by Lord Badger
What if Fallout 4 was written and developed by Russians? What if it took place in the aftermath of Chernobyl? These decade long gaming questions are finally answered in Chernobylite. Developed by The Farm 51, Chernobylite is extremely difficult to pin in any category. I hate likening games to other titles. As a general rule of thumb, I avoid it completely. But with Chernobylite it seems complete warranted to point out how much it feels like Fallout 4. Initially anyway.
You see while it has a serious Fallout vibe to it, Chernobylite has so many different genres and game mechanics wrapped up inside it that it is impossible to put it in any single genre. Survival?… Check, Horror?… Check, Base Building?…yep got that too, Rougelite?… Sort of, FPS?…definitely, Stealth game?… if you want it to be sure. I could keep going on but I think you get the point.
You take on the role of Igor Khymynuk. A scientist who worked at Chernobyl on that fateful day in 1986. While you managed to escape the devastation your fiance Tatyana, didn’t. Now, 30 years later, she calls to you so you head back into the powerplant to rescue her.
As you can probably guess the mission goes completely wrong. A member of your mercenary team is killed and you narrowly escape thanks to the weird/paranormal/exotic mineral Chernobylite that powers your portal gun.
You regroup in an abandoned warehouse and plan to immediately return and save Tatyana. Of course, you are completely underequipped for this so decide to accrue resources and recruit new members to your team. and this is the main thrust of Chernobylite gameplay.
The main aim of Chernobylite is to build up all the required parts needed to pull off a heist on the Chernobyl power plant. This requires going on missions (and assigning your teammates to missions) to gather resources and food as well as recruiting new members to your team. Food is required to keep your team and yourself fed. You can choose how to ration this at the end of each mission. Feed your team well and their mood and performance will increase. Although you will run out of food quickly. Don’t feed them enough and they will resent you, become unruly and start performing poorly.
Resources are needed to build upgrades to your base to keep your team happy and effective. The better the beds you build, the better quality of sleep your team receives. You also need to make sure they are warm enough, the air is purified and electricity flowing, etc. Resources are also required for building new weapons at craft benches so upgrading weapons might be necessary to complete a mission but can come at the cost of your teams’ comfort and efficiency.
These systems are well thought out, work brilliantly and add a lot of depth to Chernobylite. unfortunately, the missions become repetitive extremely quickly. Sometimes this is brilliant and helps towards the immersion. You just wanna crack on and get the heist going but you need to do the same area for resources for the umpteenth time. Doing so means you can build that workbench and access new weapons that are needed.
So you go out once again, harvest the resources needed and build the crafting bench. But it came at the detriment to your team’s mood/health so out you go again to gain the materials/food needed to fix that issue. Repetitive? yes, Boring? possibly. But the frustration you feel as a player is reflected by Ivan in the game himself. This is brilliantly executed as you begin to feel and relate to Ivan and become more immersed in the world.
On the face of it, Chernobylite should be right up my street. A Russian, survival game with crafting, base building and resource management. Chernobylite on paper is everything I want in a game. Fallout 4, but a crazy mad Russian story. So does it deliver? Yes and no. Everything I have mentioned and more is in CHernobylite. There is a hell of a lot of differing game mechanics and it juggles them all brilliantly. But I just couldn’t connect with the game at all.
I know the prolific author and fellow contemporary S.L Perrin over at Littebitsofgaming.com loved Chernobylite. While I agree with nearly all of his review of Chernobylite I just felt cold and indifferent to it. It did nothing to entice me to keep playing. I just wasn’t intrigued enough to continue the story.
I am even gonna refrain from giving CHernobylite a score in this review as I don’t feel it would be a true and fair reflection on the game. It has all the makings of a fantastic game. It has everything I love about gaming wrapped up inside it. We just didn’t get along with each other and I don’t know why?