Chernobylite Review - An Enjoyable Horror Shooter RPG Mystery Game

What the hell is a Chernobylite? It sounds like a light radioactive beer. It refers to a new radioactive compound born from the infamous nuclear plant meltdown.
Chernobylite is a survival horror RPG set in the exclusion zone of Chernobyl 30 years after the event of the devastating historical meltdown. Developed by The Farm 51, a Polish-based development team that traveled to Ukraine to scan the real-world site.

*THERE MAY BE SPOILERS*

Chernobylite was released on PC in July 2021, later coming to consoles in September. Now there is a free Next-Gen upgrade for consoles and PC, and I was asked to check the game out and share what dark secrets I found buried deep in the ruins of Chernobyl. I was interested in this game then, as it looked similar to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Metro. I am also always on board for a good horror experience. As some may know, I am a horror game enthusiast and try to play most of them (Fight me, Maria, for top horror game connoisseur, check out her article on The Nightmare Inside).


When I first read the description for Chernobylite, I scoffed at the “horror” part and thought, “Yeah, let’s see.” To Chernobylite's credit, it actually has some very tense moments and amazing sound design that will leave many stopping dead and spinning around to find what nightmare just made such a horrible noise, but not me, at least not after the first few times. I have also been pleasantly spooked by a few good jump scares and have gotten severe goosebumps from some of the truly eerie visions you see. There is a point where you come across a room with a single TV on with a gaggle of dolls all watching the TV. When you turn the TV off, everything goes black, and you hear giggling, and the dolls have vanished *shudder*.

A Brief Lesson in History

Igor's missing Tatyana

Here is some background, you play as Igor Khymynyuk, a physicist that had previously worked at the Chernobyl plant and is now in search of his fiancée Tatyana, who went missing in the disaster. Straight away, something feels… wrong! You start on a train and Igor is looking for Tatyana, who has disappeared. You follow her image, which turns to ash as you approach, and monsters appear. After learning how to move and shoot, you wake up to learn that it was all a dream. Igor is on a mission to infiltrate the old Chernobyl plant with some companions, and of course, things go very wrong. The plant is now guarded by a military sect called the NAR. You barely manage to escape to a refuge in an old warehouse with Olivier, a STALKER ("STALKER" is a backronym for Scavengers, Trespassers, Adventurers, Loners, Killers, Explorers, and Robbers) you hardly know or trust. It is here that Chernobylite starts to define itself.

An anomaly strikes while looking for resources

To survive in the exclusion zone and find out what happened to Tatyana, you need to face each day tactically, preparing yourself, your allies, and your base for what is to come. Similar to Fallout 4’s building, you are tasked with clearing out your base and building a hospitable living environment. If you like crafting, you are in for a treat as just about everything in the game can be crafted, provided you have the materials and lots and lots of mushrooms! (I don’t know why, but many of the recipes require mushrooms, bleh). In order to get the materials you need for all the furnishings of your beautiful hillside apocalypse camp, you need to forage, salvage, and pick clean bodies you come across or make. I can’t remember another game that made me feel like collecting resources was so critically vital to success except maybe The Last of Us, but even that doesn’t feel as crucial in comparison. Thankfully, each mission gives you a preview of the kind of resources you are likely to find.

Let's Mix It Up

Missions and character progression are refreshingly different. While not as open-ended as S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Chernobylite is a more confined experience. You are tasked with various missions, but you can only do one mission per day per character. Not something you typically see in games like this. You can assign missions to your companions to complete while taking on a mission of your choice. After completing your objective, you return to base to see how your companions fared and give out rations. Rations and base upkeep are crucial to keeping yourself and your companions healthy and “happy.” In true RPG fashion, you earn XP for just about everything you do, and when you level up, you earn a skill point. Unlike most RPGs, the way you use the skill point is very clever. Instead of opening a menu screen and looking at a list of skills to unlock, you have to talk to your allies and ask them to train you in areas that they are experts in. Olivier, for example, trains in the use of pistols and stealth. When you ask to receive training, you ACTUALLY do the training! Not just bing! Now you know how to do this. I found this to be a very cool mechanic, which added a lot of realism to an otherwise fantastical supernatural setting. 

