Better wait for STALKER 2
While GSC Game World is working on a sequel to STALKER, the Poles from The Farm 51 are releasing their game about Chernobyl. The project was in early access for a long time, but at the end of July the final release took place – so everyone can take a walk through the photographically recreated dead city and the corridors of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant smelling of fear.
The main character of Chernobylite is Igor, one of the liquidators of the 1986 accident. 30 years later, he begins to hear the voice of his fiancee Tatiana, who disappeared somewhere during those events. Igor takes two fellow special forces (one of them for some reason is from Canada) and returns to Pripyat to finally find out what happened to his bride.
At the beginning of the game, Tatiana whispers what to do – an interesting kind of tutorial
Chernobylite’s prologue is impressive. We make our way through the forest and then a giant gray dome emerges from the trees. This is a new sarcophagus of a nuclear power plant, which was installed only a couple of years ago. According to the plan, the heroes need to sneak past the bad Russian military (what are they doing in Ukraine at all?) To the very fourth power unit in order to extract the chernobylite that has grown there – a real-life mineral that was formed during the melting of the reactor core and is still very radioactive … In the game, Chernobyl looks like a green crystalline structure that has fantastic properties. Igor loads one crystal into a hand-held quantum cannon and opens a portal to … an adjacent location. Literally – to the next street. This is where the main problems of the game begin.
The new dome was delivered at the end of 2017
There are only five open for visiting locations: the Duga radar, the port of Pripyat, the center of Pripyat, a sanatorium near the village of Kopachi and the famous Red Forest. And if at first you admire the detail of the elaboration of the streets and the interior of abandoned buildings, then for the third or fourth time walking around the same places is boring. Sometimes, however, there are traders of boxes with an unknown swag (a joke about loot boxes from the developers), enemy soldiers in trouble (they will not always say thank you) or just city madmen.
The algorithm of all missions is the same: we look around, go towards the point of interest, bypassing or destroying patrols, go to the next one, again bypassing or destroying patrols, talking to someone or hacking something, returning to the base through the portal. Closer to the middle of the plot, Chernobyl mutants appear. At first, it is interesting to fight with monsters, but it is worth pumping a little equipment at the base – and they cease to be at least some kind of problem.
From the base, all of Pripyat is visible at a glance
The base, by the way, can be equipped. The mechanics are entirely borrowed from Fallout 4 : we clear the area, build a workbench out of garbage, and then furniture, lighting and even garden beds. All this alone is of little use. You can make a press for the production of cartridges, but than looking for materials for them throughout Pripyat, it is easier to find ready-made ones. In addition, all containers and caches are refilled upon return. Needless to say, shooting in Chernobylite is made as boring as possible: there are few weapons, enemies aim slowly, and there are almost no dynamics in battles.
Our comrades also live in an abandoned warehouse that serves as a base. They can be sent to side missions so as not to perform this routine (collecting resources or stealing cargo dropped for military purposes). But according to the plot you have to move yourself – the game always suggests that the probability of success for everyone except Igor is less than 50%.
The entire gameplay in Chernobylite is as looped as possible. The matter is aggravated by the small amount of content. Since the budget was only enough for five locations (photogrammetry is a very expensive technology), the developers tried to somehow diversify the constant travel to the same places – mainly with dialogues. Igor meets not many new characters, but as the plot progresses, they constantly turn out to be not who they seem. At the base, you can also conduct intimate conversations with party members, but only a couple of them stand out in character: the cynical smuggler Mikhail and the distraught old hacker Tarakan.
Even from time to time, the game throws up a “difficult moral choice”, which most often boils down to murder or pardon of a suspicious type. But only one of these situations can slightly affect the final chapter of the game (which is a spoiler). Otherwise, such decisions usually only slightly affect the attitude of the party members towards us. Unless you expel them from the team on your own, they will still help on the last “suicide mission”.
Chernobylite is hard to recommend even as a way to pass the time until the release of STALKER 2. After 10 hours, you already remember every nook and cranny of all five recreated locations. And the game asks and asks to return to them and do about the same thing. The situation could be saved by an interesting plot or at least some deep subtext. But there is nothing of the kind here at all.
The price tag of the game is quite low – so it’s better not to go through a thoughtless and merciless campaign, but to start the free exploration mode and walk around Pripyat for an hour. And then, perhaps, make a refund (but we didn’t tell you that!)