Thursday 20 April 2017

KGB - The Waiting Game

Written by Torch

We’re still in chapter 2. In my previous post, I had to get rid of a dead body, interrogate prostitutes and foreign agents, and finally I got to trash a hotel room, rockstar style. No wonder I was dead tired by the time I got back to my hotel room. I emptied my pockets of hard and pointy objects, and threw myself on the bed.

Guess who found the chainsaw fuel

I sleep soundly until about 6:30, when I’m woken up by a kick in the side. It seems I’ve received an unannounced visitor, and he’s brought a gun.

It’s Chapkin, everyone!

I decide to comply, figuring I’ll find a solution in there ( in other words, I attacked him first, got killed, then backtracked ). We move into the bathroom, and Chapkin turns on all the taps, then starts asking me how I ended up in the hotel Syevyernaya Zvyezda, interfering with his “girls” and discovering the recording studio in room 418. He threatens me, that whether or not I want to, I’ll be talking my head off soon enough. I’m not sure what he means by that, but whatever I say to him, this happens:

I’m just glad he didn’t try to gun me with his club…

Hmm… I don’t have a lot of options here, and I’m sort of thinking this is supposed to happen anyway. Suddenly I remember something. When I went to bed, I automatically left all cumbersome items on the bed. This seems to include the tape recorder. If you recall my last post, this can be set to voice activated playback mode, and is invoked by Rukov’s voice uttering the word “TALK”. Well, it so happens, that one of the responses I pick can while in the bathroom is “I’m ready to talk, comrade”. Luckily, I can backtrack far enough, so that I can switch the recorder back to voice activated again, before I go to sleep. My headphones are also plugged in, so I unplug those as well. Let’s try this again, then.

This time, Chapkin is disturbed by my recorder playing back one of the recordings, and I seize the opportunity to make him check for mold on my bathroom floor. With his FACE!

Oh come on… Planking is SO 2013

While he’s out cold, I search him and find a gun and a syringe containing some sort of amber-coloured fluid. Was that meant for me? Let’s try giving him a taste of his own medicine ( if that is indeed medicine ). I inject him with his own syringe. He comes to and sits up, just staring at the ceiling. I talk to him again, and I can now ask him a bunch of questions. Turns out the syringe contained some sort of enhanced sodium pentothal, which anyone who’s played the first Deja Vu might recognize as a type of truth serum. This ought to provide some enlightenment.

Indeed it does. Poor Chapkin can’t shut up to save his life. Literally. The serum is an experimental type, so after he answers my questions, he dies. Great… Yet another body I have to dispose of. I did acquire a lot of new information, though:
  • Agabekov and Kusnetsov don’t get along very well 
  • Kusnetsov believes that Savinkov is a threat to him. ( He’s not wrong ) 
  • Savchenko is Chapkin’s informer 
  • Chapkin doesn’t know a lot about Obukov, other than that Savchenko doesn’t like him, and that he works with Mister X 
  • They aren’t making snuff movies in room 416. It used to be a honey-trap where they could get material for blackmailing, but these days they just record what the clients say, in case it becomes useful. 
  • Chapkin didn’t send the killers after me. That’s strange, seeing as they were summoned to his room, but it could all be a ruse. 
  • Mechulaiev was working on a deal to export snuff movies from Moscow and import crack from Helsinki, Finland ( Ilmari, did you know about this?! ). Usually Kusnetsov would get a share of the profits, but this time Mechulaiev was planning on cutting the colonel out. To teach him a lesson, Kusnetsov is going to go to the warehouse tomorrow night and kill Mechulaiev. ( Seriously? What’s he gonna learn from that..? ) 
  • Viktor Matsnev is not a person, it’s a ship, and it’s leaving from quay 19 at 2 pm to pick up the crack somewhere out at sea. 
  • Savchenko will pick up the crack from the ship on Sunday morning, the he and Chapkin are to take it to Kusnetsov… Err… they may have to get by without Chapkin’s help... 
  • Yakuchev is supposed to come for a share of the crack on Sunday, but Kusnetsov will have cleaned everything out. 

With Chapkin dead, I start pondering how to get rid of the body. I move it out of the bathroom, and as I weigh my options, major Savinkov comes in. Luckily, he doesn’t discover the body of Chapkin lying on the hotel room floor…. Kidding! Of course he does:

Duh! If I were trying to build a collection, why would I throw the first one in the river?

