For many people, the idea of a post-apocalyptic wasteland that follows after a nuclear war isn’t far off. After all, that almost happened decades ago in the Cold War. Combine that with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster back in 1986, and we have a pretty good idea of what this event could look like. However, we’re not talking about nuclear war, but instead, we’re talking about Chernobyl. Specifically, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the setting for the game Chernobylite.
What Is Chernobylite?
Chernobylite is a sci-fi survival shooter with horror elements published by All In! Games and created by The Farm 51. The game is set to be released in July 2021 for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.
As the game isn’t out yet, let’s talk about what we can see from various footage as well as early access gameplay.
The story of Chernobylite happens due to the events of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster back in 1986. After the disaster’s events, Russia made several methods to contain the scope of the disaster. These range from sealing the power plant in concrete to creating a thousand-square-mile-long Exclusion Zone. Still, people, daredevils, and other ne’er-do-wells continue to make their way inside. In Chernobylite’s case, though, they have a real reason to do so.
You play Igor, a physicist who employed a team of mercenaries to get him inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Your goal is to find your fiancée, Tatyana, who disappeared during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. But first, you search for Chernobylite, something created during the disaster that Igor thought can help in finding his fiancée. After sneaking inside the Exclusion Zone and the power plant proper, Igor and his team are blindsided by enemies. It is only through the use of an experimental device powered by Chernobylite that they are able to escape.
After escaping, Igor and his team now race to find out what happened during those events in 1986. What mysteries would they uncover, peeling through the events of the disaster? What horrors would they face while doing so? Who will they meet that can either help or hinder their mission? Well, we don’t know that currently. What we do know is the fact that Igor can hear the voice of his missing fiancée inside his head. For better or for worse, Igor will have to see this whole thing through.
Gameplay and Controls
In terms of gameplay, Chernobylite has a similar formula to all of the first-person shooter games that are in the market with some additions. We’ll talk about combat in a later part of the article. However, the game’s overall feel in terms of the environment is similar to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and F.E.A.R.
Controls-wise, the game has several things to keep in mind. There’s an inventory system similar to Resident Evil, with certain items taking a certain amount of space. You can set items for use on a quick bar to use them quickly, but weapons need to be placed on the same quick bar.
Other things to take note of are the health of the player and his companions, their resources, and the general state of the world. Players need to ensure that their companions are in tiptop shape before sending them to missions. In addition to this, the world itself is against you as there’s lethal radiation, deadly storms, and various enemies attempting to kill you.
Traversing Missions and Companion System
To elaborate, we’ll talk about the way players tackle missions. As stated, players can assign companions to many types of missions depending on their skillset. Their chances of success increase depending on how skilled they are on the mission that you’re sending them on. One companion might be good for sneaking around to scavenge scrap and gear. Another might be a good carpenter who can build better defenses for your base. Another might be good at shooting things so you can send them to dangerous missions and more. Great management of the companions that you have will make your life easier on Chernobylite.
In addition to this, your character can also go through missions yourself, something that’s recommended for the hands-on approach that some missions need. Other than these things, there’s also the base-building, crafting, and combat parts of the gameplay, which we’ll talk about below.
Skills and Leveling
Players also have a leveling system in Chernobylite that’s tied to their skills. Players level up by doing things in the game world like crafting and killing enemies. Once they level up they’ll receive a skill point. However, they need to talk to one of their companions to improve a skill of their choice. These skills can range from accuracy in shooting, to improving how efficient they are at crafting.
Since Skill Points are tied to leveling, though, players need to prioritize which skills they need to succeed. A savvy player might go for crafting to get more ammunition, but getting points on accuracy would reduce how much ammo players need to kill something. Prioritization is key, and if done well, might be able to save players a lot of time and hassle.
Base Building and Crafting
Once players go through the first few missions of the game, they would then be taken to the hub world. It’s here that players can consolidate their position in the world, as well as crafting the things they need. Before they can do so, however, players need to keep two things in mind: power and comfort.
Power is self-explanatory: this is how much power your basecamp has at its disposal. Anything in the base that players can use to craft items will cost power. Power can also be used on things like electric fences, radios, and other important things in the base. Going over the power requirements means that there are a few penalties when doing things like crafting, and the defenses going offline. Players can improve their power limit by creating generators, which can be improved by finding better generator blueprints in the world.