The workshop.

That training is necessary as Igor being a scientist, is not the greatest shot. In the early hours, it is better to rely on stealth and sneaky takedowns on the NAR soldiers that patrol the exclusion zone. It also affects your psyche when you kill people adding even more weight to your choices and how you deal with your foes. There are a number of factors that affect Igor’s psyche and health, including radiation poisoning. You can craft various items to address these ailments but it costs a lot of resources. I found myself hesitating to take out guards in my way as I knew it would devastate my psyche, which I had little to no treatment for. Then I found vodka!

Parks And Recreation Vodka GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I decided to see what happens if you drink the bottles of “alcohol” you find and to my joy, it completely refilled my psyche. Meaning I could continue on my now drunken murder spree. After getting a few lessons in shooting, I was satisfied with how much better I was performing in firefights. I went from narrowly surviving a shootout with my measly pistol to dropping multiple soldiers before reloading. Hard work does pay off!

Fellow Couch Soup writer and player of video games Andrew Lucy, had played Chernobylite when it first launched, so I asked him to share some of his thoughts on the game.

Andrew’s Take
While playing Chernobylite on the Enhanced PC Edition, I found myself comparing the incredible atmosphere and graphics to that of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. with its constant supernatural elements, music style, First Person Shooter, and storytelling. This game is BEAUTIFUL, and with its intuitive game mechanics, you will not have a hard time picking it up and playing for long periods.

After spending a little time playing this game, I found out that the dev team at The Farm 51 had ventured out to the Exclusion Zone in Ukraine to map out locations in and around Pripyat to give you that haunted feeling of an abandoned place. That kind of research for a game should at least give you a little insight into how much love was put into this game! 

Another thing I found out when playing was that there is no Freeplay on the console edition, which was odd to me since it is on the PC version. Freeplay is a mode where you can go to any location in Chernobylite and experiment with the weather, guns, have events happen, and perks! It's more of a sandbox feel, and the mode separates from the storyline, giving you a place to experiment with the game how you see fit.

"KILL IT!"

If you love horror games with shooting mechanics, a dash of intricate game mechanics, and a story to keep you hooked, you will love Chernobylite”.

That’s a Whole Lotta Green

I am glad that Andrew touched on the work that the developer put into creating Chernobylite and that they had 3D scanned the actual environments. Fortunately, they were able to do this before the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia. It is difficult to not be aware of current world events while playing a game set in an already scarred part of human history. The environment looks incredible for a budget-priced game. The look and aesthetics are the first things I noticed about Chernobylite. Its vibrant use of greens contrasts an otherwise desolate world. The Xbox Series X version I played seemed to have a fair amount of motion blur, which can be distracting but not enough to ruin the experience. You can tell where The Farm 51 cut back on some things like facial animations, as most characters have a mask on, but this allowed them to pack so much into the game. There is such an incredible amount of detail in every piece of equipment, computer monitor, and random tools. It is hard to believe this is not a typical $60 or $70 game. Enough to make you wonder why the big publishers and studios are not putting out better quality sometimes.

Creatures like these are rare but challenging.

Geiger Counter Results

Chernobylite is an enjoyable horror shooter RPG mystery packed with science and sci-fi-y to make any nerd, nerd more. The solid gameplay could be akin to a Metal Gear Solid spinoff as you desperately sneak around and evade your foes. Your choices feel impactful and allow for variations in individual playthroughs with some genuinely memorable story beats and hilarious dialogue with some of the not-so-sane characters. A few bugs tend to cause it to crash, and frame rate drops can lead to some jarring moments. If The Farm 51 had a bigger budget and more time, this game would really shine. An otherwise beautiful presentation, fascinating story, and genuine good time make Chernobylite a great game, 8 out of 10 Soups.

