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Chernobylite Review
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Chernobylite Review

Radiation, monsters, sci-fi, and evil dolls.

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Let’s visit the ghost town of Prypiat Ukraine and get started on this Chernobylite review.

What is Chernobylite?

Chernobylite is a survival horror with an emphasis on survival. You play as Igor Khymynyuk, a nuclear physicist who worked at the Chernobyl power plant on the day the nuclear reactor exploded. You survived.Chernobylite trailer

Your main goal in Chernobylite is to get into the Power Plant and figure out what happened to your fiance Tatyana on that day. In order to do that you will need to build up a home base, gather a team of companions, and get more information about the Chernobylite disaster that happened 30 years ago.

Who Makes Chernobylite?

The Farm logoCherynobylite is made by Polish developer Farm 51. They are a small group who have previously made games like Get Even and Painkiller. They also previously worked on a VR project called “Chernobyl VR Project” (which I also highly suggest you check out).

Chernobylite is set in the former Soviet Union, in the city of Pripyat – the actual location of the Chernobyl disaster that happened in real life. Members of the Farm 51 remember the day the disaster happened. They wanted to bring the story of Chernobyl to life. Chernobylite the game, takes place in the nuclear fallout exclusion zone surrounding this area.

Chernobylite was a successful Kickstarter from 2019 which raised over $200,000.

Chernobyl brought to life. No Really.

Now would be a really good time to talk about the absolute amazing feat that Farm 51 has accomplished with Chernobylite’s historically accurate location brought into a video game. The team actually went to Chernobyl, dealt with insane working conditions and radiation, and used various modern video techniques to create an actual REAL, 3D visual representation of Chernobyl.

Chernobylite Team

How? They used photogrammetry. This is a popular technique in VR games but is not utilized enough in non-VR games. Photogrammetry basically means stitching together thousands of photos and other data to create 3D models. Farm 51 used photogrammetry to bring you a completely accurate representation of a place few people on earth have been to – Chernobyl.

I can’t stress enough how impressive, eerie, and haunting it is to see these locations that are real-life abandoned places show up in-game completely accurately. I’ve included some images here so you can see exactly what I mean. It might be hard to tell what is from the game and what is real. Truly outstanding work and I wanted to highlight it here before we get into it.

On to the Chernobylite review…..

A Day in the Life of a Stalker

Each day in Chernobylite goes through the same experience. You wake in your warehouse. You will go up to the command center area. Along the way, the radio or your companions will inform you of a potentially important event happening in the excursion zone. You then have to assign yourself and your companions to the various quests you have available.

Daily Missions

You will then start your daily mission at the quest location you picked. There are six main different locations that you will visit over the course of Chernobylite. Moscow Eye, Red Forest, Pripyat Port, Kopachi, Pripyat Central, and Your Warehouse base. Again, all of these are REAL locations in the excursion zone.

Like most open-world games,  you can go wherever you want and do whatever you want. There are countless buildings on the map that are not important to main missions that you can go and explore. Many will have secrets. There will be supplies pretty much everywhere for you to gather. There are also NPCs to meet and trade with. The main idea is to be targeting the green question marks on the map. These will be important locations that have some kind of event that will progress the story along somehow.

Each location does not stay the same throughout the entire experience though. Although the map layout is the same, the more decisions you make, the more hazards will appear. This allows a natural leveling and difficulty increase. For example, an area you could walk through before will have more radiation in it the next time you visit and will now be non-accessible, monsters will spawn in certain spots, and more NAR soldiers will be doing a lot more patrols.

As the layout of the map remains the same and you will get familiar with traveling around them. This isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. It still is difficult to navigate the rough terrain and figure out how to get where you need to be going. Sometimes almost too much. I would occasionally get stuck on a tree on the ground or in some barely visible rocks. There is almost a puzzle-solving element to try and figure out how to get to that question mark location you need to be getting to. Sometimes having to think outside the box and what might be a different way of getting up to the next floor or rock ledge.Chernobylite Enemies

When you encounter an enemy, you have a choice of running away, using stealth to kill them, or attacking with guns. Each playstyle has different equipment and risks. Frequently you will be overwhelmed by attackers. The top right corner of the screen will show if you are still in the line of sight and they are actively attacking you. If you get away, eventually they will turn to search mode. This can be quite a long time. If you have no health, are almost dead, and have no healing – that 2 minute + countdown is a long time. Frequently they will find you.

