Earlier this year during the Xbox Games Showcase, we saw a whole bunch of Chernobyl-inspired games. OK, maybe we saw like two or three during that presentation — but it felt like a whole bunch more. HBO’s Chernobyl series had been a recent big hit and it must have reminded the world of the terrible tragedy from 1986.
Chernobylite has been in Early Access on PC since October 2019 (PC version was fully released in July 2021). Today, the game finally arrives on consoles (PlayStation and Xbox). I was lucky enough to spend a few hours with the console version (PS4) over the past week and here are my early thoughts.
*myVGBC.com was provided a review code for Chernobylite from the publisher for PlayStation 4.
The opening of Chernobylite got me very excited for this game. From the opening alone, I thought this would be a first-person spooky, horror/sci-fi tale taking place during the Chernobyl disaster. Once I made it past the opening I got something much larger and much different from what I was expecting.
Day by Day
In Chernobylite you take control of Professor Igor, who is trying to get back to his lab to find his fiancé, Tatyana. Tatyana acts as sort of a guide throughout the game — a ghostly guide. In the beginning, Chernobylite definitely gave off some Resident Evil 7 vibes. The world was scary and dark and there was even some paranormal activity.
Chernobylite is a survival game that relies heavily on stealth, crafting, resource and team management, item collection and much more. You are working to expand your warehouse into a working lab and grow and manage your team to complete Igor’s ultimate goal — finding his fiancé, Tatyana. You must also stay healthy, both physically and mentally. So far there have been many things I enjoy within this game, but also many that I don’t.
I really dig this style of game and would love to play more of something like it. I like the idea of having to perform one task per day and sending out others in your party to perform other tasks. It sort of reminds me of Animal Crossing in that way, a much darker Animal Crossing. You can also play through multiple days at once, so the game is not in real-time like Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
I really enjoy the strange and paranormal elements in Chernobylite and would love to see more of that. The beginning featured a bit more of it, but then it sort of died down. Of course, I’m not that far into the story so perhaps it will return.
The main problem I had was with the overall look of the game. It sort of feels like an older game and at many times the visuals are too dark. The nuclear waste mist makes the visuals not very sharp, so everything sort of blends together. For a game where you’re trying to sneak around and avoid combat, it’s very hard to see enemy soldiers. I wouldn’t notice there was a soldier nearby until it was too late. Stealth kills are quite rewarding, since it takes some patience to sneak up on the enemy — but many times I was discovered by the enemy and ended up in a gunfight instead.
There’s also the whole time travel/portal mechanic that’s really neat. I like the idea that once you’ve completed a mission you can either continue exploring the area or use your portal gun to go back to the base. This can be quite a big help when you find yourself in a tough situation. Just whip out that portal gun and get back to base.
I don’t see myself continuing Igor’s journey much longer, but playing some of Chernobylite has me itching to find some sort of survival game that fits my play-style. Something like Don’t Starve that’s a bit simpler, but maybe also something with some combat.
I don’t mind trying to be stealthy in games as long as there’s a way out for when I get caught. I’m not really a fan of stealth missions that restart once you get caught. I enjoy the “find your own way” approach more. In Chernobylite, I have taken out an enemy soldier with my pistol after being discovered. However, it’s only worked in one-on-one situations.
If you’re into survival, horror, inventory management, base building and all of the other stuff I mentioned then Chernobylite may be a good game for you. There may just be way too much going on and I was expecting a simple, spooky story game. Also, I did play this on my next-gen PlayStation 5 but I still ran into problems and some glitches. I’m sure that some of that was taken care of in the latest patch last night.
Chernobylite is now available on PlayStation 4 & Xbox One for $29.99.
The game has been available on PC (via Steam & Epic Game Store) since this past July.
*Once again, we were provided an early review code for PlayStation 4 by the publisher for Chernobylite.
**Played on PlayStation 5.