Chernobylite is a first person shooter with survival mechanics and both team and resource management aspects as well. In the game you play as Igor, a scientist that use to work at Chernobyl back before and up to when it’s reactor melted down and blew up, as it did in real life. The site, in game, was a science station used for classified secret research. After the explosion Igor got away from the place, but a military group came in and locked the place down, not the army but a private military company (PMC), mercenaries. Igor has hired some military vets to escort him into the Exclusion Zone so that he can obtain a mysterious power source that was created by the reactor they call dun dun duuuuuuuuun Chernobylite. With this he plans to find his wife Tatiana who went missing before the explosion. Things go both right and completely tits up as they succeed in getting to the reactor room and Igor getting a chunk of Chernobylite, but a soldier, called the black stalker, who can teleport and is super strong shows up and kills one of the vets causing Igor and the other vet to have to run. They get away and get into the exclusion zone, and now they need to survive, get allies, and figure out what’s going on in the Exclusion Zone.
First let’s talk about some important things in the options menu before talking about the game. I know not everyone reading this is into parts of what this game is. Like for instance, I fucking hate survival mechanics when they’re strong, same for resource management. IE I don’t like having to deal with the mundane of real life in a video game, fuck that noise. And if you dislike any of the three types of play, you can change their individual difficulties, so there isn’t just an overall difficulty. I set combat to one step above normal, and then both the survival and management stuff down to very easy cause I couldn’t be bothered with that stuff as it’s not my cup of tea, getting an option for all three of those was interesting usually it’s just one setting that covers all three or it only covers combat. That was really nice to me because it allows you to customize the stuff you either don’t like or aren’t good at to make the game an appropriate difficulty for yourself. I really like these options and fully support them, I hope this kind of segmented difficulty options comes to more games.
The game is based on individual days, you have a morning which is a prep time in your bunker, the rest of the day which is when you choose were to go on a mission, and then a night where you’re back in your bunker. In the prep area you can talk with different people that are in your group, to which there’s one to begin with, the vet that you escaped from the reactor room with, but in the end there’s five people that you were able bring into the bunker with you. You can, if you choose, end up with zero I assume as you seem to be able to tell people to pack their shit and fuck off, including the vet. I didn’t do that because, to me, that sounds really fucking stupid to do, that being said you can probably readd them to your group. This option is likely there for people playing on the hardest difficulty in resource and survival mechanics, making it hard to keep the people in a good situation, so making them leave means less of a drain on resources for the time, allowing you to manage things a bit better. But other than talking to them you can also equip them with different gear, namely with a weapon and a type of armor, either stealth armor or defensive armor.
During the day you choose a mission to go on, there’s six distinct areas in the game world. You can put an ally in one area to go obtain a couple resources while you go to another. You’re allies will bring back no more than 3 different items, I believe. Each area tells you what has been air dropped in, what got a resent resupply, etc. Which means there’s a big box of that type of loot somewhere in that map for you to find, it also increase the odds of an ally obtaining that kind of item. Now as I said you can choose where you go, main missions also appear in these areas which becomes the focus when they’re there. In these areas the game gives you your health and your mental acuity. Igor is a scientist, not a soldier or a killer, so killing people is something that hurts him mentally just as readily as getting shot hurts him physically. If you lose all your mental acuity it starts to actively hurt you physically. So blindly slaughtering everyone is outright a bad idea. As such stealth is your friend, or cooking stuff that raises your brain power back up is good. You can eventually unlock an ability that lets you stealth knock people out without losing mental power as it knock them out instead of involving him stabbing the ever living shit out of them, which was fucking awesome. So the game is heavily stealthy, if enemies start to see you you can crouch which will give you a little more time to get into a bush or behind some trees to hind from them. It’s not the best stealth that I’ve ever seen, but it’s not bad, and it’s not hard to figure out, so it’s easy to fuck bad guys up and keep yourself from being seen. The game has silencers on weapons, BUT, they aren’t as good as the mythical ones in most games, they do make sound, still not as loud as real life ones are, but if you fire close to enemies they will find you pretty quickly from the sound.
Now if an enemy gets killed near another one they tend to immediately somehow know exactly where you are, and alert other nearby enemies to where you are, and they’re able to immediately track you without ever seeing you which sucks. Again you’re not a soldier, your a scientist, so guess what you’re not all russian hero, you’re no one man army. With all the enemies immediately being able to track you even if you’ve moved before they got there, open combat isn’t in your favor, and armor doesn’t last long, just like in real life, and your health gets shredded by bullets just like real life. So it’s fairly easy to get yourself killed if open combat opens, so if you know you’re going to shoot the shit out of some bad guys, you better have a good position with stuff to hide behind so bullets don’t riddle you full of fucking holes.
Resources are things you come by as you walk around, I assume on harder difficulties it becomes harder to find resources outside of the supply drops and caches that enemies own. Otherwise they’re just randomly found throughout the levels, later on you can create a workbench that destroys items and gives you half their worth. So let’s say you create a food item with two herbs, if you put that food item in the destroyer it’ll give you one herb back. This is mostly for when you get objects from enemies be it bullets, weapons, the rare occasional armor, or food items. So thankfully that’s not something you need to worry too much about, even the items you create and put inside the bunker can be salvaged if you need resources for something really fast.
