The game features two modes: In the real-time 'exploration' mode, the player controls game characters using a mouse in a point-and-click manner to navigate the player characters through the city as well as interacting with various objects in the game world. Combat takes place in preset encounters located in specific areas of each level map. In the combat mode, the screen is divided into squares with player and computer-controlled characters taking turns trying to eliminate the opposing party. In one turn each game character can move by a certain number of squares and use a weapon once, or decide to take cover instead. Weapons have different tactical effects, for example the pistol can only be fired orthogonally, while the rifle can be fired orthogonally and diagonally. The game ends if any player-controlled character dies.
The player commands a small group of NATO soldiers who must reveal the mystery behind the sudden appearance of hybrid creatures in a former Soviet military base at a small Polish town near Lubin. The area is surrounded by NATO troops and media from all over the world, and the first group sent into town disappears without a trace. The main hero of the story is the 40-year-old Canadian soldier Cole Sullivan, a commando team member with extensive scientific knowledge. His team's task is to explain the hybrids' presence and to find the missing members of Group One.
IGN rated the Windows version of Gorky 17 as "decent", highlighting the mix of turn-based strategy, adventure and RPG genres. Graphically, "the environments themselves are nicely drawn, character animations are very fluid, and the atmosphere presented is ultimately quite captivating." Criticisms included the lack of a line-of-sight mechanic and some interface flaws.
Gorky Zero: Beyond Honor is a third-person isometric stealth action game. The story serves as a prequel to Gorky 17. The game was published in North America and the United Kingdom by JoWooD Entertainment.
Gorky Zero 2: Aurora Watching is a third-person stealth action game, and a sequel to Gorky 17. The game was published in North America by Dreamcatcher Interactive as Soldier Elite, and in Europe by Enlight Software as Aurora Watching. The English translation ignores all ties to the previous Gorky titles, for example changing the protagonist's name from Cole Sullivan to White Fox. The English language story concerns the protagonist infiltrating a secret Russian base where scientists are developing enhanced human soldiers called "Crazy Ivans".