First things first, this is not a trailer. This is a full half-hour of gameplay in the pre-alpha demo of Chernobylite. Far more than the usual four-minute blend of pre-rendered cutscenes and choppy gameplay, this video goes inside the game in a way that feels incredibly transparent. Players can see from the footage exactly where the game is in development, and what they can expect the style and play to be in the final product.
As a quick recap, Chernobylite is a survival exploration science fiction horror. Once you finish digesting that word soup, you can ponder what that means, given its setting within the Chernobyl exclusion zone. For the unfamiliar, Chernobyl was a nuclear power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine, that experienced a critical meltdown, killing 31 people and leaving an entire region uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. The area is still considered unsafe, and travels within the exclusion zone are monitored. The Farm 51 developers have traveled the exclusion zone extensively to scan, film, and recreate the area for a prior project aimed at increasing educational opportunity for the disaster. That work is the basis for Chernobylite, the story of a man named Igor who survived the meltdown, but must now return to find his fiance in the last place she was seen alive: The reactor room of the Chernobyl power plant.
Chernobylite seems like it will fit nicely into the current survival subgenre, with several mechanics common to recent games making an expected appearance. Fans of Fallout will be familiar with the way the game handles radiation exposure, knocking down health as long as active exposure is ongoing. Also present is the need to deconstruct the junk left laying abandoned in the exclusion zone and use the resulting resources to build new items. Crafting tables make an appearance in the video, as does a cleaned up bunker used as a refuge. It seems like these may be available in multiple places, as the one shown early in the video is noted to be in a sector controlled by Olivier, one of the other people hanging out in the area.
It is worth questioning whether Olivier is truly another person in the area, though, or an imaginary friend of sorts. Another character makes contact via radio in the early minutes of the video, much to Olivier’s dismay. Others materialize from memories accessed through a strange prismatic dimension. If any of this real, or are the effects of traumatic loss taking a much larger toll on Igor than he realizes? The only way to find out for sure is to jump in and play the full game when it releases. For now, Kickstarter backers can enjoy the pre-alpha demo, and everyone else will have to wait patiently while the game gets a few more rounds of polishing. Hopefully, at least one of those addresses English localization, as the subtitles and spoken dialogue have some odd moments scattered throughout that make it a bit hard to understand. We don’t have any worries that the game will die in the dustbin of good ideas, though; it is fully funded on Kickstarter and making its way through stretch goals. Congratulations, Farm 51. We can’t wait to dive in.
Editor’s note: There are several different accepted spellings of Chernobyl and Pripyat in the English language. Much like localizing a game, we try to pick what will be most familiar to our readers. If you are looking for more information on the disaster itself, whichever spelling you use will pull results from all accepted spellings in current browsers.