Naturally, Savinkov wants to know if I learned anything useful. As far as I can tell, only the truth and nothing but the truth will prevent a game over here, so I spill the beans. He seems to be most interested in anything pertaining to Kusnetsov, but I make special note of his reaction when I tell him that Kusnetsov and Agabekov don’t see eye to eye. He exclaims that Kusnetsov must be uncomfortable with such a brilliant and honest officer in his department. Combine this with what Greenberg said in my last post about the Cuban cigars, and I’m starting to get a feeling that Savinkov knows more about this whole case, and particularly Agabekov, than he’s letting on.

After I’m done, the major gives me a new camera, to replace the broken one. He then tells me to relax and rest up. Warning sign number two, if I am to believe Greenberg. Savinkov tells me he’lll try to be back at 1.30 today, and if he doesn’t return, I should go to the warehouse in the afternoon ( not very specific ) and report back at 10 am tomorrow. Just as he’s about to leave, and I think I’m in the clear, he returns and asks for Chapkin’s gun. Drat! I can’t figure out any way to convince him to let me keep it, so I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

After Savinkov leaves, I automatically go back to bed and sleep until 10.15 am. I’m supposed to meet Cut-throat at 10.30, but I’ve still got a body to take care of. If I try moving him out to the hallway, I’m discovered by the night porter, who’s up here for some reason. I also can’t dump him out the window, so I just put him in my closet for now and go down to the alley.

When in the alley, I wait until 10.30, but no sign of Cut-throat. Instead one of the homeless guys from yesterday shows up with a newspaper. He hints that I should really read that paper, but he won’t give it to me without something in return, even though I show my KGB ID and make angry faces at him. For some reason, the game won’t let me fight him either, which I guess is ok from an ethical perspective, but perhaps a tad unrealistic. Well, let’s give him something then. He won’t take my rubles, which is to be expected, but strangely, he also won’t take my dollars. In fact, the only thing he’ll accept is my new camera! But but…. I really really try finding other solutions, until I accidentally click the camera on something else and discover that there’s no film in it…. ( I’m going to go out on a limb here and just assume that most of you readers know roughly how cameras worked in 1991, like with needing film and stuff ). Seriously? Are they doing this on purpose? Anyway, I feel less bad about giving the bum my camera now.

Yeah, you’ll fool everybody

The newspaper contains a coded message ( that Rukov just decodes automagically ) that says to be at the phone booth in front of the hotel at 11.15. Well, that’s easy. I hop around the corner and wait. At exactly 11.15, the phone rings, and I pick up immediately. ( Even though I’m given the choice of waiting 2,3,4 or 5 rings. Not sure what’s up with that. I tried waiting 3 as well, but there was no discernable difference. ) It’s Cut-throat. He wants to know if I’ve learned anything about “New birth” and/or Viktor Matsnev. Even though both Wallace and Gromi… eh.. Greenberg gave me a little bit of info on them, I don’t have the option of passing this on to Cut-throat. I tell him about Viktor-the-boat-Matsnev, though. He tells me that he may have something on Yakuchev. Apparently he served in Afghanistan with Verto. Hmm… Agabekov also served in Afghanistan, same as Galushkin and Rukov’s father. We could be seeing the contours of a link here. We’ll see where this leads. Cut-throat expects to have Yakuchev’s address soon, after which he will forward it to me.

True to form, I get to ask some questions. He doesn’t provide me with much that I didn’t already know, but here’s a couple of noteworthy things:
  • Wallace is the female C.I.A. agent Cut-throat mentioned last night. She has now left for Helsinki. She is considered hostile by Cut-throat’s people. 
  • Greenberg is also a C.I.A. agent, but Cut-throat considers him useful. 
  • He considers my superiors’ attitude towards Kusnetsov misplaced. I take this to mean that either he’s not a bad guy, or that he’s insignificant. Conversely he is quite certain that Agabekov is the most likely source of corruption within the Leningrad KGB. 

I also ask him whether he thinks Chapkin sent the hired killers after me

I would, but his dead body kind of occupies my hotel room closet

At this point, I’m starting to feel like a messenger, just running around collecting and distributing information. I wish they all would just get a chatroom. Hmm… Was IRC a thing in 1991? ( After a bit of googling: Yes, it was created in Finland, in 1988 ). I’m not expecting it to end yet either, since my next stop is Ladoga park, to meet Greenberg again.

I arrive some time before noon, and wait until he appears. I still haven’t found out anything about Protopopov, and he doesn’t have much info for me this time, but he mentions that Yakuchev is part of a group or movement called Pamyat. It’s some sort of nationalist/fascist movement, which seems to rub Greenberg the wrong way. Before we part ways, he reminds me that I have a boat to catch, and we agree to meet at 7 tomorrow morning.