Although combat is included in the game it is not the core point in my opinion. I found stealth kills if needed and avoiding confrontation altogether much more effective.

When you are done with the daily mission and exploring, you get Igor to pull out your trusty portal gun and teleport back to the main base no matter where you are.

Evening Building, Training and Upgrading

Back in the base, you start the evening part of your day. You will see who was successful with their mission and what resources they gathered. This is also where you will do food distribution. Food distribution is more choices about who you want to reward. Does everybody get equal treatment? What if you are low on food because you’ve failed a few times? Decisions will need to be made. Depending on the choices you pick the characters will be affected.

After food distribution, you then have the ability to improve your base, weapons, and armor. Don’t forget about doing this on your companions too. There is an entire base building and crafting experience here very similar to Fallout 4.

You can spend a lot of time making a home or just drop items wherever. You will want to keep focusing on improving your base with machines that cause you to “level up”. This unlocks new items, weapons, and upgrades. Without spending time on this, you will start having a very difficult time on your daily quests.

Training is also done during the evening. Any companions who have joined your team will offer training for the various skill points you receive from leveling up. These skills can be things like sneaking better, using weapons better, or inventory spots.

Finally, you will head to your room for the night and there you probably want to take a moment to browse the clues that you have gathered in the mystery so far. If you have enough clues you get to enter a virtual reality world that shows you the past. If you don’t have enough clues for the night you will go to sleep. Rinse and repeat this over and over again hopefully progressing along in the story each night.

Interesting Game Mechanics

For far too long video games have used certain things to add “challenge” to the game you are playing. Move extremely slowly, make saving difficult, or resources you need are very difficult to find.  Chernobylite does not use the game itself as a challenge. You can run as much as you want (although you will hear Igor panting), save pretty much any time, and resources are just a scan away.

Scan your way to resources?

Your handheld scanner. Not only does this tell you when you’re walking into a radioactive area. (There are surprise..many) but it also allows you to scan the immediate area around you and find items that you will need to pick up to build in your base and survive. I found this to be an extremely good game mechanic.

It created an open-world environment and allowed me to choose which item I was targeting on my scanner and focus on those in the area. Low on much-needed healing herbs? I wasn’t aimlessly wandering around trying to magically find the items. I got into a habit of loading up a world, pulling out my scanner, and scanning constantly. I was constantly picking things up and hunting for them. The choice is yours though. You get to pick how you want to play Chernobylite and there are many choices.

All about choices…

Another one of the core parts of Chernobylite is choosing how to deal with your companions. Your companions all are extremely eccentric characters with very unique and different personalities.chernobylite team

As you progress through the game, you will be presented with core decisions that impact future events. Your companions will pipe up and let you know exactly how they feel about the decision you’re going to make. The interesting part of this is that with almost every decision you will make someone happy and someone else quite upset. Of course, you also will have your own individual opinion on what you want to do and how YOU want to play the game.

This presents an interesting decision for you. Do you choose something that might go against what YOU want to do because it might upset a specific companion? If a companion becomes too upset they will leave your company and you need to keep all these people together to have your best shot at rescuing Tatiana and completing the heist. Some of these decisions I made haunted me because I felt they were the wrong decisions as I tried to appease a companion. It was an interesting experience for a video game.

How about a Do-Over?

Don’t fret though. The developers have given you another amazing mechanic that allows you to not have to replay the entire game again to experience things differently. Because the game is set in a very sci-fi futuristic world you have the ability to switch the key moments and choices you make at will. Well at the cost of some materials you collect and after you die of course. 🙂

If there is a decision that you feel very strongly you might have “got wrong”, with a few steps and resources, you can go back in time and change any major decision. It’s a delicate dance to keep all these eccentric personalities living together in one tiny warehouse. This “do-over memory” makes it a challenge in the story itself, not things like movement, or how far away the save point is.