After power, players need to take into account the comfort level of their base. Having better comfort means that the team the players will create will be better rested and prepared for the missions. The more comfortable and safe your base is, the better that you’ll be. In addition to this, players can create items like bullets and even guns through several crafting benches that they need to create through crafting.
To craft these, as well as other items, players need to get crafting materials. They can get these throughout their journeys in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. After that, they can then bring them back to their base to craft both items and base components. To start, players have several items of scrap that they can salvage to create the necessities. After that, they need to scavenge various materials found all around the game’s world.
Combat in Chernobylite is the same as any first-person shooter that you’ll see. You have guns, you shoot guns. Your melee is on one button, and you have a choice to either incapacitate or kill. Overall, if you’ve played Call of Duty, or more accurately, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., you’ll know what you’re dealing with. What sets this apart, though, is the fact that there’s an element of horror added into the mix. Something that F.E.A.R. players are more intimately familiar with.
However, there are also stealth mechanics to consider. If you’re familiar with Dishonored, then it’s pretty clear what you need to do. Crouch, sneak around, find an optimal opportunity to shank the enemy’s behind. Simple, right? Well, the enemies tend to spot the player even when crouched, so good awareness of the surroundings is key to success.
Other than these things, some of the enemies that the player encounters would be straight-up annoying to deal with. One of these is the incredibly creepy Shadows that can leave chunks of Chernobylite everywhere they go. These tall, green and creepy fellows can pass through walls and have limited teleportation. It also doesn’t help that they take a decent chunk of the player’s health bar. One piece of advice to players: make their shots count, especially since there’s no hip fire crosshair, so they need to aim their shots properly.
Players can encounter human enemies as well; these are the military arm of the government keeping watch on the Exclusion Zone. Encountering them is sometimes inevitable, so it’s up to the player whether to sneak by or kill them. Do note that players can’t get their weapons if they don’t have a specific item. They can, however, get their ammunition and health packs.
Graphics and Level Design
Graphics-wise, Chernobylite looks similar to Call of Duty and Escape from Tarkov. The game looks realistic, with some hiccups here and there, but mostly on the lighting aspect.
The game isn’t that much in terms of its graphics. If you’ve seen Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Chernobylite is like that., where the game is best is in its sprawling level design. The game’s levels have various paths that players can take depending on their gear. For one, the levels have their dangers for Igor to face. These range from pits, radiation, and enemies just to name a few. These levels also have secrets scattered throughout the area. For observant players, they can use an item to scan their surroundings and find said secrets. These can range from guns, ammunition, to crafting materials.
In terms of sound design, the game is pretty okay. The game has some good OSTs for the quiet times and the music gets muted when players are in intense situations.
How Does Chernobylite Compare to Similar Games?
Now that we’ve talked about Chernobylite, let’s talk about games similar to this. We’ll start with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl. We’ll then follow that with the Call of Duty series, specifically Modern Warfare. After that, we’ll talk about the F.E.A.R. series, Fallout series, and lastly, the Metro series.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl
It’s no contest that we’re talking about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl here. After all, both it and Chernobylite are set in the same area. There’s a whole lot of similarities between the two games as well. For one, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has a lot of anomalies and other near-supernatural happenings in the game. Players who are not careful can encounter these anomalies and just straight up die. In Chernobylite’s case, there’s the fact that Igor can hear the voice of his missing wife whispering in his ears. Kind of like in Dishonored, if you think about it.
Another similarity between the two games is how radiation works. On S.T.A.L.K.E.R., players need to be constantly alert about radiation pockets as they tear their HP to shreds. This is similar to Chernobylite, as players need to use a scanner to avoid radiation pockets. When that scanner screeches a warning, they best stay away or find a safer area. Some areas in the game are even inaccessible unless players have radiation shielding. This means that players need to explore and even backtrack previous areas and levels to find everything.
There’s also the way that both games treat companions that are kind of similar. In S.T.A.L.K.E.R., players can meet other people and interact with them to get items and other cool things. Chernobylite, on the other hand, has players manage each of their companions as best as they can. Mismanagement can lead to the injury or even deaths of the companions that they have. This means that the player will have a lower chance of survival in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Next up is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and this addition is here purely because of a gameplay standpoint. Specifically, the shooting aspect.