Side note: This game should really have included a calendar. If I hadn’t gathered all these screenshots for blogging purposes, I would never have remembered all the appointments.

After he leaves, Rukov takes over control and heads for quay 19, where Viktor Matsnev should be ready to depart at 2 pm. And with that, chapter 2 ends...

Sittin’ on the quay of the bay

Now, at first I felt that the start of a new chapter would be a natural place to end the post, but compared to 1 and 2, chapter 3 is very short, so I figured I might as well do it now. Also, this post would be a bit short if I stopped now.

I arrive at quay 19, where the fishing boat Viktor Matsnev is docked. Again, my inventory has been cleaned out, and I’m now left with nothing but my ID.

Arr, ye salty landlubbers and… ok, I don’t really speak “sailor”

If I try to board the ship from the front, a guard stops me and sends me back. Since I’m trying to be stealthy, I figure I’d better avoid him, and the only other way to get on the ship is to swim, so yeah... I swim.

Who knew the water would be so wet? At least my ID is laminated

I make my way around the ship and climb aboard from the other side. As I make it to the deck, I spot a crew member at the other end of the ship, and the game tells me he notices something and is starting to move in my direction. I quickly find some boxes to hide behind. As he appears, he talks to himself a bit, giving me a clue that he may be having a slight alcohol problem. Could be useful information for later. He doesn’t see me, so he returns to his position at the rear end of the ship, or stern, as Google informs me it’s called ( I’m not a boat person ). At my end, there’s a hatch with a staircase, so I go down there to find a radio room and a rest room with some bunk beds. I search them both, and the drawer below the bunk beds contain a bottle of rum, a belt, a swedish porn magazine ( yes, really ), some boots, a book and some socks that are not my size. I take it all. Cause you never know.

I go up the stairs again to the upper deck, and I suddenly get a message that two men are approaching from the quay. Quickly, I return to my hiding place behind the fish boxes.


Well well, if it isn’t Major Savinkov. Now what’s he up to, I wonder? Is it all part of his mission, going undercover? Or is it something more sinister? Of course, being a KGB agent, he decides to do a sweep of the perimeter, but luckily he doesn’t discover me. When he returns to the front of the boat, I can’t do much besides just wait. At 2.15, Obukov arrives as well. They talk for a bit, then Obukov goes downstairs. Major Savinkov performs a new search, this time with more purpose…

Well, technically your orders didn’t involve me NOT being here either.

Needless to say, this is a game ender. This is yet another section that requires some trial and error. Backtracking isn’t necessarily very useful, because it will often just let me backtrack to the point where I entered a room, unless that room has a clearly defined hazard, in which case I can sometimes backtrack further. Take this situation, for instance: I go down to the radio room, I’ll be safe for a while, but only until Obukov comes down, but if I try to go up before that, Savinkov will see me, and I can only backtrack to when I entered the radio room, which is not far enough.

I can always restart the chapter and just swim out to the boat again, but to save some time, I make a save point right after I climb aboard and dodge the crew member who came looking for me. I can’t stay in the same place when the major does his second search, and I can’t go down below deck on this side and stay there when Obukov comes aboard. It seems I’ll have to relocate prior to Savinkov’s arrival.

I can enter the steering cabin thingy in the middle, but the captain will come in after he and Savinkov are done talking, so that’s a no-go. My last option would be moving to the rear of the boat, but the crew member is still hanging out there. Then I remember his affinity for alcohol and the bottle of rum I found. I can’t give it to him directly, but I can toss it in the ocean on the side where he’s standing and staring into the water. It works! He dives in to retrieve the bottle, and I make my way aft ( I think I’m getting the hang of this boat lingo now ).

No more fish boxes for me

There’s a similar hatch here, leading down to an engine room, where there’s a closet in which I can hide. After a little while, the crew man, who turns out to be the ship’s mechanic, comes down, talking to himself and clutching his newly acquired bottle of rum like it’s been forged in the fires of Mount Doom. He seems to be insulted that someone has insinuated that he has a problem holding his liquor, though he hides it behind his back as Savinkov arrives and comes down for his inspection. He takes one look at the mechanic, then goes back up. Phew! I think I’m in the clear. Now it’s just a matter of waiting. After a little while, the mechanic gets the engine going and sits down to drink. After 20 minutes, he’s out like a light. Yeah, he’s great with alcohol...

I don't want to risk moving about on the ship yet, and there aren’t really any other places for me to go, so I just wait. Conveniently, the game takes over and speeds the progress of time until it’s suddenly 7 pm.

