort than was required and sapped my enjoyment for the story at every opportunity. Everything felt the same and everything felt like way too much effort for what it was intended to do. With such a tragic story, I really hoped to see some more passion put across through the story to honour such a tragedy. KURSK did try really hard to be good but with gameplay that felt like it was created in 2000 and so many bugs mixed in with the general clunky gameplay I very quickly found myself struggling to remain interested.
Lj's Rating: 2 out of 5.
For more information on KURSK please use the following links...
Many thanks to Forever Entertainment for the Review Key.