ReviewsReview: Chernobylite

Review: Chernobylite

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Survival games thrive off deadly settings and grim scenarios. So, what better location is there than the doomed Chernobyl exclusion zone near Pripyat, Ukraine? Chernobylite uses the environment and its dire situation to fuel its science fiction ideas. Fortunately, its concept is so far removed from reality that issues surrounding bad taste never really arise.

Developed by The Farm 51 and published by All in! Games SA, this is a single-player survival-adventure title. Thanks to its Sci-Fi twist, the developers have implemented some wacky ideas. However, this is a dark, non-linear that leans heavily on standard survival mechanics, mostly.

Chernobylite is a tale of obsession and love. 

True love is one of the most powerful forces known to mankind. It’ll force you to do crazy things while breaking you when you lose it. Chernobylite’s plot revolves around one man’s desire to find his beloved, no matter the cost.

You control a physicist called Igor Khymynuk. He worked at the Chernobyl power plant at the time of the ill-fated disaster. He last saw his fiancée on that fateful day and now, 30 years later, he returns to the nuclear wasteland to search for clues and find his love.

Chernobyl looks eerily beautiful.

Strange goings-on. 

The action opens with you chasing a ghostly apparition of your missing fiancée. The timeline is skewed and subsequently; you flit between periods and realities. It was disorientating and confusing, but this is merely the tip of the crazy iceberg. The majority of the gameplay revolves around Igor collecting resources when he heads into the exclusion zone. However, he is not alone, and a motley crew of stalkers can complete daily missions to find vital items. 

The game uses a day/night circle. You complete quests and scavenge during the day, and eat, build, and socialise at night. The world you live in is an ever-changing biosphere that can go wrong at any time. Your crew are fickle and a lack of food, too many failed missions, or poor management will make them defect. On top of this, death is a very real threat.

Decisions have consequences. 

What I truly loved about Chernobylite was how every minor decision impacts your progress. You are free to interact with whatever you like and deal with situations as you wish. Yet your choices have grave ramifications. Sadly, murder is a given. Therefore, how will you deal with their friend when you meet them? Will you lie to them, tell them the truth, or try to negotiate? These are very real decisions you’ll be forced to make as you try to survive.

What if those decisions weren’t final and someone offered you a do-over? When you die, and you will, you are transported to an ethereal realm. Here you see every decision you’ve made, and how they are intertwined. With the mysterious power of Chernobylite crystals, you can bend space and time and alter your choices.

Work together to achieve your goals.

Interesting ideas but poor AI. 

The day/night cycle, the psychological impact, and the constant balancing of needs are fascinating. Furthermore, the introduction of base building at home and during each mission allowed you to create long-term and impulsive plans. 

Hoarding food, ammo, electronics, and mushrooms (the core ingredient in this game), was a fine strategy. However, it quickly becomes apparent that you must be flexible. Retaining supplies to build impromptu medicines, or to trade for valuable information, was key. It was an excellent balancing act between expansion and survival, and it never became tiresome.

Where Chernobylite struggles is its less than impressive AI. The supposed crack force of elite soldiers is meant to be terrifying and deadly. Yet, they never deviate from their set routes, nor are they very good with their weapons. Killing them lacks difficulty and unless you are unlucky, you can exclusively use the stealth mechanics. 

I found this element to be particularly disappointing, as I wanted to be tested and I rarely was. I expected there to be moments of tactical nuance, yet this was sorely missing. 

Chernobylite captures the beauty of Chernobyl. 

Visually, The Farm 51 has excelled with the environment and the real to life imagery. Having spent time in the exclusion zone, the team 3D scanned to deliver an accurate and eerie world. The iconic structures, dilapidated buildings, and fresh fauna highlight beauty in the darkness. Yet, for all its details, there is a glaring oversight. It is devoid of life! It is reported that Chernobyl and Pripyat are teeming with animals, however, none are seen in Chernobylite

I put this disappointment to one side as I enjoyed a blend of realistic and supernatural sounds. The Sci-Fi theme allowed the developers to create some ghostly otherworldly noises. Moreover, these juxtapose the natural sounds of crunching footsteps and heavy breathing. I loved the use of silence that ramps up the atmosphere and the Russian acting. This added a layer of authenticity that enhanced the grit of the story.

Can you upgrade your gear?

An excellent UI and well explained mechanics. 

Survival games thrive or fail depending on how easy they are to play and understand. Luckily, Chernobylite uses a brilliantly simple UI and an excellent inventory system. Furthermore, new mechanics are always introduced with a thorough tutorial. Consequently, rarely did I struggle to grasp the fundamentals. Within an hour, I was able to enjoy the more complex layers of the gameplay. 

In a title loaded with choices and consequences, you know it’ll keep you playing for hours. Moreover, an array of building options, upgrades, missions, and so forth, helps to create plenty of replay value. Therefore, if you love the genre, you’ll adore the non-linear story and the challenging scenarios you’ll face. It’s simple to learn, tough to master, and addictive as hell.

Chernobylite is an intriguing concept. 

Conceptually, Chernobylite will intrigue you. Its blend of Sci-Fi and clichéd moments are complemented by authentic dialogue and real to life visuals. There is much to love about this survival game and you’ll soon forgive the shortcomings. I loved it and recommend you to buy it here! Will you discover the truth about your fiancée, or will Chernobyl claim another victim?

SUMMARY

Chernobylite is a dark and eerie survival title that is juxtaposed with hope and love. You must search the exclusion zone to gather resources and find friends. Once your team is strong enough you can attempt to complete your mission and save your fiancé.

+ Beautiful and eerie imagery.
+ Creepy sounds.
+ A great UI.
+ Excellent use of Russian acting.
+ Addictive.
+ Plenty of replay value.
- The AI should have been better.
- Where is the wildlife?

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: Daniel@moviesgamesandtech.com

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Review: ChernobyliteChernobylite is a dark and eerie survival title that is juxtaposed with hope and love. You must search the exclusion zone to gather resources and find friends. Once your team is strong enough you can attempt to complete your mission and save your fiancé. <br/> <br/> + Beautiful and eerie imagery. <br/> + Creepy sounds. <br/> + A great UI. <br/> + Excellent use of Russian acting. <br/> + Addictive. <br/> + Plenty of replay value. <br/> - The AI should have been better. <br/> - Where is the wildlife? <br/> <br/> (Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.) <br/>