This year has been pretty stacked with game releases, with a number of titles on my watch list releasing in the last couple of months alone. Chernobylite has been on my hard drive since it launched for consoles on September 28. However, with the release of Death Stranding Director’s Cut on September 24 and Alan Wake Remastered on October 5, sacrifices had to be made and games had to played. This left Chernobylite simmering on my back burner. But as any stew aficionado will tell you, the back burner is oftentimes where the real magic can happen.

After finishing Death Stranding and Alan Wake, I was finally ready to fire up Chernobylite. I am happy to report that it is pretty good.

That is no sleight, mind you, “pretty good” in video game rankings is a surprisingly high bar to clear in my book. And although Chernobylite is far from perfect or groundbreaking — and maybe even falls slightly short of must-play status — it is a solid entry in the survival thriller genre. You should check it out if you’re a fan of base building, community management, Chernobyl lore, the Metro games, or methodical FPS action-light games. Yes, that is quite a list, but trust me when I say that there are few games like Chernobylite, which utilizes systems from a number of sources. On a Venn diagram of gaming interests, this would overlap a surprising amount of specific tastes.


The basic concept is that you are a Russian scientist who lived through the Chernobyl disaster and lost his wife in the ensuing chaos. Decades later, you hire a couple of Mercs to watch your butt as you enter the exclusion zone in the hopes of ultimately finding your lady, preferably alive and well.

Along the way, you’ll set up a base of operations, one that you can fill will all sorts of craftable items from armor, ammo, and workstations to gardens in wooden crates, generators, and storage containers. You’ll gain members along the journey (which culminates in what’s essentially a big heist), and you will be responsible for keeping those people happy, healthy, and engaged. You’ll need to provide beds, ensure food rations are doled out equally, and equip these folks with the gear they need for better excursions and a higher survival rate. And with the positive/negative impact that most items have, it can be a bit of a juggling act to keep this complex machine running smoothly.

Early on, I started to experiment with some of the workstations, which ate into my available power surplus, which lead to the lights in our base flickering. As it turns out, the flickering lights adversely affected my squad. So I realized that not only would I need a power surplus to keep my crafting stations running, but there was also an imperative to make sure my team was sleeping well enough to tackle the missions for the next day. Although there are no hunger or thirst meters, you do have to make sure you source enough food to feed yourself and your crew, which can be found in each small sandbox level or while your crew members are out on their expeditions. Of course, you’ll eventually be able to craft gardens and grow food at your base.

So instead of a personal hunger meter, you now have multiple mouths to feed. The amount of food you give to each team member will determine their strength and devotion, basically. Depending on how you dole out the resources, some team members might get jealous if they think you are playing favorites or being unfair, which can impact their engagement and performance.


Each character, including yourself, also has an emotional meter which can be depleted and will also negatively affect performance if not monitored and tended to. This could be as simple as your character stabbing NPCs instead of choking them out, for example.

The levels in the game are broken up into small chunks. You have your main headquarters, from which you launch daytime missions. Here you can choose to go out and find resources yourself, or you can delegate that to your teammates if you instead prefer to follow the more structured main questline (which is what I did). With diligent scrounging, you can still find resources while completing these story missions, which not only progress the story but can also lead to securing more team members or stumbling upon gear stashes. And once you launch a mission, you then get to explore small sandboxes that are separate from other maps, where you’ll find resources, progress through the story, and engage in combat with the enemy armed forces.

Occasionally you’ll come across mutated creatures, which offer a different combat style than the traditional militant guards. You also have a chance of a mysterious figure warping into your zone that is hunting you down and can somehow track you. And this dude is tough — he can really gum up the works if you happen upon him at inopportune moments. Oh, and there are also pockets or radiation that will certainly rain on your parade if you’re not careful.


My biggest gripe so far is the voice acting. The English dub is almost exclusively done by British actors, which is a little disjointed when they are supposed to be Russian. But on the other hand, the Russian actor that voices your character in their native tongue is hilariously over the top. Like, the dude sounds like what I imagine Vladimir Putin would sound like in some perverse erotic fan fic that he wrote himself.

I still have much to do in Chernobylite, but so far I have found an engaging and unique experience that has been scratching several itches at the same time. I look forward to seeing where the heck the story takes me. The base building and team management have been rewarding thus far, and there are still a number of options I haven’t explored yet. My team is still a few people short for the final heist, whatever the heck that will entail.

If anything I’ve gabbed about strikes your fancy (and most of this is just scratching the surface), and you’ve got $30 to spare, Chernobylite might just surprise you.

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