Chernobylite has finally made its way to next-gen consoles. After releasing on the PC in 2019, PS4, and Xbox One in 2021, we are now seeing the title make its way to the Xbox Series X|S and PS5. While the game has changed little, in between the console generation but the game is more or less unchanged, except for graphics and optimized FPS to make the most of the stronger hardware.
At one point in the world of PC gaming, the post-apocalyptic survival genre was a major genre, with games like Fallout introducing the genre. With the release of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, a new sub-genre was introduced – post-apocalyptic survival in a post-meltdown Chernobyl. The game was revered by PC gamers at the time for the unique survival mechanics, amazing graphics, and other realism aspects found faintly in other FPS games of the time.
The post-apocalyptic genre continued with Fallout, and the torch of surviving a post-nuclear apocalypse in Russia was passed on to the Metro series for a period, but Chernobylite is looking to give players the S.T.A.L.K.E.R before the eagerly anticipated return of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl later this year.
Chernobylite does a lot of stuff great, but the redundancy becomes dull and monotonous very fast, but is equal parts challenging and rewarding.
You play as Igor Khymynyuk, a Russian scientist on the hunt for his wife who mysteriously disappears, and he believes that the answers to finding her lie in a power plant and on the search for his missing love, unravel a web of conspiracy that he wasn’t prepared for.
Along your journey, you must build a crew and keep them engaged, motivated, and prepared to take on the final battle that lies ahead. You must balance sending your squad on missions, distributing food and supplies evenly among your crew, recruiting them, and building a base that can sustain all of you.
As you go out on your missions, story or otherwise, Igor can find clues and hints that he must collect and put together to understand the events that will lead to the finale. This helps encourage exploration, even if it means going into risky territories as you never know where your next clue could be hiding.
Along the way, you will have to forge new alliances, and enemies, and make many difficult decisions that can drastically affect the final squad that follows you for the final mission. You can try to be diplomatic or ruthless, but the decisions you make will greatly impact your ability to have a smooth or rough playthrough.
All of this setup culminates to an epic battle that gives Igor all of his answers and even more, but the setup of getting there can prove to be a true challenge at times.
As mentioned in the story, the game does a little bit of everything. It has a lot going for it, to the point where it feels a little overwhelming.
Igor is tasked with building and maintaining a functional base that is furnished with weapon upgrade stations, comfortable beds and furniture, generators, and other major amenities needed for surviving in a post-nuclear apocalypse Russia.
As your base continues to grow, as do your responsibilities and the number of materials needed as well.
To help with this, you can send out your recruited squadmates on missions while you can also choose to pursue a story mission or help them gather crucial supplies, food, ammo, and other resources to improve the base.
With an improvised Geiger counter that doubles as an item scanner in the environment, Igor is able to search for items such as electronic parts, herbs, and mushrooms in an area while staying out of radiation.
Another cool feature of the game is that when you finish the mission, you can stay in the area at your leisure and use a portal-gun-like device to travel back to your base when you feel like you’ve explored enough.
You can find travelers in the world and you have the choice of inviting them to your base or letting them be on their way. If you bring them on, you must walk a tightrope of responsibility in balancing making them happy, fed, and carefully sending them to missions. However, there will be points in the story where Igor has to make a major decision that will upset one or more members of your party, and this is something that isn’t set in stone.
The game has a unique mechanic where it lets you go back in time to major points in the story to redo a decision. However, this still won’t be enough to undo your decision and its impact on the members of the party.
In addition, the game has a very intriguing base-building mechanic. It is all within the confines of your building, so you don’t have to do anything outside. However, you must play a very careful game of balancing limited resources to make other people in your squad happy. This means making adequate furniture, decoration, crafting stations, generators, and other important structures to help yourself and NPC in your squad keep their morale and motivation fueled.
The game has a semi-open world formula. At the start of your day, you can choose people to send on missions in various parts of the open world, and depending on who you choose they can be killed, captured, or never return, so this is important to keep in mind as losing an NPC can be a major loss. Igor is only able to do the story missions, so this is also worth remembering when dividing the tasks.
With a dynamic weather system, you can count on different conditions to either make your missions easier or harder, depending on the conditions. Rain greatly helps you in stealth, sunny days make it easier to be seen, etc.
The last mechanic of the game is Igor having a psyche meter. This is a major encumbrance in the early game as stealth kills reduce Igor’s psyche and you need to craft medicine to bring it back up or consume the right item.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a post-nuclear apocalypse if there wasn’t the risk of exposure to radiation. This is another hazard to watch out for as being exposed to radiation can have a lot of adverse effects on Igor.
In the end, the game also has your run-of-the-mill inventory system, talent points, and other staples of the genre, and finding individuals to help you improve your talent points is also a major part of the game.
Graphics and Sound:
The graphics do have a better polish on them compared to the PS4 and Xbox One versions, particularly to the foliage. On the Xbox Series S, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the 2K at 30/60 FPS modes (resolution and performance), and while the difference was barely noticeable, it did pay off to see the game with a new coat of paint. Particularly when compared to the PS4 and Xbox One versions.
In addition, the load times were a bit of a nuisance at times, but this can hopefully be addressed in a future patch.
The sounds of the world are very immersive and engrossing. You’re always hearing something in the environment and the few moments of silence are unsettling as you are reminded that this once was a populous place, now abandoned.
All in all, Chernobylite is a great game that offers a lot and makes you do a lot to enjoy it, but fans who enjoy a challenging experience and revel in immersing themselves in a world similar to that of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. will find themselves right at home. At half the price of a AAA title, this is definitely worth the visit to the exclusion zone.
Chernobylite is a great indie hit that will scratch that itch left by Metro.
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This review is based on the Xbox Series S version of Chernobylite. The key was provided by All in! Games.