From Russia with Love (Great Games from the Eastern Bloc)


1C publishes most Eastern Block games these days. 
I love games that come out of Eastern Europe and Russia. If "Eastern Bloc" was a proper genre I would probably declare it as my favorite. So why the fasicination? I guess I just really like the cerebral and difficult nature of games from that part of the world. They also tend to make exclusively PC games for the simple reason that consoles don't seem to be common in that part of the world.
 
Mostly though I just love that games from that region are a little odd. They always have fairly unique storylines and although the voice-acting and stability are usually in question, they tend to be extremely ambitious games that take on way more then they are capable of achieving. I also love that most Eastern Bloc games use homebrew engines that for the most part tend to rival a year agos technology from major development houses in the US. 
 
In cinema I often refer to one of my favorite genres being "flawed epics", which encompass long movies that are huge in scope and all over the place in pacing. I think that tends to match well with this list of games. 
 
Really though, the reason I loved all of these games is because I had no fucking clue any of them were coming out. As someone who has been involved in professional game website building for over a decade that's a pretty rare feat. Almost all of these games had very little marketing campaigns and became a success based on word of mouth user reviews alone.

List items

33 Comments
Posted by MatthewMeadows

You're crazy.

Posted by snide
@MatthewMeadows: Crazy like a fox?
Edited by MattyFTM

I do agree that great games can come out of that part of the world, but there have been some terrible ones too. It's hard to accept that a game with such an awesome trailer could be so bad.
 
(also, why are links white in the comments? Shouldn't they be yellow like on the rest of the site? Being the same colour as the text is confusing)

Moderator
Posted by raidingkvatch

Man, you PC gaming types scare me

Posted by eroticfishcake

Nice list. I approve!

Posted by Jimbo

The Witcher?

Posted by LordAndrew
@MattyFTM: They're white because you have a PC alignment, and the colour of a PC alignment is white. Perhaps something should be done about that, as I didn't realize you even had links in your post until you mentioned it.
Posted by buzz_killington

Fuck yeah, Serious Sam is the best example of Eastern European development with its awesome:

1- Ahead of time technology

2- Archaic gameply

3- Crazy shit.

Posted by JackiJinx

Dude, I had no idea that the HoMM/MM series and KB were from Russia. That blows my mind. All this time, I've been playing Commie games.

Posted by Mikl

You're right about Mount and blade that game's like crack, man.
Posted by MatthewMeadows
@snide said:
" @MatthewMeadows: Crazy like a fox? "
No, crazy like someone who would make a list of his top 10 Eastern Bloc games almost strictly from countries which opposed the US in the Cold War. 
 
Love ya really Snide, fight the power.
Posted by ArbitraryWater
@JackiJinx said:
" Dude, I had no idea that the HoMM/MM series and KB were from Russia. That blows my mind. All this time, I've been playing Commie games. "
Actually, only Heroes V is communist-developed. New World Computing (who made the old games), went out of business in 2003 and Ubisoft scooped up the license in the ensuing wake.
 
They then relegated the development duties of Heroes V to Nival Interactive, a ruski developer, and they managed to prove how Russian they were by shipping the game with a bunch of bugs, unplayable online multiplayer, and no map editor. Seriously, Heroes III is better.
Online
Posted by JackiJinx
@ArbitraryWater: So, wait. In that case, the only Russian game I've knowingly played is King's Bounty, which is a more thorough remake of an older game. I almost feel lied to D= 
 
And dude, HoMM III is totally boss, though you gotta like II, too. You're not a true fan if you don't. That, and MM VII. So many good/bad times trying to go through the "evil" realm as the good folk, just to die instantaneously without a chance. Always paid to be the evil dudes in that game.
Posted by Smersh

S.T.A.L.K.E.R is awesome, the setting is so gritty you feel dirty after playing it. 
I'd love to see it ported to the 360 with a touch of TLC. 
And yes, i know this will never happen. 
Nice list Snide!

Posted by sealog444

 
I really really like nexus jupiter incident, really a good solid game.  I really just have a thing for that genre though, I like rts style space games that are really good.  I especially like the ability to customize your ship, though that was a really cool feature. my two favorites are this and homeworld franchise (didnt like catalsym though, game just felt way too gamey, not enough story) so maybe im biased.