And the Night section of the game back in the bunker you can train skills with the people you have in your bunker, but you need level up points to do that, you get level up points via the usual XP however you get XP by finishing missions or by picking up resources, which is where you’re going to get most of the XP. During the day you also can find clues to your wife disappearance, when you find enough clues and facts you’re able to use an item he was doing secret research on, but didn’t have the power source to even test it with, you feeding it facts and clues and it develops a 3D world that shows the past exactly as it happened, supposedly. It’s weird, it doesn’t actually make any fucking sense at all, but whatever, it works in game. The last thing you can do is sleep, I don’t know what good it does cause I did it like 6 times and never used it again as I kept using another ability to avoid sleeping. But it does bad things, every time you sleep the world moves forward a day which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. However each day that passes makes the game harder unless you build devices in the combat areas to lower the various things that grow over time. Radiation slowly builds up, you can build something that lowers it. Monsters show up which you can lower the spawn rate of with another item you can build. Lastly storms come in and while you might think, “So what it’s fucking water”, yeah no, well I mean yes, but that’s not what you should be worried about. When stores come so does the black stalker who will fuck your shit straight up. Basically while he’s around you have to run and hide from him like a little bitch cause he can just demolish everything. When the storm leaves so does he, you can build something that gives you more time before the storm shows up. As the days continue you have to build more of these to keep them at the best possible settings so you don’t have to deal with the three things mentioned. However, both monsters and enemy soldiers will destroy the machines you build if they come across them, so you have to build them where enemies don’t show up, the problem with this concept is that there are a lot of places soldiers can spawn when you start a level.
Monsters are alien like creatures that use portals to teleport around and they’re connected, somehow, to chernobylite. they cannot be sneaked up on and knocked out which sucks, but you can still murder the hell out of them. I found some, what I think are glitches with these enemies, sometimes when they come out of portals their visuals don’t properly load, so they become completely invisible, you can hurt them they can hurt you but you might not know they’re even there. The first one I came across killed me cause it was invisible and I didn’t even know it existed, so yeah.. that’s… fun? These monsters aren’t sophisticated or anything they run at you and claw at you or teleport around to claw at you some more, and they can rip you to shreds fairly easily cause you will always be a squishy scientist, but they don’t have armor or weapons which means you can kill them nearly as fast by just hitting center mass constantly.
Prior I mentioned how you can get silencers for your guns, you can modify them a lot, even create them (which is completely pointless, you can find all but two weapons in multitudes throughout the game. You can add all sorts of things to the guns, you have to build the upgrade you want once, after that you can put it on any of that type of gun for the rest of the game. You can get compensators, silencers, various types of barrels, different types of clips, lots of triggers and handles, even different scopes. So you can make the weapon how you want. And you want silencers, period, after that do whatever you want but you really want silencers.
For team management, you have to have food, they have their own health and mental acuity too, they can get injured during their missions and if you don’t feed them they’ll lose both health and mental acuity. I don’t know if they can die during missions but if they get in shitty condition they can outright leave cause everything you have and do is shit and they don’t want to be involved with it. The environment in the bunker can also affect health and mental acuity as well, in so much that things in the bunker can hurt them. Items you build take up electricity, they can put out radiation, damage the air quality, and I feel like there was something else, bad air and radiation can make your people feel like shit, and if you build too much and you don’t have the electricity for it stuff won’t work, or maybe everything just turns right off, I don’t know I always had things in check. All of this makes the people unhappy which damages their mental acuity. There is a whole set of things that raise comfort for your characters, which helps prevent mental acuity loss. There is also one type of bed you can create that can heal them too which is nice. Feeding them normal amounts keep things from falling due to loss of moral, and feeding them double amounts of food helps heal their mental acuity. You have to determine how to feed everyone every day, each person can be fed different amounts, including yourself.
Now throughout the game you have choices you can make that raise or lower the people’s thoughts of you, some of what you do will piss some people off and make others happy. Igor’s group made up of very different people with different plans and things they want, viewing the world in completely different ways. Later on you can actually change your choices with another machine you build fairly late in the build tree. You still get the same options but if you don’t like how something played out you can change the choice, you can even forget an event that happened which allows you to come across the event again at random in the game. However, this can cause an unforeseen issue for you, if an event you forget has to be done before some other events you’ve done, then they disappear for the time being as well, until you do that mission again. This means that someone you recruited might suddenly not be there. I did this by accident, however thankfully you don’t have to redo all the missions just the one that you forgot after that the rest of the missions that were forgotten thanks to needing that to be done first are all back. I forgot something and one of my recruits suddenly wasn’t in my bunker and I looked and saw all of the missions related that person for the most part were just gone, I finished that mission and suddenly the guy I had recruited was back in my bunker with all the missions that were missing suddenly back. Thankfully when this kind of stuff happens you don’t lose any of the skills you had gained from that recruit.
There’s six different areas, as stated. Each area is different, however they don’t really change, other than storms and stuff. So while they aren’t small areas, it can take you twenty or so minutes to scout through it after you kill all the enemies which is what I always did so that I wasn’t hindered by enemies while trying to find resources. So there is plenty to explore, once… after that, you’re just going through the same place with stuff put in different areas. So I’m not sure how diverse of a set of locations you want to count that.
All in all, the game is pretty fun for me, but I like stealth games, if you just wanna run and gun, you’re not going to like this, cause that’s going to kill you without the enemies shooting you. The voice acting is really good at least in Russian, I didn’t bother with English cause with games like this I just don’t do it I’ll put English subtitles on instead. With three different sets of difficulties you can really customize how the game plays to suit your tastes. I really enjoyed my time with it.
A review copy of the game was provided by the devs.
darkmikasonfire awards Chernobylite the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.