Home Game Reviews Chernobylite: Haunting Echoes of Pripyat

Chernobylite: Haunting Echoes of Pripyat

Chernobylite Survival FPS Review

Chernobylite Main Picture

Title: Chernobylite
Developer: The Farm 51
Publisher: All In! Games
Released: July 28, 2021
Platforms Available: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Article Reading Time: 11 minutes

Radioactive Romance

I’m sure many of us miss Stalker. Those romantic walks in Pripyat. Watching your friends who feel like playing Russian roulette with a semi-automatic weapon. And the children’s laughter in playgrounds where no living child has passed for decades. Well, who wouldn’t want to experience that atmosphere all over again? And that’s what we can be reminded of in Chernobylite, a game that can shorten that interminable wait for the next Stalker. As the name suggests, in Chernobylite, we will be moving around the devastated Chernobyl.

Igor’s Scientific Pursuit

It’s not exactly a place where you should plan romantic walks. And Igor, as the main character, will definitely confirm that. Igor is a physicist and former employee of the Chernobyl power plant who revels in technological gadgets like portals and helmets that reconstruct memories. The main reason is the disappearance of his fiancée Tatiana. All the available clues are in the vicinity of Chernobyl, where the more clues you get, the closer you get to the Chernobyl power plant, where the truth about what’s going on should be stored and where Tatiana has been hiding for 30 years. Because you’re “just” a scientist and not a trained soldier, you’ll be helped by careful preparation and the team of people you’ll meet along the way.

Survival Beyond the Blast

Chernobylite isn’t a simple linear FPS game where you’d move Pripyat further and further away. It is a survival game with RPG elements. The title is very similar in mechanics and feel to This War of Mine. Each day you have one opportunity to choose an area and the reason you go to the area, whether it’s for supplies, for the main storyline, or to get some evidence or traders. These areas are patrolled by NAR units. And since you return to these areas repeatedly, your actions affect that area in the future. You also spend your time in a safe place, and that is your sanctuary, where you have the option of building and crafting so you can beautify it according to the needs of not only yourself but also your accomplices.

Monsters of the Mind and Reality

Right from the start, it’s clear that the game is more sci-fi than a survival simulator in Ukraine. The game shows you through a short introductory tutorial that the soldiers occupying the Chernobyl zone are not your only problem. Apart from your mental state projecting various monsters in your head, other monsters will cross your path usually as well, and unfortunately they won’t just dissolve because they’ll be too real. The only way to make these mutants disappear is to take their feet on your shoulders or smash them to pieces. Fortunately, the title keeps the drama up when it comes to the monsters, so you’ll rarely encounter them, and you’ll mostly feel anxiety and apprehension, even if they’re some of the weaker ones. Much more often, you’ll encounter NAR units. They are dealing, as you are, with the impact of the Chernobyl explosion. Unfortunately for them, they are standing in your way of finding your fiancée, so thwarting their plan for your life will literally be the order of the day. However, their level of artificial intelligence is making life itself too much of a hindrance.

Basically, after a few rounds, you’ll know the units better than they do. Their walking routes are almost always the same, they’ll stop at the end of the route, roll something for themselves or a colleague across from them if there is one, stand for a moment, staring into the distance, and then repeat this activity over and over again unless they get stuck in the texture. Enemies have almost no peripheral vision, but they can see incredibly well into the distance. Luckily for you, Chernobylite has an indicator for how much you’re in the enemies’ line of sight, which is a good thing because your opponents can usually see you in the distance before you even notice them. An annoying sound will alert you in time, and you know it’s time to duck and preferably hide behind an obstacle. If you don’t react in time and sound the alarm, which lasts about a minute, all nearby units will be more alert and looking for you. But all you have to do is wait out of their sight for a minute, and then you can strangle them from behind again before they notice you again. The game is focused mainly on stealth in the beginning. You’ll feel the fact that you’re a scientist and not a trained soldier in the early game, so it pays to take out enemies from behind, preferably far away from their comrades. When it comes to combat, don’t expect anything dynamic. With most enemies, you’ll exchange two or three shots hiding behind an object. The average enemy doesn’t last much, but the same goes for you; every shot hurts. However, after a few practice sessions, you can shoot an entire unit with your revolver by yourself.

