Tuesday, 18 April 2017

KGB - The Trouble with Viktor

Written by Torch

I’m still in chapter 2. During my previous session, I met a mystery contact, who I refer to as Cut-throat, based on the phrase he used to identify himself. I don’t know who he works for yet. Could be an organization, or someone independent. Nevertheless, I provided him with some info, and he returned the favor. I’m now back in my hotel room, right after our meeting, waiting for my Department P mission controller to show up at 7.30 pm.

Well, there’s no time to rest. At exactly 7.30, I hear a knock on the door. It’s the controller, Major Savinkov, and he has apparently decided to bring me a house-warming ( or rather hotel-warming ) gift, in the form of a dead body. Swell...


Gee, thanks for bringing in more work, major.


Savinkov tells me that he was brought to my room at gunpoint by the dead guy, but had managed to relieve him of his gun by adjusting the angle of the guy’s head relative to his neck. I search the body and find a photo of me, which seems to be copied off of my KGB ID. I can also take his hat and raincoat, and finally, I find a phone number ( 48336 ) written on the palm of his hand. Seems like Rukov has a knack for remembering phone numbers, because I recognize the number from the phone booth at the front of the hotel, after which Savinkov recalls seeing a nervous-looking man standing by that same booth when he arrived.

We decide to dial the phone number. A man’s voice answers:


Viktor can’t come to the phone right now. He’s got a severe case of dead guy syndrome

Seems like the dead guy’s name is Viktor. Could it be Viktor Matsnev, that Cut-throat wanted me to check out? Now wouldn’t that be convenient? Perhaps too convenient. Except that we killed him, so we would have interrupted the video-crack deal, so not really convenient after all. But no, I’m pretty sure this is NOT Viktor Matsnev. I actually remember why, from the first time I played this game, but I won’t spoil. I keep it simple and manage to convince him to come up to my room.

Now the major wants me to set a trap, so we can catch the guy. He positions himself next to the door, and tells me to work something out, that will draw phone guy into the room. Ok ok, think fast! When inspecting the dead body, the game made a point of telling me that he was about my size, and his hat and raincoat are now in my inventory. What’s the logical thing to do?


Hey, I kinda look like Cut-throat. Maybe he’s me from the future…

Naturally, I put on the hat and raincoat, then move the body into the bathroom. To further enhance the illusion, I turn off the light. ( I have to say, the game has done a good job of restoring my faith in light switches after those first couple of unfortunate incidents. ) After a little while, there’s a knock on the door, and a man enters. He sees my silhouette in the dark, and, believing it’s his accomplice, he walks into the room, but he doesn’t get very far before he’s floored by Major Savinkov.

While we wait for him to wake up, Savinkov wants a debriefing. Now, this is somewhat interesting. I can choose to tell him everything that’s happened today, or everything EXCEPT the whole Cut-throat deal. I don’t know if this will make any difference, but I tried both. If I tell him about Cut-throat, he thinks it’s Kusnetsov who’s trying to pull one over on me, and says to just be careful and not let him fool me. He seems to think Kusnetsov and Chapkin are the main culprits in this case, and that Agabekov is also investigating them. I’m not sure what to believe at this point, but I think I’m leaning more towards Cut-throat’s theories. Oh, he acknowledges that my camera is broken, and promises to get me a new one.

Eventually, sleeping beauty wakes up, and we get to interrogate him. Oh, if he only knew what he’s gotten himself into now… His name is Piotr Burlatski. He claims that he and his accomplice, Viktor Sliunkov ( see? Not Matsnev ) came here looking for valuables. My colleague, however, doesn’t quite buy that explanation:


Ve have vays of making you tock
5 CAPs for the first one who gets the reference ( the most relevant one )

Well, that got him talking, alright. He informs us that he and Sliunkov got a message to go to the hotel Syevyernaya Zvyezda, room 304. A man with black hair ( they couldn’t see his face because of fancy lamp work ) gave them a picture of Rukov, along with 100 dollars and a promise of 200 more when the job was done. Guess I need to go back to that hotel and investigate some more. But first, we’ve got a couple of loose ends to tie up.

The major takes Burlatski with him, to get rid of him somehow ( I don’t know if I want to know the details ), and he leaves it to me to dispose of the dead guy, Viktor Sliunkov. I am to drop the body in the canal behind the hotel, but I bet it won’t be as easy as just dragging it along all the way down there. I’ve got one hour, then we’re meeting back at my room again. Savinkov gives me a tip before leaving, though. Since militia pass by the canal frequently, I should try to disguise Viktor as a drunk.

