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The game is set in the imagined future of 2008, where the Russian military is conducting secret scientific experiments in cities such as the titular Gorky 17. Gorky 17 was destroyed in a cover-up operation, as the Russians claimed that it was merely a site for spy training. NATO intelligence discovered that the city was probably destroyed because of an outbreak of rampaging human hybrids. The game is set in another Russian base near the Polish city of Lubin. The first NATO team sent to investigate has disappeared and it is the duty of the protagonist Cole Sullivan and his squad to discover their whereabouts and learn more about the situation.
Gorky 17 is a hybrid of the RPG, adventure, and strategy genres. Out of combat, the game resembles an adventure game. The player uses a 'point-and-click' interface to navigate and explore the environment. The player can discover weapons, ammunition, quest items as well as NPCs that the player can talk to or recruit. Combat in Gorky 17 is turn-based and movement takes place on a tiled grid. The player controls a three-man squad as well as NPCs that can join the party in combat. Each character can move a certain number of tiles as well as perform one action a turn. Each character gains experience to increase stats as well as gaining weapon skill for using a particular weapon. The player must try to preserve scarce ammunition and healing supplies, as well as use the environment to fullest effect, to perform well in battle.
Gorky 17 has been re-released on GOG.com for $5.99 and Steam for $4.99