For gamers who loved the Stalker series and are attracted to Chernobylite because of its name and maybe the preview video, you may be disappointed—you can’t go back.
But, for gamers who choose to go forward, Chernobylite has its rewards. It was developed by Farm 51 and published by All in 1 Games. Farm 51 is a team of developers located in Gliwice, Poland. It was founded in 2005 by Wojciech Pazdur and Kamil Bilczyński. The game was released on the PC on July 28, 2021, and is available through Steam.
It is an FPS like Stalker, set in a much smaller semi-open world. There are also strong similarities to the Fallout series. As in Fallout 76 (FO76), The player (you), a physicist named Igor, is given tasks and must collect necessities (food, ammunition, medicine, data, etc.). In the process, you encounter soldiers, ghosts, and a creepy old doll which plays no part in the story. In your travels, you can pick up junk, plants, and mushrooms. One difference is you never get overloaded by collecting too much junk.
Early in the game, you get a radiation meter and a portal generator. The radiation meter is also used to find junk and plants. The portal generator takes you back to your home base when you finish a mission.
The radiation meter in Chernobylite
It’s not a large map and has six regions which you will frequently visit on various missions. When you’re on a mission or quest and encounter soldiers, the game seems biased for stealth takedowns (no guns used). Direct headshots don’t stop a soldier who has detected you. If you have enough ammo and an AK47, you can take them down, but they are screaming for reinforcements. Unless you are really patient and stealthy, the chances are you’re going to get killed often when you first start playing the game. It has some definite rules and mechanics which are not explained or explained very well.
When you die, you wake up in a green dreamscape that drops you on a floating rocky path with memory nodes. You can tap them to see how the critical decisions you made affected your plight. You can go back and change those decisions using Chernobylite shards as payment. You also must pass certain milestones to get the memories established. Or you can go back to your home base and call it a day. Each time you go back, you wake up on the cot, and it’s a day later.
When you die at the hands of the soldiers, you wake up in jail or a room. All your junk and weapons are gone, and you have to start over, but like FO76, you can usually find your stuff in one of the enjoining rooms.
Once you get over the game not being a remake of Stalker and get into the various nuances of Chernobylite, it’s engaging and entertaining. It has multiple storylines and characters, some who can be your companions, some who are your companions and traitors, and some plan creepy monsters. It’s got a timer on the missions, and getting killed and losing everything creates a lot of stress. You must complete the mission and avoid getting into a firefight with the soldiers because you will almost always fail.
The over-arching quest is you trying to find your lost love, who speaks to you like a ghost calling you to find her. She also gives advice and warnings from time to time.
Like FO76, you need to build up your base, and unlike FO76, you need to make it livable for your companions. If you don’t, they will get sick and die—more pressure.
Building benches, power supplies, air filters, and furniture at your base
The Farm51 released a significant update in mid-August and added several features, 15 new missions, and a new companion. It’s a vibrant game that you can explore for hours (when not running against a mission clock). Once you complete a quest, you can go roaming at your speed. The soldiers, monsters, and ghosts will still be there, and the consequences are the same, so it won’t be totally stress-free.
Chernobylite is that it is not a run and blast game. You quickly run out of ammo, and there are only four weapons in the game, so no BFG. However, there is the molecular plasma thrower you a build at your base. It’s very BFG Doom-like.
The game is available in English and Russian. The English is really awful, sounds like British twits, about as believable as a high-school play—the exception being Oliver, who is your main bud, mentor, and hired gun.
As you move through the missions, collect all the herbs you can. You need them for food, health, and weapon upgrades.
Chernobylite was a Kickstarter campaign about surviving in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. The developers went to Chernobyl and made 3D scans of the Zone. They used drones, laser scanning, and photogrammetry to create the locations in the game. If you thought you knew a lot about the Zone from the models in Stalker (which were incredible), you’ll be pleasantly surprised about the new places you’ll discover in Chernobylite. You can see a preview here. Go here for a beginner’s guide.
Chernobylite – Launch Trailer
I give it a 4.3 (Shadow of the Tomb Raider got a 5.0, FO76 receives a 4.4, Stalker got a 4.8).