Chernobyl was one of the biggest disasters in history, especially as these events could have easily been avoided, saving the lives of thousands of innocent people. Despite this, The Farm 51 ambitiously draws inspirations from this tragic event by not only recreating the original disaster, but also the actual Chernobyl exclusion zone. That’s right. Chernoblylite offers gamers the experience to explore the actual exclusion zone, with a slight twist…
Chernobylite is set 30 years after nuclear reactor 4 exploded, instantly killing 47 people and reportedly up to 4,000 more due to disaster-related illnesses — effectively rendering the area as a baron wasteland. What makes this tragedy even worse is that it could of been completed avoided. A breach of safety protocol during a routine safety test was identifed as the roo cause, this in turns exposed a design flaw that caused nuclear reactor 4 to overheat and explode. The rest is history.
I must admit, Chernobylite does a very good job pulling on your heartstrings. Once I was introduced to the story, I felt obligated to help find closure for Igor. Igor is the main character of Chernobylite whowas who was previously employed at Chernobyl’s Power Plant’s (unfortunately, you’re not Homer Simpson) as a physicist. Igor has battled demons inside his head for the last 30 years and desperately need closure, so you head back to where it all began- the Chernobyl Power Plant. ‘It’s her, Tatyana is here’, she’s speaking to you, but why? You have no other option other than to find her by exploring the disturbed wasteland and discover the twisted secrets of Chernobyl.
Chernobylite is technically a technogenic compound that dormant in the ruins of Chernobyl’s power plant. Its actual appearance is nothing like the shiny green crystal that its portrayed in the game, but never let the truth ruin a good story. Over the last 30 years, Igor has discovered that Chernobylite is not only an attractive crystal that my wife would mortgage my house for, but it can actually used to fuel your
Portal gun Portal Generator that can produce portals through time — Not bad for a bi-product of nuclear waste.
The problem with Chernobylite is not from a creativity aspect, but rather in its execution. This is somewhat expected due to still being in Early Access, but exactly how deep into its core are these issues? The gameplay is clunky, exploration is limited, and the AI ranges from incredibly stupid to EMP hacking. It is a shame, because the foundation for a AAA game is there- ambitious concept, epic story, and amazing visuals, but each day felt lime more of a chore as I found myself losing interest in the game that initially hooked me like few games have.
One game I did enjoy over the last year is This War of Mine, it’s a great game that I’ve clocked up nearly 80 hours on. The Farm 51 must share my opinion because Chernobylite shares quite a few similarities to This War of Mine. Not only do both games share a common theme of emotional loss and suffering, but Chernobylite also borrows This War of Mine’s day progression. Each day begins with selecting a mission from one of three locations to scavenge for resources. These missions are timed, so it’s critical to plan and prioritize these missions. This made easier by your fellow
minions followers that can sent out to help ease the load and attempt to complete missions for you. The downside of having followers is that they’re Human Beings and require food and entertainment – how dare they!
Unfortunately, missions are quite underwhelming and often feel like a game of hide n’ seek. Most of the time missions pose little threat if you have some patience, but every now and then you’ll find one of those hacking AI’s that seem to notice you through a house. This is something that I’m sure will be ironed out in coming updates along with the addition of plenty story-focused missions that will add more content.
Once you get bored of sneaky around enemies, there is only one alternative – bring out the guns! I waited for the perfect opportunity to test out my revolver and finally it arrived. I came across some Chernobylite-infused space travelers who looked like they would be up for a good old fashion gun fight. However, this is where I found my revolver to be as powerful as Mr. Burns (yes, another Simpsons reference). There’s currently only a revolver and shotgun available in this build and both should be avoided unless in dire straights. The good news is that The Farm 51 are addressing the issue and have released a roadmap that indicates that new weapons, weapon customization, and the ability to hack enemy weapons are all on the horizon.
Resources are critical for survival – without food and medicine both your followers and yourself will die. Once you begin to accumulate resources, you start to upgrade your base. More advanced benches introduce new crafting and building options, these include more advanced drugs, chemicals, food etc. Luxuries such as TV, new mattresses, and tables become possible and help increase morale. This concept is what made This War of Mine great and with some more work, will definitely aid Chernobylite.
I’ve been able to hold off this far, but if Chernobyl is this pretty in real life then pack my bags; I’m going to take the next plane to the Ukraine. There’s no other way to say it — Chernobylite is f**king gorgeous. I honestly spent the first hour of the game just taking screenshots. The lighting and smoke effects are sensational, but this should come as little surprise as Chernobylite is built on the Unreal Engine and The Farm 51 have done a great job with it. This isn’t a joke, but Chernobylite is nearly worth its RRP purely based on its visuals.
There’s so much potential in Chernobylite, and The Farm 51 are on the right track, no doubt about it. I have complete faith that the next two years of development will address content and story issues. Will Chernobylite reach its full potential? I hope so, it’s honestly hard to say. The concept of a sci-fi horror game based upon a horrific incident is great marketing, now it is up to The Farm 51 to deliver!
- GAMEPLAY - 65%65%
- GRAPHICS - 91%91%
- AUDIO - 79%79%
- POTENTIAL - 85%85%
Is it fair to give a rating to a game still in Early Access? Maybe not. But this is why I’ve included ‘Potential’ as a rating metric for this review. Chernobylite has amazing potential to be one of the best horror/sci-fi games of recent times, unfortunately it’s presently held back by its limited gameplay content.
A huge thanks to The Farm 51 for providing MEF TECH with an Early Access review key. I’d also like to thank Skall for allowing MEF TECH to use his Chernobylite in-game captures for our review. Be sure to check out Skall’s Twitter and website to sample more of his amazing work.
For more on Chernobylite, check out our previous coverage.