I figure the chances of me making my way through the reception undetected with a dead body are slim to none, and my own hotel room windows overlooks the main entrance, so dropping him from there doesn’t seem like a good idea either ( I tried, but more on that later ). Maybe the hotel room that was unlocked the other day is still open? I think that window overlooks the alley where I met Cut-throat. That’s pretty close to the canal. Alas, that room is now locked, but another room on the same side is open. There’s someone sleeping in there, with the lights off. Since my track record with light switches has improved vastly, I turn on the light, aaand…. Nothing. He’s still sleeping. Phew! I quickly search his room for loot… er… useful inventory items, and I find a bottle of vodka. That should help me create the illusion that Sliunkov’s dead drunk instead of just dead.

But I still have to get him down to the canal. I drag him into the sleeping guy’s room and dump him out the window.




Ah, um… perhaps I should’ve made sure the alley was empty first

I backtrack and run down to the alley. A couple of drunks have taken up residence near the trash cans. I manage to get them to split by offering them the bottle of vodka I found. That, however, ruins my chances of passing Sliunkov off as a drunk, so I backtrack and try using the bottle on him first. That seems to do the trick, since the game now notes that he smells like a distillery. By the way, as I moved through the reception I noticed the night portier was on watch. I try talking to him, exhausting all dialogue options, and one option involves claiming that another guest is making a lot of noise. This makes the portier leave his desk to go up and check. I search the area in his absence and find a wheelchair behind the desk. How convenient. I take it and run back to Sliunkov, place him in it and give him back his hat and raincoat. Hopefully this will fool the militia.


I was actually planning on getting him some fresh water. A LOT of fresh water.

It does! They buy the my disguise and move on. I dump the whole shebang in the canal, wheelchair and all, and go back up to my hotel room to wait for Savinkov again.

By the way, I’m not sure if I hit a bug or what, but if I dump him out my own window, then hurry down and move him into the alley, I can do everything, including fooling the militia and dumping him in the canal, but when I reenter the hotel, I get a game over message that seems like the body is still lying in front of the hotel, and people are gathering around, alerting the militia and so on.

Well, back in my room, after waiting a little while, Major Savinkov shows up again, and requests to be debriefed. I inform him that his orders have been carried out. Strangely enough, he compliments me on a job well done. I’m not really used to this kind of positive feedback from KGB officers ( except Galushkin, but he was a friend of Rukov’s parents ), so I’m not sure if I should be suspicious or not. We’ll see where this goes.


What’s this? Praise? Are you sure you work for the KGB?

He tells me to go to the hotel Syevyernaya Zvyezda to try to learn something about who it was who sent the killers after me and be back in my hotel by 7 am. He’ll want to listen to any recordings I’ve made, so I should make sure to bring my recorder. Err.… The transmitter is still in the warehouse. Hope I can get it on the way…

As soon as Savinkov leaves, I head out of the hotel and go to Hammer & Sickle street, where the warehouse is located. I make my way inside via the bar and the skylight windows, then head for Mechulaiev’s office…. only it’s locked. Drat! What do I do now? Can I go to the hotel without a working recorder? I try restoring and going back at various moments in time to retrieve the transmitter, but I can’t find a window where I can get it back. Maybe I’ll just have to go to the hotel and hope that I won’t need it.

Very well, I take the metro to hotel Syevyernaya Zvyezda, go in and head for the bar. Since it’s later in the evening now, a different type of clientele has taken over.


We’re just discussing politics. Mmmm… politics

I try talking to some of the girls, to find out about room 304, and one of them says her “colleague” Tamara uses two different rooms, and 304 is one of them. Tamara is apparently not here ( yet ), but there’s an American businessman, who’s primarily interested in promoting soft drinks and making jokes about Russians, and a German who only speaks…. German. I don’t think either of them are important. After a little while, Tamara arrives.


Because…um... health inspection!

I’d like to have a look at her room, so I pretend I’m in interested in purchasing her… services. She’s all up for that, as long as I have 50 US dollars…. Seriously! What am I doing with these rubles?! Well, I don’t have any dollars, so I’ll have to figure something out.

I don’t have to work very hard, though. As soon as my conversation with Tamara ends, a couple of new characters enter. One is described as an elegant woman, and the other one looks a heck of a lot like the American from Verto’s apartment in Kursk street. The parser identifies him as Greenberg. Regardless of which one of them I approach, the woman will contact me and ask to talk to me in the lobby. She claims to be working with Greenberg on and speaking on his behalf, since Greenberg doesn’t want to risk being seen talking to me. To prove her intent, she offers to answer some of my questions.


Oh, so he too gets paid in rubles

Ok, I’ll bite. I ask her about a few of the topics I’m investigating. Of particular interest is “New birth”, which she says is a codename for an unofficial group within KGB, who believe that some top KGB officers are plotting to overthrow Gorbachev and replace him with a hardline communist. She also confirms my suspicion that Kusnetsov and Chapkin run the prostitute operation here, and I learn that Sliunkov is ( was ) a small-time criminal who got arrested by Chapkin, and then made to do his dirty work. Finally, I ask her for some American money, and she surprisingly complies, giving me $150. She tells me Greenberg will contact me tomorrow afternoon or evening, then she leaves, and I go back to the bar.