Call of Duty has always been a more action-oriented game, and Modern Warfare was no exception. However, players have the option of choosing Realism Mode after they beat the campaign once. This mode removes the crosshair that’s ever-present in a lot of shooters. This means that hip fire is now out of the option, as players are less accurate when firing on the hip. Careful, more moderated playstyles are then considered due to this. However, the difficulty is also ramped up due to the increased amounts of enemies.
In Chernobylite’s case, players need to get into this mindset more. This is because players don’t have a crosshair no matter the difficulty. Thus, carefully navigating their way through encounters is key to success. There’s also the fact that each enemy has a health bar that pops up when players attack them. This isn’t something that the Call of Duty series has and it’s more rooted in the Fallout series which we’ll talk about below.
Next up is the F.E.A.R. Series, which is considered by many to be one of the best suspense/horror FPS games out there. And to be fair to them, they’re not wrong. The atmosphere of the games is top-notch, and for players that enjoy getting their pants scared off of them while kicking ass, this series is for them.
The game does this by having the players be in the scary parts themselves. Players don’t lose control of their characters even when scary stuff is happening. For example, there’s one scene where you see the game’s Sachiko Expy, Alma, floods a corridor in blood as a hallucination. At that moment, though, the player doesn’t know that and can attempt to run away. Eventually, though, the flood will catch you and will disappear.
Still, the sheer scare factor that the F.E.A.R. series has on their players is something to behold. Chernobylite meanwhile, has a subtler horror to it. The game’s underlying story isn’t released yet, but there’s a lot of supernatural stuff happening in the background. For those that want some horror to chew on, Chernobylite is a good choice due to the game’s setting. That and the voice of the protagonist’s fiancée whispering in the player’s ear constantly.
Next is the Fallout series, which is Chernobylite on a grander scale as everything is a nuclear wasteland. The game sets players in post-nuclear-apocalypse America after a devastating war with China. The game’s player character is one of the many American citizens who went inside Vaults scattered throughout the US to survive. Now, after entire years of being frozen solid, proceeds to walk out to see post-nuclear war America.
At least, in Fallout 4. Previous Fallout games have characters born during the post-war era; Fallout 4 is unique in that their character was before the bombs dropped on US soil.
Still, players need to explore this nuclear wasteland, finding weapons, food, and more to survive. They also need to fight off various enemies, from bandits and mutated animals to malfunctioning robots. Still, the world is now the player’s oyster, a mutated oyster, sure, but you get the idea. And it’s up to them to decide how the story of the game proceeds from there.
Do they want to help in redeveloping what’s left of human civilization? To rise above the ashes of the past? Or perhaps they want to rule with an iron fist, and get what they wish from everyone and everything? That’s the beauty of the Fallout series; players can do whatever they want, as it’s their own story. Combine that with a metric ton of mods from the modding community, and you have a long-lasting series to enjoy.
Last but not least is the Metro series, which is also similar to Fallout in setting, but with a dash of supernatural stuff in it. That, and it’s set in the railway tunnels of underground Moscow, at least the first two games.
The Metro series follows the exploits of Artyom. Artyom is one of the many who calls the Metro underground their home after a devastating nuclear war back in 2013. Like on Fallout, various mutated animals and other creatures now inhabit the outside world. Combine that with the radiation, and the people fleeing to the Underground Metro becomes understandable. Here they survive by scavenging and growing whatever they can get to eat.
Years later, the Metro has descended into anarchy, Stalinists and Nazis are fighting for control over the Metro. Meanwhile, bandits prey on those caught in between. The Rangers, the Metro’s peacekeeping force, is mostly undermanned but willing to fight the good fight, and Artyom wants to be one of them.
Overall, the game’s premise is similar to Fallout but set in Russia. However, the game shines more on its horror aspect. Most of the areas in the game are incredibly dark, and players don’t know if there’s an enemy until it jumps them in the face. In addition to this, there are some sequences where the game outright puts players into spine-chilling situations.
An example of which is the hallucination sequences, of which there are quite a few. And that’s not even talking about the game’s limited ammunition, which follows after the Resident Evil series. Thus, making their shots count is one of the game’s key components.
Is Chernobylite Worth Your Curiosity?
If you’re the kind of player who wants to play through a good suspense game with a good mystery, then yes. Chernobylite might not be out yet, but the game has a pretty good premise and setting. Hopefully, the full game delivers, but from what we can see currently, the game looks to be on the right track, with a few bugs here and there.