While fans of walking among the anomalies and abandonment are waiting for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, the Poles from The Farm 51 hustled and rolled out their “stalker” with bugs and bats called Chernobylite. Even we did not have to wait long (against all canons) – since the announcement in 2018 only three years have passed. Moreover, as early as 2019 the game could be tried in Steam early access, which we did – then the game did not make a pleasant impression. But that was early access, the games hanging in it are often far from perfect. It remains to be seen what it is now.
The basic formula since then has remained the same – the main emphasis in Chernobylite is not on shooting mutants and bandits, but on survival and building relationships with buddies. I don’t know if the Poles know this or not, but those who hate S.T.A.L.K.E.R. are often referred to it as a “bum simulator”. And if for the cult game of GSC Games such a definition suits with a great stretch, then Chernobylite fits into the “genre” perfectly: the main character makes soup from animal food, collects electronics from rusty junk, constantly argues with roommates in the warehouse and find out who is related to whom.
Good hunting, stalker
The plot of the game revolves around the mineral Chernobylite, which allegedly studied at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant even before the tragedy of ’86 – this mysterious material has more properties than all the artifacts put together. It gives a person the ability to telepathy, allows him to move in time and space, it can be used as a powerful source of energy and even create on its basis a kind of collective intelligence in the spirit of the group “Monolith”. The experiments with Chernobylite caused the explosion of the fourth power unit: the area around the station was contaminated, unknown creatures came out of the portals, people were evacuated, and the territory was sold to an international military corporation called the NAR. The owners have changed, but the essence remains the same. Secret research is still going on, only now their secrets are protected even more strictly – NAR fighters shot all the curious still on the far approaches to the nuclear power plant. So another version of the Exclusion Zone emerged.
The developers recreated the real landscapes of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in the game using 3D scanning
You will play as Igor Khimenyuk, a former employee of the Chernobyl plant. Thirty years after the accident, the hero receives an unusual parcel – a piece of Chernobyl and a photo of his beloved (Tatiana), who disappeared without a trace shortly before the explosion at the plant. A desperate professor decides to return to the Zone to find his beloved. How does he know that it is there to look? On this physicist has an ironclad argument – the voice of Tatiana in his head.
Even the shooter didn’t dare to storm the nuclear power plant by himself, without any training. So it’s up to us to take care of everything necessary – to convert the old warehouse into a real military base, to find allies and gather intelligence. Every game day starts with preparation for the sortie: you have to give orders to your partners, make machines for the production of weapons, laboratory equipment and whole compact nuclear reactors, and to craft all the necessary consumables. If there is something to craft with, of course – the first few days the key task will be to collect the loot.
The whole gang is assembled. Partners are not sitting on Igor’s neck – they can be sent for the collection of resources, and for free skill points they will teach the intellectual perks, such as increased damage when shooting, stealth ninja, higher raid on the collection of resources, etc.
The zone is divided into five locations: the port and the center of Pripyat, the eye of Moscow, the red forest, and Kopachi. By clicking on the icon of any of the zones, you can find out what tasks are available there and what resources they are rich with. But it often happens that the story mission appears in the location you ripped off the day before (resources need time to recover), and then you have to decide – to move forward in the story, but return with empty pockets, or postpone an important quest to a better time and first replenish supplies.
Either way, whichever you choose, after crossing into the Zone with the Chernobylite portal generator, the first thing to do is to get a detector… No, not abnormal activity, but junk. Artifacts in the classic sense of the game is not, but the priceless junk – a lot. You will have to climb through abandoned villages and contaminated forests, look for food, steal food from the military and, without any scruples, pick up any garbage from the ground (sometimes right under the forbidding sign with radiation) – iron, details at the junkyard of equipment, canisters with fuel remnants. The funniest thing is that out of all this junk our craftsman creates on the base simply wonders of technology.
I don’t know where the developers got such a love for mushrooms, but here they are the most valuable resource. They can be used to make a relaxing soup, make a bed, and even build a nuclear reactor.
The gathering in Chernobylite is fairly uncomplicated and is unlikely to be tedious, even for those who can’t stand survival games. The detector illuminates all the nearby useful debris, so collecting it is a piece of cake. The local Zone is also not rich in dangers: you only need to watch out for the Chernobyl fog (wearing a gas mask solves the problem) and radioactive areas, which you either need to bypass, or quickly run and then swallow a cure for radiation.
For a while distract from the carefree hunt for mushrooms and scrap metal can only NAR fighters and monsters, but bestiary, unfortunately, very lumpy: the ordinary monsters are only three kinds and they look inarticulate. The shadows look like a black-green indecipherable something, the black-bearers look like a brown-green something. The anthers… But the anthers look pretty clear: exactly like the face-grabbers from “Aliens,” repainted in a different color. They even hatch from similar cocoons, only, again, black.
Two types of abnormal activity: Chernobyl fog and Chernobyl storm. If you see fog, wear a gas mask. If you see the storm – get into the bushes or get a gun more powerful, soon you will be visited by the Black Stalker
Battles with monsters in Chernobylite are always fleeting and awkward. Not the least of these is the shooting mechanics: there is no standard crosshairs in the middle of the screen, you can only aim through the front sight or the sight on the weapon, and each shot has a strong recoil. Perhaps this was the idea – realism, everything – but this does not make you feel any better, especially if you are unlucky enough to run into a fast black-carrier. These monsters rush to the hero right in the forehead, like to bury their head in his chest and keep running somewhere, as if they want to ram him through. And even from this position it’s not easy to hit them because of the spinning head, so it’s better to shoot them at a long distance before they have time to rush to the attack.
Confrontations with soldiers are just as much of a pain. The NAR fighters, if you don’t disturb them, behave like barely-alive statues: back and forth, taking a smoke break. But sneaking past them quietly is like playing Russian roulette. They might not see you at ten paces, or they might hear you through two walls and immediately rush to find you, even if you’ve pumped up your stealth skills. Every skirmish with human opponents turns into chaos in a matter of seconds. Soldiers flit back and forth, their uniforms blending in with the gray-green bushes and houses, but once you distinguish their outlines against the murky background, they die with a single headshot from a machine gun (except for those wearing helmets). The protagonist against the background of swift enemies seems like a clumsy pseudo-giant – he moves clumsily and slowly, but is ready to burst a pack of bullets, especially when wearing armor. So it turns out that either you have time to finish off the soldiers with a few shots before they scattered, or you have a long and boring catch them in the monotonous surroundings.
Chernobylite also has its own Black Stalker – yes, almost the same Black Stalker that was the subject of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.’s campfire stories. He emerges from the Chernobylite storm if you linger too long on a mission, and performs about the same functions as Mr. X from Resident Evil 2: he drives the player and makes them nervous, not allowing them to systematically collect. However, he can only really scare you at the beginning of the game, especially if you’ve already dealt with the same Mr. X or Nemesis. If in their case, it really felt like you were being chased by an unkillable, relentless hunter, then the Black Stalker can be stumped by simple hiding in the bushes. And if you pump up your rifle, after a series of accurate hits he instantly deflates and plunges back into the portal.
But even if you suddenly come up short, the help will come bugs with saves, which work here no worse than cheats. Restart the game from a checkpoint – and the Chernobylite storm can simply evaporate, and the Black Stalker will not appear. In addition, the locations will re-grow mushrooms and there will be another batch of garbage to collect. True, sometimes it happens the other way around: some of what you managed to gather before saving, will disappear from the backpack and from the glades. It depends on your luck.
chernobylite release date 2021