When asked for a score Andrew agreed that although not perfect, Chernobylite is a fun game worth your attention. Andrew’s Score: 8 out of 10 Soups

Are you a fan of the begotten wastelands riddled with nuclear waste and radioactive monsters and mutants? Have you played or want to play Chernobylite? Let us know in the comments.

Check out the gameplay trailer
https://youtu.be/IP0BrPe5gok

Monthly Update: September 2021 Game Releases

September will be kicking off with a bang with the fall release schedule of games. There is a lot of variety getting released to boot, from little indie’s to big-budget action; we have a lot to look forward to this month. Get your pocketbooks ready! It’s about to get crazy this holiday season!

 

September’s Highlights

Tale of Arise - Sept 10th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC)

Tales of Arise is the latest installment of the long-running RPG “Tales of” series. The planet of Dahma has always been ruled by the planet in the sky, Rena. You play as residents of Dahma that are often used as slaves trying to find freedom. Experience the most stunning Tales game yet powered by Unreal Engine 4 with dynamic action RPG battles and classic Tales gameplay. Dive into this vibrant new world and rich story on September 10th.

 

DEATHLOOP - Sept 14th (PS5, PC)

The much-anticipated game from Arkane Studios is finally here. A true “next-gen” title coming to PC and PS5, you will be taking down your foes with glorious style and precision. Deathloop has you playing as two deadly assassins that have to relive a time loop to find the best possible way to reach their target and put an end to the time loop trapping everyone inside. An innovative take on first-person action, Deathloop will allow players to find a preferred playstyle, be it stealth or guns blazing. End the Loop of Death on September 14th.

 

Aragami 2 - Sept 16th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, Gamepass, PC)

You are an Aragami, a group of elite warriors afflicted with a supernatural condition that corrodes the body and mind. You also control Shadow Essence, a mystical power to control the shadows. Go it alone or work with two friends to free the village from invaders who are enslaving the Aragami. The shadows are your ally in this 3rd person fast-paced stealth action game, where you build your own shadow assassin to save and protect your people. Become a master ninja in Aragami 2 on September 16th.

 

Kena Bridge of Spirits - Sept 21st (PS4, PS5, PC)

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is a story-driven action-adventure set in a charming world rich with exploration and fast-paced combat. Players find and grow a team of tiny spirit companions called the Rot, enhancing their abilities and creating new ways to manipulate the environment. Kena has been developed by Ember Labs, an animation and digital content studio, and is their first-ever game. There has been a lot of anticipation for this gorgeous Pixaresque looking adventure since it was revealed. Help Kena and befriend The Rot on September 21st.

 

Diablo 2 Resurrected - Sept 23rd (PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch, PC)

Diablo 2 Resurrected is a fully remastered version of the original action RPG, which many believe to be the best. It will have the same classic gameplay as the remaster is built on top of the original game. It will feature cross-progression across all platforms with updated features and support for modern gaming needs. The entire game, including monsters, items, and spells, has been updated, including the original expansion, so you get the full Diablo 2 story in one package. Play with up to eight people and return to this classic adventure or play for the first time on September 23rd.

 

The complete list… (Updated*)

Big Rumble Boxing Creed Champions - Sept 3rd (PS4, Xbox, Switch)

KitAria Fables - Sept 3rd (PS4, Xbox, Switch)

The Medium - Sept 3rd (PS5)

Chernobylite - Sept 4th (PS4)

Sonic Colors Ultimate - Sept 7th (PS4, Xbox, Switch)

WRC 10  - Sept 7th ( PS4, PS5, Xbox)

Hindsight 20/20 - Sept 9th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch, PC)

Life is Strange True Colors - Sept 9th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC)

Olympia Soiree - Sept 9th (Switch)

NBA 2K22 - Sept 9th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch, PC)

Tale of Arise - Sept 10th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC)

Lost in Random - Sept 10th (PS4, Ps5, Xbox, Switch, PC)

Colors Live - Sept 14th (Switch)

DEATHLOOP - Sept 14th (PS5, PC)

Ever Forward - Sept 14th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch, PC)

Where The Heart Leads - Sept 14th (PS4)