Death in Chernobylite

What happens when you die in Chernobylite? If you die on a quest, you will fail that quest for the day. You can do it again tomorrow but need to then play out the death experience depending on how you die.

You can avoid death on each trip by creating an adrenaline shot. I highly recommend having an adrenaline shot at all times to allow you to escape a bad situation. You will get caught in many.

There are basically 3 ways to die in Chernobylite – Killed by NAR soldiers, monsters, everything else (falling, radiation, etc).

If the NAR is the ones who kill you, you will be taken prisoner back to their prison compound. Eventually, you will escape and this allows you to work through the base and try to get your gear back. You can also do certain actions in the game that will allow you to get your stuff back right away and get out of there.

Although this prison section is not very difficult, it is annoying that you didn’t finish your last mission, and that you have to navigate through this base, spending more time to just be right back where you were that morning. I became much more careful as I moved through the game realizing that death just “wasted my time”.

If the NAR is not what kills you, (Monsters and everything else) you will be transported to the choice-making world. Unfortunately, you will also lose several random items that you were carrying. Maybe even that gun you spent all the time putting all the upgrades on that killed absolutely everything because you put so much into it. Make sure you have an adrenaline shot so you don’t lose that gun. Trust me. 😉 Also of note, in the late game at some point, you might want to go here without dying in-game and losing items, so there is a base-building item for that purpose.

If you find yourself dying a lot you probably need to upgrade your weapons and armor. In order to do that you need to have gathered a lot of resources. Spend time on leveling up, and upgrading Igor.

Voice Acting

The game starts with Russian voice acting and English subs. You can switch to English voice acting if you prefer. I played a little of both types. The voice acting was something else. It was extremely well done especially for Tatiana. There is one scene where this lovely, nice, reassuring woman is suddenly dark for a moment. Holy crow I got serious chills hearing this angelic voice switch to pure evil. It was movie-level impressive.

There are thousands of unique lines of dialogue, with only a few repeats of lines, during random encounters of soldiers. But even this, the soldiers have comedic lines, humming random songs as they walk and different personalities. It’s small touches like this that really bring another level to the game.

Graphics

I’ve already spent a fair chunk of time on the graphics and the technology used but wanted to mention one other thing in this area. They are truly haunting.

All of the companions are wearing gas masks. They have a small picture of their face at the bottom where the subtitles are. But when they’re talking we don’t have to see complicated mouth-moving animations because well, they have a gas mask on. At no point did that bother me because I looked at their picture in the subtitles. It was pretty funny when I realized I never had seen their faces except in this tiny picture but I knew each of them quite well.

Who will enjoy Chernobylite?

The game is classified as a survival horror,  but there really are so many different genres mixed into this game though. RPG, adventure, base building, action, roguelike. Truly. What’s absolutely astonishing about Chernobylite is that they somehow pull this off. Not only does it work, but it is also a truly phenomenal experience with each choice, you make playing off others.

There are quite a few game influencers here including Fallout, Dishonored, Silent Hill, and of course also set in Cherynobl – Stalker. Members of Farm 51 come from the Stalker game development team so the influence is felt here. If you like any of these games you will like Cherynbolite.

No Bugs. NO BUGS!!!

I did not come across any bugs through my entire playthrough. I cannot stress enough how absolutely amazing this is. I review a lot of video games and without fail there are usually some pretty major flaws, glitches, or problems. Especially on the first release.  I found none in Chernobylite.

That probably has something to do with the fact that they’ve had it in beta for well over a year with constant slow releases. People have been playtesting the whole time, pointing out bugs and issues that get fixed before this final release. Obviously, this model works and I hope more companies take note and follow it in the future.

Video Version of the Review

I’m trying out a video version of this review. Give me a like and subscribe and things.. and be nice 🙂

 

Final thoughts on Chernobylite Review

As you can see there is a lot going on in this game. Ultimately how you choose to play is up to you. What do you want to focus on – Quest’s missions, Resource gathering,  Base building, Team management, and Training? All of the above?

I thoroughly enjoyed all parts of Chernobylite. I replayed the story to get a perfect score. I spent over 45 hours in-game enjoying the world.


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