The Farm 51 is a studio with a back catalogue that perfectly encompasses ‘mid tier’. It’s often argued that there’s no longer room for anything but AAA and indie in the games industry. Well, the likes of NecroVisioN, Deadfall Adventures and Get Even suggest otherwise. This is a studio that continually puts out respectable genre-based adventures on a mid-sized budget. Chernobylite certainly doesn’t break that trend.
Chernobylite originally launched back in 2021 for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. A recent re-release saw updated visuals, taking advantage of the new grunt in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. Aside from the visual quality and a few new missions, not much has changed in this new edition. But then, not much has to, as Chernobylite is a perfectly enjoyable game on any format.
The game features an interesting level structure that harks back to early 2000’s FPS design. From your base of operations (which is upgradable) you select your daily mission. This then transports you to another map, wherein you’re free to explore, meet people, gather items and find clues. And of course, get shot at. Once your mission is complete you can use your portal gun to return to your base. It’s simple but effective; giving the player a sense of freedom without the complications of creating an entire open world.
You can also send your AI comrades on missions each day. Their success depends on a number of different factors, and should they fail they may well get taken hostage, or even die.
During specific missions you’ll encounter decisions which need to be made. Depending on your choice, you can ingratiate or disappoint your team mates. However, in an interest twist, there are also points in which you can journey back and review those decisions. Changing them may well alter the outcome of your relationships. Sometimes for the better, but sometimes making them worse.
The game includes a basic crafting system, similar to that in Terminator: Resistance. Collect X amount of ‘electronic parts’ or ‘mechanical parts’ to create an item. It’s pretty basic, but inviting enough to have you scouring nooks and crannies to find the components needs for your next upgrade. You can upgrade weapons and armour, craft healing items etc. However, the most interesting crafting ability comes in that of furniture. You’ll regularly need to craft new items (beds, radiation extractors etc.) to keep your comrades satisfied at your base. But you can also craft items in the field, potentially altering the atmosphere on a map and making your exploration easier/harder, depending on what you craft and where.
The visual quality of Chernobylite is very much a mis-mash. Some environments look incredible, leaning into the new hardware perfectly. Others are little more than passible. Character designs are basic, seemingly covering faces at all times (even when in the relatively safety of your base) to avoid complications with lip-synching. Furthermore, the English language voice acting is simply abysmal. Igor, the player character, has a terrible faux well-to-do English accent while many other characters are intended to sound ‘common’ to the point of almost having a Cockney accent. It’s frankly ridiculous, and you’re better off playing the game in the original Russian dubbing with subtitles.
Ignore the visual and aural flaws and Chernobylite is an fantastic adventure. It’s perfect to be broken down into bite-sized pieces, completing a single mission every night. But in the same regard, it offers a cohesive and compelling campaign which affords longer play sessions. Chernobylite is a highly recommended single-player FPS game. And that’s regardless of whether you’re playing this new edition or on an older console.