The gameplay for Chernobylite is fairly simple – you work your way through the station, collecting items and power ups, while dealing with the occasional enemy. It’s not the most complex game, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The main thing is that the gameplay is fun and addictive, which is what this type of game needs to be.

Chernobylite is a first-person shooter game set in a post-apocalyptic world. You take the role of Max, a lone survivor of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster who’s searching for a cure to the strange radiation poisoning which has left him looking like a gargoyle. His mission is further complicated by the presence of a pack of wild dogs roaming the ruins of the abandoned city, which look down on humanity for allowing the dangerous nuclear waste to escape.

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What happens when you combine a survival game, a horror game, and a first-person shooter with a heist plot? You get Chernobylite, which is a mash-up of a variety of genres that actually work well together. Chernobylite, which was first released in Early Access in 2019 and received a positive response for the majority of its initial period, has now been released into Version 1.0, so let’s see if it was worth the wait.

Review – Chernobylite (PC) –

There’s an undeniable allure to this place.

The game takes place thirty years after the Chernobyl disaster. When the mysterious element known as Chernobylite is discovered, Pripyat is now occupied by a private military force known as the NAR. You take on the role of Igor, a physicist who worked at the Chernobyl Power Plant and is an expert on the Chernobylite resource. After discovering evidence that his wife Tatyana, who went missing under mysterious circumstances, is still alive and being held at the reactor, he returns to Pripyat. 

As Igor discovers the truth about Tatyana, the Chernobyl incident, and the element Chernobylite, complete with its own dimension Igor can travel through, an engaging and compelling story ensues, with plenty of twists and turns, ranging from more personal stories to espionage, and even delving into the supernatural. It’s a little cheesy at times, with some over-the-top voice acting and plot twists that were all too predictable, but despite these flaws, I really enjoyed the story. 

While it’s a story-driven game, similar to Farm 51’s previous effort Get Even, the gameplay experience has been vastly improved, which is good news given Chernobylite’s much larger scope. For example, the gunplay has been greatly improved. Using the E and Q keys, you can safely line up a headshot by leaning out of cover. Because of the short amount of time required to kill, firefights are usually brief, but this adds to the excitement of each encounter. You get a couple of Chernobylite-infected enemies known as Shadows and a completely underwhelming final boss fight in addition to a couple of NAR soldier variations. This makes Chernobylite feel a little repetitive, especially as the twenty-hour campaign nears its conclusion. 

Review – Chernobylite (PC) –

Chernobylite isn’t afraid to go off the rails.

It is generally discouraged to shoot your way out of problems. Any enemy you kill will degrade Igor’s psyche, resulting in a distracting screen effect and little else. Fortunately, there are recipes that can completely negate it. To be honest, with basic line of sight and sound mechanics, much of the gameplay is actually designed to emphasize stealth. It’s functional, but it lacks the depth to keep it interesting, particularly later in the game, when the discouraged method of combat becomes a much better option. The AI isn’t much better, forgetting about you in a matter of minutes after losing sight and failing to summon backup, making the penalty for being caught relatively minor. The best parts of Chernobylite are the more scripted scenes where you are presented with more interesting scenarios. 

Chernobylite takes places on smaller confined maps that you will be exploring on a daily basis. At the beginning of a new day at the base, you will send yourself and your allies to different areas around Pripyat to gather supplies and complete missions. These are split into main story missions and option supply sidequests. As such, you will be going through the same zones over and over again, but random events, weather and enemy positions can change your approach. Eventually, you will meet the Black Stalker, who becomes a much more persistent threat if you don’t craft certain items to counteract the growing spread of Chernobylite Storms and radiation. 

Your decisions will have an impact on the world around you as well as the story. Chernobylite was one of the few games that made me think about my choices as much as it did, requiring you to balance your personal opinions with the relationships between your crew members. Because your team’s motivations are often at odds with one another, you’ll have to make some difficult decisions to keep everyone happy. I won’t go into detail about the mechanics that surround player choice because I don’t want to give anything away. It was also nice to see the game acknowledge my choices, but I wish the ending had been a little longer.   

Review – Chernobylite (PC) –

Mr.X-style menace, the Black STALKER pursues Igor throughout the game.

Back at your base, you’ll have to keep an eye on your comrades’ morale and health. Sending them on missions can cause them to get hurt, so it’s up to you to make sure they have the supplies they need to recover. If you don’t, they’ll grow increasingly irritated with you, and you risk losing them to the heist. There’s also the issue of making beds for your allies, as well as general comfort and radiation defense. You can also construct a variety of workshops to make weapons, attachments, and other field resources. Unfortunately, it isn’t the most comprehensive base-building system, as the placement of your base items isn’t particularly important.

Chernobylite appears to be a beautiful place. With a stunning recreation of the Pripyat Exclusion Zone, where the developers photographed and 3D scanned the environment. With an atmospheric environment and plenty of details, the results are obvious. However, there are some rough textures and underwhelming effects during the big moments, so it’s not perfect. Another interesting feature is the sound design, which includes the option of playing the entire game with Russian voice acting, which is by far the best way to experience this story.

Chernobylite is a wonderfully unique game with multiple gameplay elements that make it stand out rather than being dumped as just another post-apocalyptic survival game. It blends elements of survival, base building, choice-driven storytelling and a slight (and very welcoming) touch of horror for good measure. Even though it does have issues, namely when it comes to its repetitive gameplay loop and an uneven focus on stealth, I would highly recommend giving Chernobylite a shot. Na Zdorovie!

It’s a fantastic reproduction of Pripyat, although the texturing are a little harsh. 

Exploring Chernobylite’s world and unraveling its mysteries is entertaining, but it becomes tedious after a while. Its focus on stealth isn’t always successful. 

Overall, a decent sound design; just be sure to play in Russian for the greatest (and most inebriated) experience.

Chernobylite suffers from a lack of diversity and a monotonous gameplay cycle at times, but it compensates for these flaws with excellent narrative and scenario building. 

Final Score: 7.5

On the PC, Chernobylite is now accessible.

Reviewed on PC with an RTX 2060, Ryzen 5 3600X & 16GB RAM. Game installed on SSD 

The publisher supplied a copy of Chernobylite.

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