Chernobylite is a fast-paced and atmospheric open world survival game, where you have to explore the abandoned cities and facilities of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. With a combat system taking inspiration from games like Fallout and The Last of Us, you must survive the dangers of the Zone, while searching for resources, crafting new items and creating a camp for yourself.

Chernobylite is a graphic adventure game about a man who loses his memory and wakes up in a strange abandoned town. He’s been there for over a month, with no idea why. Fearing for his life, he tries to find out the truth about his unknown past.

The Chernobylite has stalked man since before the first game, the deadly brand of videogame that offered players a chance to live as cleverly as possible in the post apocalypse. Now, the Chernobylite is back and it is stalking the world once again during a time of war and dangerous conspiracies. It lends itself to the same techniques used by stalkers and hackers to take advantage of the unaware and the unsuspecting. It is the essence of a cult, but that only lends itself to believe that it is possible to survive.

I recently quipped that if a game includes creeping about in thick grass, I’m incapable of rating a game lower than a 7/10. It’s a mechanism that I always like, and it’s one that, when evaluating games, has a tendency to establish a metaphorical floor for me.

This hypothesis is debunked by Chernobylite. It’s not a terrible game, but it’s very unbalanced. It has a lot of creative and thrilling moments. It’s boring and repetitious at its worst.

It throws these scenarios at you in about equal amounts, resulting in a game that falls somewhere in the mushy center of its genre, yet, like The Farm 51’s previous effort, Get Even, its strangeness is sometimes delightful.

Stalking Simulator: Chernobylite Review

The narrative of Chernobylite, a first-person survival-shooter RPG, begins swiftly and branches out in many ways before you can even gain your bearings. You’ll be concerned with a variety of story strands as a scientist called Igor investigating the remains of the Chernobyl catastrophe in the years after the nuclear plant meltdown.

One of the most important is to locate your love, Tatyana, who went missing after the catastrophe but has been appearing in your dreams, causing you to think she is still alive. You’ll also have to deal with the NAR, a vicious mercenary organization that has set up shop amid the same ruins for unknown reasons. 

While the big picture involves solving a spacetime riddle involving the eponymous emergent energy resource, your day-to-day is more akin to a survival game.

Managing your health, radiation exposure, and your psychology may need the use of conflicting treatments, such as your radiation medication damaging your psyche. Meanwhile, scavenging one of many maps at a rate of one level each in-game day means you’ll need a gameplan every time Igor raises his head off the pillow, or you’ll risk returning home unprepared for another night.

Chernobylite mission select screen showing available quests and recruits.

You can only complete one task each day, and although you should concentrate on the main storyline most days, you may postpone it if you wish to investigate side missions or scavenge. As you add more people to your party, you’ll be able to assign them additional jobs, increasing the amount of vital survival and crafting supplies you have at your home base.

This is the most beautiful area in Chernobyl. You start with a very blank slate of a factory overlooking Ground Zero, and you may design what goes where and how it looks in a manner reminiscent of previous Fallout games. Except for certain separating walls, you can’t build new buildings, but you may design your own post-apocalyptic home like a strange Sims DLC with lots of crafting stations and creature comforts.

With a portable gadget that displays resources in each radioactive woodland or jumble of fallen concrete, the game makes locating supplies relatively easy. As a result, if you put in the time and work, you may create a strong foundation in your image.

It may be risky at times, such as when your squad expands and you have to ration food unequally, but it keeps the focus on scavenging and team management fresh, even giving friends a loyalty system where they can succeed, fail, vanish, or even die in virtually every mission.

The base crafting menu in Chernobylite, showing the air purifier recipe and base stats.

Between story levels, Chernobylite is at its finest, when you’re teaching your friends to acquire new abilities, constructing them their own beds, manufacturing lockpicks and ammunition for the following day, and recuperating up from one obstacle before confronting another.

Unfortunately, missions that repeat themselves over the course of the game’s 30 hours or so let it down. Even though you’ll have new goals, a complete campaign run will see you return to the game’s many centers several times, meaning you’ll be retreading the same areas. 

Those regions all have a similar vibe to them, and enemy encounters are few and few between. It should be more thrilling than it is to sneak through the forest with just enough ammunition to take out a few opponents if stealth fails, but in reality, it becomes much too simple to crouch up behind adversaries and choke them out one by one until you can freely explore and loot. 

This could’ve been a highlight if the game’s supernatural creatures were stronger or smarter, but even they can be easily avoided, making their growls just clock bells of impending minor annoyances rather than harbingers of a suspenseful confrontation.

The game is excellent at best when battle erupts in gunplay, but I thought it to be appropriate for the setting. Your firearms are basically trash that has been recycled. You’re a scientist first and foremost, and you’re supposed to operate with very little. Weapon sway, aiming, and recoil never feel fantastic, but they do seem oddly gratifying as a consequence, though I’m not sure whether this was done on purpose or not.

First-person view of Igor aiming down the sight of a gun, toward an enemy soldier.

Each level seems to have the same set of challenges. Missions aren’t varied enough to throw you off your game if you pack three or so lockpicks, load up on ammunition as best you can, and complete your training routines when they become available. It makes loading out very repetitive, which is a shame given how much fun it is to begin with to build up your base.

I got glimpses of the game’s finest parts the few times I entered an area without what I needed: finding myself irradiated, wounded, and terrified all at once, with no simple way out – screwed, in other words.

Interpersonal dynamics may also be aggravating in that if you irritate any of the party members too much, they will abandon you, apparently with no other option. This may compel you to make significant choices in the story’s branching storyline. You’ll be compelled to do their bidding or say goodbye if you’re on thin ice with one character and their mission request goes against what you believe is correct.

To be fair, there’s a fine line to walk between realistically balancing your allies and this system, which becomes cumbersome in the late game, and the game does employ an innovative system that allows you to change any decision you made in the past whenever you die, effectively loading a saved game you didn’t earn.

Still, it’s more of a fun narrative disentanglement exercise. When you alter history in this manner, it doesn’t seem earned or gratifying; it’s simply fascinating on a mechanical level.

Dreamlike sequences, which play out almost like drama as you stroll through experiences you weren’t there for, are spliced into this gadget, which already has a lot of moving components. It has a cinematic flair similar to The Farm 51’s previous game, Get Even, although it seems more like narrative dumps that tell rather than show.

Review of Chernobyl — The Bottom Line

Two soldiers in camouflage looking toward a powerplant at night.

Pros

  • Building a base and creating items are both difficult and enjoyable.
  • Characters may be built in a variety of disciplines alongside your friends, allowing for unique character builds.
  • Scraping by on a daily basis is enjoyable and keeps you on your toes.

Cons

  • The levels and goals seem to be too identical.
  • Most of the time, there aren’t enough opponents.
  • Managing group happiness often pits participants against their personal desires.

Despite its faults, Chernobylite seems to be on the verge of becoming a cult masterpiece. Chernobylite is nothing if not daring. Troubled but adventurous games are frequently the topic of tiny but fervent fanbases, and Chernobylite is nothing if not daring.

Several of those wagers fail to pay off in the end, but the trip is usually strange, though not necessarily thrilling.

[Note: Chernobylite was supplied by The Farm 51 for this review.]
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