Aragami 2 - Sept 16th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, Gamepass, PC)

Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom Prince's Edition - Sept 17th (Switch)

Tails of Iron Crimson Knight Edition - Sept 17th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch)

Lost in Judgment - Sept 20th (PS4, PS5, Xbox)

Apsulov: End of Gods - Sept 21st (PS4, PS5)

Kena Bridge of Spirits - Sept 21st (PS4, PS5, PC)

Diablo 2 Resurrected - Sept 23rd (PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch, PC)

Death Stranding Director’s Cut - Sept 24th ( PS5)

The Addams Family: Mansion Mayhem - Sept 24th (PS4, Xbox, Switch, PC)

FIFA 22 - Sept 26th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch)

Hot Wheels Unleashed - Sept 26th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, Switch, PC)

Alchemic Cutie - Sept 28th (Xbox, PC)

Lemnis Gate - Sept 28th (PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC)

New World - Sept 28th (PC)

Open Country - Sept 28th (PS4, Xbox)

Streets of Rage 4 Anniversary Edition - Sept 28th (PS4, Switch)

Insurgency: Sandstorm - Sept 29th (PS4, Xbox)

RICO London - Sept 30th (PS4, Switch)

The Riftbreaker - Sept 30th (PS5, Xbox, Gamepass, PC)

Xuan Yuan Sword 7 - Sept 30th (PS4, Xbox)

 

What game are you most looking forward to playing this September?

 

Why Monster Hunter World Is Worth A Shot!

In 2004, Capcom wanted to test online play on the PlayStation 2. They released 3 games that year and set a goal to sell 1 million copies of each game. The first Monster Hunter game was one of those three. Fast-forward to 2018 to when Capcom released Monster Hunter World for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, followed in 2019 by the Iceborne expansion. These newest releases brought in new players to the storied franchise that had those humble beginnings over 16 years ago.

Here's why it's a great game for you to join us in the Monster Hunter franchise!

Journey to a new world

Lance users poking their way to victory!

In the base Monster Hunter World game, you play as a Hunter of the Fifth Fleet. Your assignment is to provide research support on exploring the New World, a continent far away from the Old World (part of the prior Monster Hunter games). Your Fleet is assigned to find and research Elder Dragons who are supernatural beings that migrate to the New World every ten years. The Elder Dragons can affect the natural world around them. Along the way, you fight monsters, both big and small, to get better armor and weapons as the mystery of the migration unravels. 

The Iceborne expansion adds a new storyline about how a new mysterious ecological phenomenon is affecting the New World. It also adds gameplay mechanics, such as the Clutch Claw, that build on the core gameplay that Monster Hunter World already established.

Did you get all of that? Good! Let's look closer at what you'll love about the game itself.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Part of the appeal of Monster Hunter World, attracting both newer and veteran players alike, is the simplicity of its gameplay. The learning curve isn’t as steep as prior Monster Hunter titles. The game provides a training area to get a grasp of how to play and to try out all 14 weapons. Each weapon is catered to a certain way of approaching a hunt. Want to be the tip of the spear? Be a Lance user. Need verticality and mobility on a hunt? The Insect Glaive is the right weapon. Is supporting the team a necessity? Then consider the Hunting Horn. There is something for everyone! 

The radial wheel menu

Also, the new Radial Wheel feature is the perfect way to use items on the fly. You can even access your healing items from the Radial Wheel, such as potions for yourself or Life Powder for healing your teammates. It's easy to customize the Radial Wheel to add shortcuts to items you'll need the most. Plus, you can easily craft items while on the Radial Wheel if the required materials are in your item box. For us veterans, gone are the days of pressing the left and right directional pads to access and use items!

Finally, I have to talk about the Slinger and Clutch Claw. This nifty gadget will make a Hunter more versatile than ever before. You can hang on to a monster’s limb with the Clutch Claw and wound it for higher damage, then drop Slinger ammo to use and interrupt a monster from attacking. 