Since I trust Wallace about as far as I can throw her, ( and there’s no “throw” action in this game ) I decide to approach Greenberg anyway. His story doesn’t line up with hers, of course. He tells me that Wallace DOES work for the C.I.A., but not with him. She belongs to a group of people who liked things the way they were before perestroika. He’s also investigating the snuff videos, but he’s not sure he really needs me for anything, so I’ll have to divulge some information if I want anything in return. Since I’m not sure who to trust at this point, I go with what feels natural and answer his questions.

Greenberg first wants to know who my controller is, and he’s got some quite interesting information regarding Major Savinkov, claiming that he’s a manipulator, and that I should be most wary when he gets friendly and tells me to take it easy.


Cuban cigars, you say… 

Well well well! Could it be Savinkov who gave Agabekov the cigar? That would explain why he’s so insistent to turn my attention towards Kusnetsov and Chapkin. Everyone in this game seems to have an agenda of their own. Greenberg also asks me about someone or something called Protopopov. I haven’t heard or seen that term before, so I can’t really help him. Nevertheless, he agrees to answer some questions.

He half confirms what Wallace said about “New birth”, that they seem to be an unofficial KGB group, though he can’t confirm whether they’re in favor of or opposed to perestroika. He also gives me some info on Obukov, the well-dressed man who came to Mechulaiev’s warehouse, and who I tailed to find this hotel. Obukov seems to be the one to arrange the transfer of video tapes to the US, which in turn explains Greenberg’s own involvement with the snuff videos. He thinks there’s a connection between drugs rings operating in North America and the tapes being distributed there. Before leaving, he suggests we meet again at 12 noon tomorrow in Ladoga park.

It’s time to have a look at room 304, so I hail Tamara again, and show her my not-so-very-hard-earned dollars, after which I get to accompany her up to the room and pay her the 50 bucks.


Exotic positions? Like say... manager of a team of tibetan gurus?

As I utter the word “TALK”, my recorder starts playing. What the…. Oh right, as Guzenko informed me, it can be set to voice activated playback, responding only to my voice. Rukov automatically switches it to manual.

I look around the room, but find nothing of interest. I ask about her boss, saying I’d like to meet him, and she tells me she could try to arrange something if I come back tomorrow. We’ll see about that. I also ask her about the other room she uses. She’s reluctant to tell me the number, but hints that another $50 might do the trick. I didn’t really expect to get to keep all this actually useful money anyway, so I fork it over to learn that the other room is 416. I think I’ve got what I need, so I leave her and take the elevator to the 4th floor.

All the floors have a woman sitting outside in the hallway, for some reason, letting guests enter the prostitutes’ rooms in exchange for a $10 tip. Not sure why, but by paying the one on the 4th floor, I gain admittance to room 416.

The room looks like a typical hotel room, except for some pictures of nude women on the walls. There’s also a big mirror right next to the bed. Upon close inspection, Rukov remarks that it’s a two-way mirror, and it’s possible to make out a dark room, number 418, on the other side. I ask the floor lady about letting me in there, but she refuses, even after I show her my ID, claiming that she only answers to Leningrad KGB, and that she doesn’t have the key anyway. I guess I’ll have to try something else. I go back to 416 to search the room thoroughly and find an ashtray on a table. Since it’s been awhile since my last proper screw-up, I decide to discover what happens when an ashtray and a mirror meet at high velocity.


Oh no, look what happened by accident

On the other side of the mirror is a camera and tape recorder, everything you’d need to make compromising videos of your friends and enemies. I search the room and find a wedding photo of Kusnetsov, Chapkin and what I assume is Chapkin’s wife ( and Kusnetsov’s daughter). I find nothing more, so I decide to make like a tree and get the heck out of there before the wrong people are alerted by the noise I must have made. I don’t think there’s anything else substantial for me to do here, so I head back to the hotel Gostinitsa. The game is starting to inform me that I’m getting tired, so I go straight up to my room, and throw myself on ( ok, “use” ) the bed. What a day this has been.

Before I wrap up this post, I’ll say that there seems to be a fair bit of optional content to experience at the hotel Syevyernaya Zvyezda. Some dialogue options may change if I present my KGB ID at the the start of a conversation, and I can engage in various activities with at least two of the prostitutes. If I don’t talk to Tamara, but just go with what she initially expects me to, I don’t lose the game. I can return to the bar and continue playing. I’ll probably lose eventually, though, when I’m not at some required spot, or missing some information during some kind of debriefing. So far I haven’t exploited all options, so if anyone has any interesting information regarding this section ( Adamant, I’m looking at you ), feel free to elaborate.

