Recently I watched the HBO series Chernobyl for a second time and I felt that it is still one of the most horrifying films of this century. So when I heard about Chernobylite using 3D scans from the actual site in Ukraine my interest was peaked. True this is not the first time I have played a game that is set in the shadow of the Chernobyl reactor. I too played S.T.A.L.K.E.R. but Chernobylite is not like that game outside of its setting. The goal of Chernobylite is survival. Not just your own survival but that of your entire team. This is where the similarities to another game namely Fallout comes into play. In Chernobylite you work on building a base through finding resources in the field and missions that will take you to specific parts of the map where there are drops that you can pick up.
Chernobylite is not as simple as collecting materials. The irradiated survivors are out to get you for trying to collect those precious articles you need to survive. It is a survival horror/RPG hybrid in the best sense of those two genres.
The look of Chernobylite is impressive. Especially when you take into consideration that this is an independent title. With the DLSS setting turned on it takes my 2K image and gives it a very 4K feel. On my laptop that gives Chernobylite an almost photo-realistic quality. Particles are constantly flying by you making the world live and breathe as you walk around and explore. The colors for the most part are moody and muted but pop when you need to see something spectacular or irradiated.
I initially made a huge mistake playing Chernobylite. I decided in the interest of expediency to choose English as the spoken language over the intended Russian. It made things a lot easier to learn initially but took away from the immersion the game offers. After I got past the learning phase I decided to change the settings back to Russian spoken with English sub-titles and enjoyed it far more. The music is simple and creepy when it needs to be and ads to the overall world.
Chernobylite is structured in days. Each day you can accomplish one major mission but you can also send your fellow survivors out on special missions. It is vital that you accumulate the supplies to maintain both the sanity and health of your team. Morale also plays a role in the mental health of your team so not only do you need them fed but also want them happy so some comfort to your base is also essential.
Like many modern RPGs, the choices you may in dialogue have an impact on how people relate to you and your future decisions as well. This will remind you of games like Fallout New Vegas, Cyberpunk 2077, and Outer Worlds.
You will have weapons but ammo is very scarce so be prudent when holding down the shoot button because you may come up short just when you need to defend yourself the most.
If you are looking for a fast-paced run and gun style of game then Chernobylite is not for you. The joy of the game is in the patience of building an inner world inside of a dark setting. It is designed for you to spend time and effort to do so.
The controls all feel natural and I adapted to the action buttons and sub-menu fairly quickly. You will get a very simple on-the-fly tutorial at the beginning so that you may get familiar with it but I found that to be a bit lacking in the first hour. It took me a few hours to feel completely comfortable with everything.
The A.I. is not terribly aggressive but once the enemies are locked on to you survival can be difficult. Be prepared to need to heel quite often. One interesting thing about Chernobylite is that when you fail you may not just die but be incarcerated by your enemies. When you are capture you can lose all of your hard-fought-for weapons and resources. Getting them back is not terribly difficult but can be a little frustrating if you were trying to achieve a specific goal.
Game time can run 15-24 hours if you go after the main storyline aggressively which is excellent for an Indy title. Re-playability is also very high if you are invested in your base or may want to do another playthrough to accomplish some things you had not completed previously.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
Chernobylite is a rock-solid Survival Horror/RPG made by a small Indy company that had the guts to go to Chernobyl and 3D scan the actual area you will be traversing. That is what I call going the extra mile to give gamers the verisimilitude they crave. I cannot say enough how the price of $26.99 right now on Steam is an absolute steal. Chernobylite has far more value than any game that starts at that price point. Seriously I had to look at the price more than once to make sure. If you are currently looking to get lost in a dystopian nuclear-irradiated world then Chernobylite should be at the top of your list this summer.
A copy of Chernobylite was made available by the publisher.
Thoughts expressed in this article are the authors alone and not that of the game publisher or editorial board.