The most important feature of the Clutch Claw is the almighty FLINCH SHOT! When a monster is in an alert state (the monster icon on the mini-map shows a yellow eye), aim the Slinger on the head and activate it so that you land on the monster’s head. Then, you can strike the monster on the head causing it to turn around. With Slinger ammo in tow, launch that monster to a wall if there’s enough distance! The monster will knock itself down, creating an opportunity to deal damage. (Keep in mind, though, that the Clutch Claw is only included on the Iceborne expansion, not on the base game.)

The Flinch Shot in Action. Yeet!

With all these features, the game must be easy right? That really depends on how far you have progressed through the story, getting better weapons and armor along the way. There will be monsters that will test your mettle and faint, causing you to lose a try during the hunt. When you fail a certain number of tries, the hunt is a failure. You'll need help at some point, but I'll talk more about that later. In short, once you know the monster well and know its attack patterns, then it should become easy for you!

A colorful cast of monsters

The Hunter is the main character in Monster Hunter World, but the monsters are the stars of this game. There are plenty of monsters to fight against, and each has its own unique attacks and features. Monsters from prior titles return in this game, including the franchise’s flagship Rathalos, which breathes fire and uses its tail to deal poison damage. 

Yes, that is a Hunter riding a monster.

The game also includes new monsters like Tzitzi Ya-Ku, which uses its fins on its head to emit a flash of light that stuns anyone in its vicinity. If you're not careful enough, Odogaron causes bleed damage with its bite and scratch attacks. The monster designs can vary from the goofy like Pukei-Pukei, to the cool like Zinogre, to the weird like Shara Ishvalda. 

Even more awesome are the variants of those monsters exclusive to the Iceborne expansion. Paolumu in the base Monster Hunter World is just a giant flying cotton-ball that can blow people away with its wind attack. But its variant, Nightshade Paolumu, uses the same wind attack to make you and anything within its blast radius fall asleep. Also, Anjanath breathes fire while its variant, Fulgur Anjanath, blows snots of lightning. (Yes. Snots of lightning.)

Whether playing the base game or the expansion, you'll have plenty of challenges to face and fun to be had. And certainly going alone on a hunt is an option, but if it's too much to handle solo…

Help is on the way!

There are plenty of ways to get help during a hunt. The simplest is with Hunter's sidekick, the Palico. This computer-controlled anthropomorphic feline partner provides support by either attacking the monster with you or using the Palico Gadgets the Hunter equips it with to give health, get monster materials, or distract a monster. But mileage can vary when it comes to the Palico's usefulness. They either can be a lifeline or just dead weight. 

Another way of getting help is to invite friends to a party. That does mean having friends who actually have the game on the same platform (Xbox, PS4, or PC). If possible, grab a friend on the same who's played the game for a long time! But if you are in a pinch and need help during a hard hunt, there's also the SOS Flare, which sends a flare that other players in the World will see and can come to help. Those responding can be Hunters who have the best gear or someone who's the same level as you. Either way, getting help is easy. No man is an island, after all!

A team of Hunters taking care of business.

 

Join the hunt!

Monster Hunter World is a great entryway to the main Monster Hunter franchise. With simpler gameplay than its predecessors, players can get into the action faster than ever before. A diverse roster of monsters to hunt brings more challenges and more gear to be the strongest Hunter in the New World. And help is always available in various ways. So if you want to try this, it’s all worth the time and effort to be the best Hunter out there. And if you enjoy World, maybe you'll want to try the prior Monster Hunter titles. Each title has its quirks and features that make it unique and fun! 

A quick tip: If you're interested in games like Monster Hunter World, check out this recent article about another game, Dauntless, a free-to-play game that's designed with a similar premise and gameplay.

Do you think Monster Hunter World is worth a shot with all these features? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and HAPPY HUNTING!

 

This is a Hunter who fainted. Don’t be this Hunter.

GreedFall: An Under The Radar RPG Worth Looking At

GreedFall is a little known single-player Western-style RPG that was released in September 2019 by the developer Spiders. Although reviews were generally very good for this game, it's one that I feel didn't get enough publicity. How did I not know about this game? I was scrolling through PlayStation Now to see what they had recently added and came across this game that intrigued me, so I decided to give it a shot. I was not disappointed.