12 comments:

  1. There's a lot of optional dialogue at the hotel (the American businessman is hilarious), but most of it is just ways to dead-end yourself. Bug the blonde prostitute that doesn't like Russians enough and she'll get the bartender to ban you from the bar, ruining your mission. Spend money on things you don't need to and you won't have the $110 total you need to bribe Tamara and the 4th floor watch (though you can ask Greenberg for another $50, so you have a couple extra dollars if you need them. I'm not actually sure if you can go with Tamara twice or if you end up in a dead man walking scenario if you don't immediately ask her about her other room, but you can definitely spend Greenbergs money on the other prostitute's services without it affecting your mission in any way). Not sure what happens if you blow your chances to investigate the hotel properly, honestly. I think you get to just keep playing until Savinkov shows up in the morning for a debrief, at which point he'll send you to Siberia for your poor show.

    You don't need to put the raincoat and hat back on Viktor to pass him of as a drunk, so you're free to spend the rest of the chapter dressed as Dick Tracy if you'd like. Likewise, if you feel nice, you can take him out of the wheelchair before tossing him in the canal and then return the wheelchair to the portier. None of this affects anything.

    Tossing Viktor out of your own window leads to a game over because people saw you doing it and called the militia. Depending on exactly where you are at what point, you won't necessarily be told about this until the militia actually arrives, which seems to be what happened. It's not a bug.

    Whether or not you tell Savinkov about Cut-Throat doesn't change anything beyond slightly altering some dialogue, from what I know. If you mention Cut-Throat to him later he'll get pretty angry at you for keeping information from him, but it's not a game ender.

    Also, regarding Greenberg, you find his passport alongside all your stuff in Verto's apartment after escaping capture back in chapter 1. You'll learn his name if you read it, and the game just kinda assumes you did, which is why he's just identified as Greenberg here.

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    1. I tried some of the stuff in the hotel, but I didn't aim to discover everything. Yeah, the american businessman is a funny one

      I don't think Tamara reappeared in the bar after I.. hmm... purchased the wrong service. Perhaps you can reenter the room by paying the floor guard...

      I didn't know you could get money from Greenberg as well. The first time I ask, he tells me he saw me getting some from Wallace. Do you have to spend that first, or can you just keep bugging him?

      I noticed the reaction from Savinkov when I told him about Cut-throat on my second debrief. I'm not sure if that depends on whether or not I kept Cut-throat from him on the first debrief...?

      As for when I dump Sliunkov out my own window, the game over message felt like it was out of place, but I don't remember it specifically. I may have to go back and check.

      I DID find something I'm pretty sure is a bug, though. Maybe I'll include it in a post, but if I go to the hotel room opposite mine during chapter 4 and "Use" the phone, a strange message appears.

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    2. I think you need to spend some of the money you get from Wallace before Greenberg will give you any. Not sure exactly what triggers the flag that makes him give you money, and it's not like you need it anyway.

      If you kept Cut-Throat from Savinkov the first time around, then namedrop him during the second debriefing, he'll ask who you're talking about, then get really mad at you once he learns you kept this from him earlier. There's not much more to it than that, and it doesn't affect anything.

      And yeah, the phone thing in chapter 4 is a well known bug. Just some pointers that got misplaced.

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  2. On another note, one thing that feels rather contrieved about the events here (slight spoilers for things the game half expects you to have realized by now but doesn't outright make clear until chapter 3):
    Fnivaxbi, Bohxbi naq Ntnorxbi ner nyy va pnubbgf, naq gurl XABJ lbh'er fclvat ba Zrpuhynvri'f tnat ng guvf cbvag, juvpu gurl jnag lbh gb qb fb lbh pna trg rivqrapr cebivat Xhgfargfbi'f vaibyirzrag. Ohg qrfcvgr guvf, Bohxbi fgvyy pubbfrf gb ivfvg Zrpuhynvri ng n cbvag ur fubhyq or cerggl cbfvgvir lbh'er fclvat ba uvz, GURA tbrf gb frr Ntnorxbi, yrggvat uvzfrys trg gnvyrq ol lbh. Fnivaxbi'f rkgerzryl genafcnerag nggrzcg ng pbirevat sbe Ntnorxbi gura znxrf UVZ ybbx fhfcvpvbhf. Vg'f yvxr gurl jnag gb trg pnhtug.

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    1. Is this safe to read if I've finished chapter 3?

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    2. Or actually, I guess it does slightly spoil some of the reveals in chapter 4, you're probably best off waiting until you're done with that.

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  3. I've been lean on CAPs recently, so I'll give it a go.

    Ve have vays of making you tock

    Archer?

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    1. Hmm... not quite. It's from a game, that's not ( yet ) been played on this blog.

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    2. When I think about it, it's pretty obscure, actually..

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  4. Love the Hitchcock reference.

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