Ew! That’s gross… Wait, what? Oh, flapping!

A black rubber belt on the engine has broken, and the mechanic ( I’ve now learned that his name is Kapiton ) is still asleep. This could compromise my cover. Luckily I’ve been following the age-old adventure game tradition of picking up anything that isn’t bolted down, so I have a swedish porn magazine and….. no wait, even better! I have a belt in my inventory. I try using it on the engine, which works like a charm. It’s back to waiting in my super-uncomfortably looking closet.

At 9.30 I get a message that it’s become dark outside. I’m now free to move about the ship again. I go up and find my old hiding place behind the fish boxes. And wait.

At 10.00 Kapiton comes up to vomit, then goes back down again… I wait some more.

At 12 everybody gathers at the front deck. Savinkov tells the others to look for a yellow light. It seems the deal is about to go down. Obukov spots it first, and after a little while, another boat approaches, and a familiar person comes aboard...

Wallace! I knew there was something fishy about her.

What the…? A casket full of crack..? Or something else? They carry everything downstairs, then the captain and the mechanic go back to the cabin and engine room, respectively. I take my chances and go down to the radio room. The suitcases and the large crate are here, but everyone seems to have gone into the resting room. There’s a blue suitcase and a black one, and I pick them both up and check out their contents. They both contain a pack of some white looking crystals. Upon closer inspection, I see that one of them just contains regular sea salt. I reckon I probably shouldn’t remove them, or my cover is likely to be blown, but I can’t resist having a little bit of fun with it. I swap the packs and put them both in the opposite suitcase to where I found them, then put the suitcases back. Rukov estimates the large crate to weigh around 200 pounds, and it has the words “New birth” written on the side.

The game tells me I can hear voices coming from the resting room, but I can’t quite make out what they say. It’s time to try out the “Listen” action. I think this is actually the only time in the game I’ve had to use it, but there are probably other places where it could have been helpful. By listening at the door, I can hear Savinkov’s voice.

Ok, what did I put in the black case again…?

Besides Obukov, Wallace and Savinkov will deal with the crack and take the crate to someone called Tsibulenko for … final programming. Whatever that means. At 9 am, the fourth member of their group will go and pick up something they refer to as “the package” and transport this to its ultimate destination.

Savinkov announces that he’s going to check upstairs again. I quickly relocate to my hiding place behind the fish boxes up on deck. When I click “Wait”, time skips ahead again, this time all the way to 5 am. Everyone gathers on deck again, looking for a new light. A small dinghy comes up to us, and they lower the crate and the blue case onto it. Savinkov and Wallace then climb down into it and take off. I wait again, this time until around 6.30, when the game informs me that in a few minutes, it will be too bright to move around on deck unseen. If I stay hidden at the front, I’m discovered by Obukov and the captain somehow, when daylight is upon us, so I move to the back of the boat and hide behind the fish boxes there. And wait.

At 7.30 we’re back and heading into quay 19 again, and the game tells me this might be a good time to take my leave. Well, game, you’re the boss. I dive into the sea and swim the rest of the way. In my leather jacket and denim pants. And that’s the end of chapter 3!

Side note: After Savinkov leaves, I can go down and grab the black suitcase. If I swapped the contents earlier, this will now have the real crack. Whether I do this or not, I start chapter 4 with nothing but my ID, so either it gets lost when I swim, or… I don’t know… Anyway it’s been clear that not many people in this game can be trusted. I’m excited to find out how this will all play out during the last chapter.


  1. "Guess who found the chainsaw fuel"

    Was that a Maniac Mansion reference?

  2. "Mechulaiev was working on a deal to export snuff movies from Moscow and import crack from Helsinki, Finland (Ilmari, did you know about this?!)."

    Hey, it couldn't be me, I was a wee lad, when Gorbachev was in lead :P

    Seriously put, I have no idea whether this is historically accurate, but I'd guess Finland was the primary source for all sorts of Western influences coming in Russia, good or bad.

    1. Perhaps. I wouldn't know either.

      I went to Google maps to check how close Leningrad ( now St Petersburg ) and Helsinki are, and it looks to me as if this could be a perfectly realistic example of this kind of smuggling operation.

    2. Here's a collection of posts discussing the realism of the game, with lots of input from actual Russians that lived through this era.

      Contains spoilers for the endgame, so I'd advise against reaing it yet.

    3. Thanks for that Adamant.

      I'm not playing so I can read it now, and what I've read so far is fascinating


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