The city of Theleame

GreedFall is set in what looks like colonial Europe. You play as De Sardet who is a Legate (diplomat) of a faction called the Congregation of the Merchant Guild. You can play as male or female. There aren't a huge number of customizations, but, in the end, I was satisfied with how my character looked. 

As De Sardet, you are to accompany your cousin (the prince of Serene) to a little known island called Teer Fradee. You are colonists, and your job as Legate is to become a diplomat between all of the warring factions. They include the natives of the island, the Nauts (the seafaring faction), the coin guard (bodyguards and warriors for hire to anyone who pays), the Bridge Alliance (scholars and alchemists), and Theleame (fanatic evangelists). 

One of the wild creatures that you will be up against in GreedFall

Participate in political intrigue with these multiple factions to gain standing. As the Legate of the Merchant Guild, you and your faction are neutral but must use your wits, and sometimes strength, to bring about certain outcomes in the story. Theleame and the Bridge Alliance are at war, so you always have to tread carefully when dealing with issues that will affect one or the other. 

You can play as three different character types: a magic user that casts offensive and defensive spells, a stealth-type fighter with traps and crowd control, or a warrior type melee class. The talent trees are very RPG. There are skill trees that you can put points in as you level based on your play style. If you decide you want to use firearms instead of two-handed weapons, you can do that. And if you decide to wear heavier armor as a magic class, you can put points in that ability as well. It's very customizable. 

An example of some of the elaborate headdresses worn by natives based on nature

In my first playthrough I went very hard into Charisma and I played as a wizard so I was able to cast spells. I was able to talk my way out of most situations and bring a diplomatic solution to a problem. But the charisma didn't always work, and there were other ways the game had for me to solve the problem. There is also a lot of combat on the road because of strange creatures in the new world and thieves along your path. 

As you move through the storyline, you pick up five different companions. This part reminded me very much of Dragon Age, but I honestly liked this system better because each companion has different talents that let me build my party of two companions at a time as each situation requires. You don't have to command companions as you would in other RPG games.

Two of the companions you will see in GreedFall

Each companion is also from one of each of the different factions throughout the game, so you choose them based on what faction you may have to deal with or what type of fight you're in (if you have this information ahead of time). For example, if you are going to speak to natives, it is usually helpful to have your native companion with you. If you want to speak to the Naut faction you would have your Naut along. Switching out companions like this tends to make the factions you're talking to a little more comfortable in the conversation. And they can sometimes do the talking for you if you choose to take that route. 

You can become close friends with your companions as you complete certain quests for them and with them. These are usually side missions, and while some of them are not always pivotal to the storyline, they can have a great effect on how your companions feel about you. You can romance companions and even lose them if you do not complete their storylines in a satisfactory way. Each dialogue option has several choices, and the way that you choose can have a great impact on how the story progresses. 

A ritual performed by the natives to speak to the island

The storyline is very interesting, and it really drew me in. While you do play as a colonist, you're also looking to find a cure for a blood disease called the Malichor that's claiming lives on your home continent, and this new land of Teer Fradee may be the key to finding that cure. Learn the rituals of the natives, defeat the island guardians (who are terrifying to look at), and find the heart of the island to help you in your quest. I did my playthrough on easy mode so that I could get as much of the story as possible. In the future, I will likely play in a harder mode. This game is great for multiple playthroughs as each decision you make can alter the story in a different way. The game can be glitchy in areas, but the story, scenery, and fascinating creatures make me appreciate the developers' work immensely. If you're a fan of fantasy single-player RPGs and are looking for a possible sleeper hit set in a pseudo-historical setting, I would recommend giving this one a try. It's out on Game Pass for Xbox and PS Now for PlayStation. 

Check out this short game play clip to get an idea of the action and visual richness of GreedFall:

How about you? What is it about an RPG that makes you want to play it, and even multiple times? And what sleeper hits are you happy you didn't miss out on?

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