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Brave The Nuclear Past of Chernobylite

Chernobylite Cover Image


Developer: The Farm 51
Publisher: All In! Games, Perpetual Europe
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Available as: Physical and Digital

30 Years Ago, You Lost the Love of Your Life.

The Chernobyl Disaster remains one of the most discussed events in global history 35 years later, even as the city of Pripyat remains a ghost city following its tragedy. Chernobylite is but another game that tells a tale of those affected by the nuclear incident in which players assume the role of Chernobyl scientist Igor. Determined to find out the whereabouts of his fiancee, Tatyana, Igor returns to Chernobyl to investigate while facing unknown horrors and antagonizing forces.

Chernobylite starts off mysteriously enough, with the protagonist riding a train next to his fiancee as she talks to him about how they first met. Moments later, the surroundings start to change as the lush environment turns barren and the train becomes run-down, with Igor as its sole passenger. Igor begins to chase after Tatyana, yet it becomes apparent that she's not who she appears, disappearing and reappearing like some sort of wraith. Eventually, Igor ends up in a location where he fights demons caused by an artifact known as the "chernobylite," which are nuclear crystals that serve as the aftermath of Chernobyl.

It is here that the player gets a taste of how the gunplay in Chernobylite works. Armed with an AK assault rifle spawning in Igor's hands, the player begins to fight the supernatural creatures that spawn shortly after. From the few seconds that I've experienced the game's shooting mechanics, the gun felt and sounded solid. Upon running out of ammo, the creatures swarm Igor and he is once again placed in a specific scenario, this time with two allies backing him up.

Chernobylite Shooting Gun At Chernohost
Chernobylite - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Violence Isn't Always the Answer in Chernobylite.

Chernobylite begins to introduce several mechanics through these "fever dreams" including crafting, gathering materials, and identifying radiation zones. Igor has a device that can not only identify surrounding materials and resources but can also detect radiation levels nearby. Under normal circumstances, areas in Chernobylite are safe to traverse with the only imminent threat being the enemies Igor will come across. Occasionally, there will be areas that Igor must venture with extreme radiation levels. The player must decide to power through or find another way around the hazard zone. If the player engages in the former, Igor can lower his own radiation by ingesting healing salves he crafts.

Igor can engage with human enemies in several ways, including stealth kills and gunfights. Players can also use Igor's silver tongue to get themselves out of problematic situations by persuasion. It may not always work, but an avoided fight can prove valuable to Igor. This is because Igor cannot use an enemy's weapon after he defeats them, as each enemy's weapon is hardcoded with their DNA. What this also means is that Igor can only use the weapons he crafts or happens to find that aren't of the opposing force.

Chernobylite Igor Talking To Enemy
Chernobylite - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

While in the Chernobyl Plant, events take a turn for the worse, and Igor is forced to use one of the chernobylite crystals to form a time rift with his gun. It is here that Igor is aware of breaking the fabric of time to get in and out of situations, yet before he enters the portal he is greeted by someone from the future who chases after him. Eventually, Igor and his ally make it to safety but at the cost of losing a partner. Back to square one.

Igor Khymynuk In The Flesh (Or Rather With The Chernobylite Crystal)

The introduction of otherworldly creatures, science laboratories, and the fabric of time shredded due to nuclear involvement reminded me of the beginning of Half-Life. While other games such as the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series are known for using the Chernobyl Disaster as a blueprint for their stories, Chernobylite takes its cues from the likes of Half-Life as well as Fallout. There's less of an emphasis on action gunfights and more on gathering resources and crafting. Igor's mental and physical health, along with his allies, is paramount to the mission's success which is something that his ally warns him after they make their escape.

Chernobylite Radiation Device Gathering Mechanic
Chernobylite - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

The player's base of operations is a run-down warehouse in which Igor can turn rusted metal scrap into crafting resources. It is here that Igor can craft a workshop table, bedding, and other necessities to make the run-down shack feel more like "home." There are missions that Igor can partake in himself or send his allies to do, including gathering supplies, medicine, and food.

Strength In Numbers, You'll Need A Lot Of Both.

Each ally Igor comes across has its strengths and weaknesses. Deploying each member who is better suited for the job will ensure that each mission ends favorably. Igor can also partake in missions himself, though the success of said missions depends on the player's own performance.

Chernobylite Crafting Home Base Mechanic
Chernobylite - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Overall, Chernobylite offers a different approach to the "survival horror" genre that players may be used to enjoying. It's not just the unknown and jump scares that will be a hindrance. Players will need to manage the mental capacity of their fellow allies and ensure that there's enough to survive for the upcoming days.

Food, medicine, and tending to injuries are more important than enduring the horrors of the unknown. The risk of dying from hunger and mental lapses is just as dire as succumbing to the effects of nuclear radiation. For players looking to engage in a fresh spin of survival horror, Chernobylite is a solid journey through the forbidden zone of Chernobyl.

Chernobylite is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

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