Building a Sanctuary

As I mentioned earlier, there are RPG elements in the game. There aren’t many of them, but they definitely change the gameplay. Depending on what member you have in your haven, you are able to learn something from them for talent points. For example, silent killing, which comes in handy, even though at times I found it less noticeable to just blast an enemy than to strangle them, either way, everyone around me noticed me anyway. Learning different skills from different members who join you is an interesting idea. Your team members will be important to you not only for learning but also for completing missions. You can send someone on each mission for you, and then it’s up to the success percentage. At the end of your mission, you’ll know how that member did and if they brought you anything or cleaned up that area a bit more than they did at the beginning of the day, which is where you’ll be following. But of course, your team members will also require something to stick with you.

Food is essential, and you want your shelter members to be comfortable, which you’ll ensure by giving them enough beds so they don’t have to sleep on the ground or fresh air. You achieve all of this by making the right items and equipping your base. The craft system here is simple yet varied. I’m not a complete fan of over-crafting myself, and I didn’t feel somehow annoyed when beautifying the retreat. All of the resources can be found on quests variously around the maps. However, the pleasant and meaningful feeling I had while crafting was definitely not there when collecting resources. In terms of loot and scenery, the game is relatively weak. Other than the enemies tap dancing in small spaces on the map, there’s not much to it. Sure, you think it’s the Chernobyl area, but I’d like to point out that it’s been a couple of decades since the explosion, and believe it or not, the countryside around Chernobyl is quite diverse. The developers may have wanted a bleaker and poorer version for the atmosphere. But that emptiness also applies to the NPCs, and I’m not referring to the content of their heads now, but their filler overall. The NPC characters, whether soldiers, mutants, or merchants, don’t do any activity, they don’t fight amongst themselves, in fact, there’s no one doing anything. They are literally waiting to see if an Igor will walk by. What the surroundings lose in variability and liveliness is instead made up for by the story and mechanics.

The Power of Chernobylite

If you can find a story NPC in the bitter landscape, opportunities often open up where you can help them, but you don’t have to. Most of the time, these choices come with a more profound outcome. Want to have your own double agent? The other team members may not like the fact that your past acquaintance is working for the enemy side, but you can take a chance and rely on his good word and later get a pat on the back for how good the information you secured was. Or you might get a pat on the back from an enemy soldier with an arm. Many decisions affect how your story continues and who will trust you or not. You may disappoint a member of your team so much that they pick up and leave. Decisions are a powerful thing in the game. But there is an even more powerful thing in the game than the decisions themselves, and that is chernobylite. The radioactive rock that was created by the Chernobyl explosion.

It powers most of the local high-tech equipment you use that no battery would be enough to power. For example, your portal gun, which will ensure your safe exit from every mission. The chernobylite rock is also vital for your memories. If you die, you go back to the beginning of the day and have a chance to retrace your steps. Before that happens, you’ll have to work your way through a web of events that will remind you of your past decisions and show you connections to the present. And thanks to chernobylite, you can change the threads of your decisions and adjust the outcome of your story. It’s an interesting system. It doesn’t suit me myself, though, because when I’ve made a decision I’ve made it and I prefer to continue to suffer the consequences for my decisions. However, these ideas are the main draw of the game in my opinion. However, the story still feels incomplete in places, and the graphics are nothing short of miraculous. The bleakness pulled from Unreal Engine 4 suits the game, but for the capabilities of this technology, the game could be clearer and smoother. The same goes for the audio, where at times your footsteps come across as extraneous, and sonically, nothing happens most of the time.

Chernobylite Radiation and anomalies around every corner
Chernobylite Radiation and anomalies around every corner

A Sci-Fi Survival Experience

In conclusion, you enjoy the audiovisual of the game and the game as a whole the most when an entity appears in front of you and wants to tell you something. Or when you’re digging through your memories and discovering the story. Unfortunately, I can’t shake the feeling that thisis to the game’s detriment, simply yawning in emptiness at other times. For my part, I give the game a rather above-average rating, which would have easily been lower if it wasn’t for the interesting story that kept me with the game. However, it’s still a shame about the details, which the developers at The Farm 51 had plenty of time to work on because Chernobylite was even in early access long enough for all that before the full release.

Where to Buy Chernobylite

  1. Steam (PC): Available for $29.99, currently on sale for $9.89 until June 13, 2024. Purchase it directly from Steam
  2. GOG (PC, Mac): Available for $11.99. Purchase it from GOG
  3. Epic Games Store (PC): Priced at $29.99, currently on sale for $9.89 until June 13, 2024. Find it on the Epic Games Store
  4. Xbox Store (Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S): Available for $29.99. You can buy it from the Xbox Store
  5. PlayStation Store (PS4, PS5): The game is available for $29.99, currently on sale for $11.99 until July 4, 2024. Check it out on the PlayStation Store


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