Initial Release Date: 07/28/2021 on PC, 09/28/2021 on PS4; Xbox Series X/S
Current Metacritic Score: 74%
Chernobylite is a first-person science fiction survival horror game developed by Farm 51 and published by All In! Games. You play as Igor, a physicist who once worked at the Chernobyl power plant and has now returned to unearth whatever he can about what happened to his long lost love. Gameplay mechanics include base-building, resource management, and overall survival with non-linear story development.
When a more story-focused trailer released mid-July, I was immediately pulled into their unique premise and combination of gameplay elements. When September 28th rolled around, I purchased Chernobylite for my Xbox Series X.
The opening of the game threw me for a loop. Although I was aware it has sci-fi elements, I was quickly transported throughout various settings, completely unaware of what was going on. There were mentions of portals and a substance called…you guessed it, Chernobylite. It was also in the opening hour where I quickly changed the language from English to Russian. Some of the English voice acting felt rough and forced, and the Russian voice actors felt more authentic–so I settled for subtitles.
My interest finally piqued when I settled into my home base with my only comrade, Mikhail. I got to clean up scraps and build beds, workbenches, and a generator. I quickly became adjusted to the RPG element of the game before I promptly started my first mission. I assigned Mikhail to gather medical supplies while I scouted for food rations.
The visuals in the game are stunning. There is an eerie atmosphere that comes naturally in a place like Chernobyl. The dissonant music sent my skin crawling as I explored the area. I searching for resources (mushrooms are quite important), evading enemies, collecting clues about Igor’s missing love, and eventually locating food. After the mission, I used this bizarre portal gun to return to base and chat with Mikhail. Then, it was off to bed and plan for day 2.
While the RPG element is strong, I noticed that the shooting mechanic is a little stiff and unforgiving, and I was disappointed by the barely noticeable dodge action. With that, I turned more to stealth. For the most part, stealth seemed to be the best option–and completely doable. I am still working out the kinks in combat situations and handling enemy, AI as that has left me re-trying a mission three times before rage quitting.
After a few more days in, I start seeing more Stalkers and the presence of toxic Chernobylite accumulating. Various decisions must be made, and you as the player are given almost free reign of navigating the web of outcomes. Even when you die, you are given the option to manipulate certain memories and reverse previous decisions. I have yet to alter a past choice, but I found this almost fourth-wall-breaking concept interesting. It’s very clear that this game put in a lot of effort to make your choices and consequences feel complex…and real.
I honestly am still very early in the game, and knowing how far down the rabbit hole I can get here, I wanted to present my first impressions. Chernobylite is a game with multiple identities, most of them presented strongly. It is–however–dense and complex, and if you play the game, you’re in it for the long haul. The freedom to chose your missions and manage your growing crew was the most enjoyable part, and I do think I will continue to hack away at the game. Despite the out-there concept of portal guns, I sincerely am curious to dig into Igor’s past during his time at Chernobyl.
Have you started Chernobylite or planned on purchasing it? Let us know in the comments or on our friendly Discord channel!