Posted by Crocio

Stalker was developed in Ukraine, not Russia.

Posted by SaucySala

Man, Mount & Blade sucked up SOOO much of my time. Like there was a good 3 weeks where I played it constantly.

Posted by Quater

No "Pathologic" or "The Void" (also known as "Tension") = Instant Fail. Ice Pick Lodge is by far the weirdest and most Russian of all game developers. I demand that you play their games instantly. They're so bizarre and difficult to get your head around that I don't think more than three people in the world have ever actually played them to completion. Also, "The Witcher". YOUR LIST OF YOUR OWN FAVOURITES IS WRONG.

Posted by FrostyHerpiez

Man i just finished downloading Majesty 2, off of steam  and its doesnt work...... IN Soviet russia GAMES BREAK U!
Posted by BaconGames
@Crocio said:
" Stalker was developed in Ukraine, not Russia. "
I'm pretty sure this is true.
 
The Witcher and The Void are bigger name ones that I would be curious to see what you think of them.  More so The Void.
 
Now that Call of Pripyat is out, I can't wait to see Dave thinks of it.
Posted by R_Coles

@Tuffgong:
Agreed, we need a Call of Pripyat quicklook...

Edited by Ghostiet
@Jimbo said:

" The Witcher? "

It's Polish. Poland is not a part of the Eastern Bloc.

I can tell that, I fucking live there.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

Due for an update?

Edited by ahoodedfigure
@Ghostiet: Since a Turkish game's on this list, I think he could expand it.  He says Eastern Bloc, though, which is a cold war term that unfortunately included Poland, at least as far as Cold War language was concerned.  Doesn't mean you have to agree with it, though, I guess.
Posted by Ghostiet

@ahoodedfigure: Yeah, I know, I'm familiar with the term. I'm just kinda psyched about pointing out at every point that Poland is, for example, geographically in Central Europe (general knowledge of my country in the US is seriously killing me, it could be compared to a bunch of frat boys on a nuclear plant), so I was quicker with my fingers than my thinking. I should've edited that when I realised my mistake, but I forgot.

Posted by HaroldoNVU
Posted by EliminatoR

Amin.I'm from Eastern Europe myself,Romania (aka Blazing Angels and Silent Hunter)
Posted by YukoAsho

Actually, S.T.A.L.K.E.R comes from a Ukrainian developer (GSC Game World is based in Kiev).  Still, great example of the old Soviet republics' ability to make great games.
 
As to the comparison with FO3, I love them both, but they offer something very, very different.  FO3 is more light-hearted and can be played at a brisker pace, whereas S.TA.L.K.E.R is among the most grim, serious games I've ever played, and it's the sort of game that has to be played at a snail's pace because moving too fast at any point will end up with your brains all over the floor.  The reason it's misunderstood and under-appreciated is the buggy initial relelase that was never really fixed until the fan-made Complete mod came out, but most problematic is the game's dated look.  They spent a TON of time making the game, and it shows in the atmospheric, haunting world.  However, it also shows in the graphics engine looking dated even for the time.  Never bothered me, but you know how so many people are graphics whores these days.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

Wondering if Precursor would make this list

Posted by Krystal_Sackful

You should totally play more Mount and Blade Warband. Its some rad shit.

Posted by Thoseposers

Holy crap Nexus was from Hungary? I got that game at Goodwill and only got a couple missions in. That game was so crazy from what i could tell

Posted by VincentVendetta

Update?

Posted by BitterAlmond

@HaroldoNVU said:

Great list! I suggest adding Machinarium which was developed by the Czech studio Amanita Design and released last year.

I second a call for Machinarium.

@Ghostiet said:

@Jimbo said:

" The Witcher? "

It's Polish. Poland is not a part of the Eastern Bloc.

I can tell that, I fucking live there.

The Witcher has quite a bit of that eastern-european feel, though. If you told me it either came from Russia or the UK and made me guess, I'd guess Russia.

I'd like to put a word in for the little-known Hammerfight. The game is brutal, but once you get the hang of it it gets very addictive.