The stealth genre is one that's often hard to get right in a game. It has to have a balance of patience and action, combat and hiding, and – most importantly – it has to be open and varied. Somehow, Alekhine's Gun fails at all of these things, missing the mark more than a Stormtrooper after drinking five cans of Red Bull.
Set during the early days of World War II up until the height of the Cold War, you play as KGB agent… We're not really sure actually, since the story seems to take a back-seat despite the fascinating time period, and every character model appears to have the same square jaw – irrespective of uniform. The first impression you'll most likely get from this release is how lazy it is; it's a bare-bones stealth game where there's often only one or two ways to kill your target – and neither of them are satisfying.
Actually, scratch that – the developer appears to have put a lot of effort into one thing, and that's ensuring that every player is given an awful headache. Not only are the graphics extremely dated, but it seems that little to no thought has been put into testing the game: shadows appear in and out of nowhere, textures flicker horribly, and every character model has a horrible, messy white outline around them. This game has a vendetta against your eyes is what we're saying.
The framerate is absolute garbage, too, with even the slightest move of the camera plunging the game into a laggy mess. In fact, upon starting Alekhine's Gun, you'll notice that even the developer's logo churns and lags like it's being transmitted via dial-up. Playing through most missions is a chore thanks to these technical problems.
The animations are the mouldy cherry on the top of this broken mess of a cake: simple moves like picking up a gun or putting an enemy into a wardrobe are animated as fluidly as a frozen river, but at least they're actually animated. Putting on a new uniform, picking an enemy up from a hiding place, and even dying aren't even shown, the latter action being especially hilarious – your super-spy spawning on the ground, holding an extended arm in the air in a desperate attempt to pass off as a Nazi guard before he's killed. What's more, pausing in the middle of some animations will crash the game, meaning that you'll have to start levels all over again due to the lack of autosave. It's 2016.
This bug is even more annoying considering how boring and slow the gameplay is in general. There's a fine line between waiting for the right opportunity and having to hibernate until it presents itself, and Alekhine's Gun is firmly on the latter side – enemy patrols are painfully slow, and you'll often get screwed over from one guard having eagle-eye vision and spotting you from a mile away, forcing you to start again.
There are, admittedly, some attempts at making this game a contender to the Hitman series – though it ultimately fails, big time. You're given multiple objectives per mission which you can play through in whichever order you like – a rare ounce of freedom that the game severely lacks – and the Instinct mode is a nice mechanic, showing a circle on your screen with colour-coded blips representing the actions that your enemies are performing. The creativity buck stops there, however.
Alekhine's Gun lags behind in the AI department: you can walk up to some foes, punch them in the face, and they'll still take a few seconds to discover that you're an enemy. The bad animations don't help either – at one point, we stood guard at a guardhouse in order to blend in, and another guard stood in front of us, flailing his arms about and making us think that we'd been spotted. It turns out he was saluting, but anyone would be forgiven for thinking that the guard was raising the alarm.
And God help you if you get spotted, because the gunplay isn't good at all, the over-sensitive controls making it nigh-on impossible to aim at your enemies. Every gunfight is a mixture of spray-and-pray and horrible, ear-splitting sounds that are supposedly emanating from a gun but better resemble a wet fart mixed with a chainsaw going through a wood chipper.
It's not like the stealth combat is any better either, with badly-animated (the buzzword of this game) punches, garrotte wire, and chloroform comprising the only real options of killing your targets. There's no environmental hazards to take advantage of, no hidden ways to take down your enemies, just the usual 'get a uniform, kill the target' boredom that wears thin after an hour or two.
Alekhine's Gun's amateurish animation, godawful gameplay, faulty framerate, abysmal AI, and garish graphics all conspire to ensure that you'll never, ever enjoy playing this game. There's no variety or originality, and it's more bug-ridden than an abandoned sandwich – it seems that testing wasn't given much consideration during development. This title is one of a very rare breed, one that will appeal to absolutely no one, and buying it would quite literally be akin to throwing your money away. Simply put, we can Nazi anyone having fun with this.