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Video Game / Chernobylite

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Igor Khymynuk on the left, the Black Stalker on the right.

Chernobylite is a Survival Sandbox with RPG Elements, developed by the Polish developer The Farm 51, who had earlier created Get Even. The game was based off of their earlier experience creating a VR model of Pripyat; it was funded on Kickstarter on May 11th, 2019, and released into Steam Early Access on October 16th, 2019, with a full release for PC on July 28, 2021, and for consoles on September 7, 2021.

The protagonist is a scientist named Igor Khymynuk, whose fiancé Tatyana went missing at the time of the Chernobyl disaster, who comes back the Exclusion Zone to search for her thirty years later. Or rather, he is interested in seizing Chernobylite, the mineral formed as the result of nuclear meltdown which was found to have a range of properties defying conventional physics up to and including the potential to control the flow of time, and using that to reunite with Tatyana no matter what. However, Igor isn't the first person to have thought of that, the Exclusion Zone once again hosts a sizeable presence of Russian forces from the specially formed NAR division.


Gameplay is a mixture of Survival Sandbox, Stealth-Based Game, and Renovating the Player Headquarters. At the start of each day you pick an area of Pripyat for Igor to search for clues about Tatyana, along the way you collect resources, and at night you build up your base to give you access to more advanced equipment.

On April 26, 2022, Chernobylite received a free Nex-Gen upgrade which significantly improved the game's visuals, and an Updated Re-release in the form of the Enhanced Edition.

While S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is the obvious reference point, this game has no direct relation to it. It is also unrelated to, CHERNOBYL: The Untold Story another 2019 game whose storyline directly involves the Chernobyl disaster.


Tropes present in Chernobylite:

  • Action Survivor: Igor's a physics scientist with little to no experience with firearms, but he's capping NAR soldiers like a pro within a few hours of raiding the zone (though he seems to feel pretty bad about it). Killing in self-defense during a hot firefight doesn't hurt his psyche (usually), but it is guaranteed to take a hit if he uses a lethal takedown on an enemy or snipes an unaware enemy.
  • BFG: The game includes a powerful rail gun that acts like a semi-auto rifle that just punches through almost everything, but the true BFG of the game is the Plasma Gun which even functions similarly to the classic Doom BFG: A slow moving green ball of energy that explodes on contact and kills pretty much everything around it. At that point the game goes from "how does Igor survive" to "how does NAR survive him?"
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Professor Semonov, your old mentor who is currently the NAR's chief scientist, convincingly claims to be a Reluctant Mad Scientist being forced to work for the NAR, but the Ariadna flashbacks prove he's a cold-blooded sociopath and the game's human Big Bad, eagerly engaged in cruel human experimentation and the real mastermind behind NAR's many war crimes, who thoroughly deserves a bullet to the head, though due to the game's consequences system killing him may bite you in the ass later on regardless.
    • The ending reveals that for most of the game, the Tatyana you've been hearing was actually the Chernobylite entity manipulating you into becoming its conduit into the human world (though the inhuman growling she occasionally lapses into probably clued you into that earlier). You only encounter the real Tatyana on a few occasions.
  • Boss-Only Level: The final level of the game, the climactic Heist on the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, has no real combat to speak of, instead consisting of a series of scripted events in which you must make decisions which determine whether your companions live or die. The only real fight in the level is the Final Boss confrontation with the Black Stalker.
  • Call-Back: The Ariadna device is an improved version of the Pandora device from Get Even. Igor, its inventor, even mentions Pandora in a flashback, suggesting the game shares a universe with Get Even. If you have subtitles on, Igor's boss is revealed to be Grace from Get Even.
  • The Caper: Most of the game is spent assembling intel and members for "The Heist" the missions to break into Chernobyl and rescue Tatyana. The preparations are tracked on a board labelled "The Heist" in the base.
  • Climax Boss: You and your team take down Colonel Kozlov, the field commander of NAR, just before your final heist on the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
  • Cool Old Guy: Igor is in his 50's or 60's at minimum, yet is able to survive quite handily in the Zone, defeating both hostile soldiers and otherworldly creatures. Sashko even comments that Igor is impressively spry for a pre-Perestroika Soviet-era scientist. ( However, it turns out your character is a sort of clone and was actually born in the late 1980's. Though the real Igor is still an example of this trope, as he's the Black Stalker). Tarakan is also elderly, and has set up boobytraps all over Pripyat as well as managing to kill multiple NAR soldiers (including nailing one to a wall with multiple fence posts) when they finally came for him.
  • Creepy Doll:
    • The opening cutscene simply provides a first-person view of the abandoned hospital, and lingers on a doll placed on a bare bed frame, before said doll's eyes mysteriously flash green.
    • Dolls found in the Zone in-game exhibit similar, as well as heading turning, talking like dead loved ones, and disappearing. You can also decorate your base with them.
  • Damsel in Distress: Igor risks everything for his incursion into the exclusion zone in order to potentially find and save his missing bride, Tatyana, even if it'll require altering the past.
  • Dialogue Tree: A simplified dialogue tree with two options occasionally shows up; sometimes it's used for flavour (like when deciding how to respond to teasing from your guide in the prologue), and at other times for story decisions like determining the fate of the mind control array.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Colonel Kozlov, the NAR's military leader, is the leader of the NAR forces around Chernobyl, but he's a standard military officer and it's his superpowered Chief of Security, the Black Stalker, who represents the greatest threat faced by Igor.
  • Elite Mooks: Sergeants have twice as much health as regular NAR soldiers, Armored Soldiers favor shotguns and have almost three times as much health and require at least 3 headshots or several torso shots to kill, and Elite Soldiers have better skill and over 4 times as much health and take multiple headshots to kill.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Companions that leave your group due to your Relationship Values reaching 0 may show up during the Heist, acting in opposition to your group.
  • The Faceless: Almost every single character wears a face-concealing gas mask. The only in-game character model whose face you ever see is Tatyana and even she is mostly seen from behind at a distance. Sashko, Olga, and Colonel Kozlov wear mouth-only masks rather than full face concealing masks, but it still obstructs much of their face.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The first-person perspective prevents us from seeing Igor's face. While the other characters have portraits in their dialogue windows that show what they look like under their masks, Igor's portrait has him wearing a mask that obscures most of his face.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Heavily Armored Soldiers are the toughest enemy soldiers, wearing heavy body armor that gives them a whooping 2000 health and most importantly, an inability to do takedowns on them.
  • Heel–Face Turn: It's possible to get Colonel Kozlov himself to help you during the Heist if you took the right actions throughout the game. If you save his nephew Glyeb (the boy being held hostage by NAR in the prison), send him to the village, and prevent Kostya from poisoning the village, Kozlov will locate Glyeb and the boy will convince his uncle to help you.
  • Implacable Man: The Black Stalker attacks you at several points in the story. He has a whooping 3000 health (standard soldiers have 120 health), uses Teleport Spam to move around, and attacks you with a Chernobylite energy weapon that deals heavy health and radiation damage. Several shotgun blasts to the face will cause him to retreat, however.
  • Interface Screw: Taking damage in combat can cause effects like camera shaking and slowed movement from trauma. This incentivizes the use of stealth.
  • Item Crafting: A significant element of the game.
  • It's Probably Nothing: In the prologue, Igor loudly climbs over the perimeter fence, which attracts the attention of two nearby NAR soldiers and forces your two guides to abandon their attempt to climb over themselves and just flee back to the sewer entrance. The guards say it was rats, prompting their CO to yell at them that the truck they found on patrol didn't drive itself there.
  • I See Dead People: Soon after crossing the power plant's perimeter, Igor starts hearing the voice of Tatyana and sees visions of the power plant's ghosts.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: The default melee option. It is also surprisingly viable simply because the enemy AI often freezes up when you are up in its face, unable to either shoot or melee back.
  • Green Rocks: The titular chernobylite is a very straight example, literally being a glowing green crystal that stores unlimited energy within it. While it is technically a real mineral formed as a result of the nuclear meltdown, the near-mystical properties the game awards it (up to and including being able to power the portals through spacetime) are obviously fictional.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: As the game progresses, the Chernobylite infestation at the Nuclear Power Plant gets bigger and bigger. On the final day (Day 15 in the initial build, though it gets pushed further and further as more content is added), the power plant explodes and you get sent back in time to Day 1, though you get to keep your level, inventory, and base progress and retain knowledge of the future you can use to change the outcome of events (such as being able to recruit Tarakin immediately on the 1st day by knowing exactly what to say to him on the radio, instead of having to do several missions to earn his trust). In the latest build of the game, this also occurs if you die.
    • This gets deconstructed when it's revealed that each 'time travel' caused Igor to shift into an alternative timeline, meaning all the horrible decisions you made in each iteration have real consequences for the alternate timelines, which the Chernobylite entity will use to troll you by making the ghosts of your 'erased' decisions call you out. Also, some of the other loop's survivors are disgusted that they are forced through the loops for your benefit.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The prologue has a truck full of guards not being able to see two men helping a third man over a fence. However apparently they're not that bright as their CO yells at them for being idiots because the truck they found didn't drive itself there.
  • The Mole: Olivier turns out to have been hired by Dr. Semenov to spy on Igor during his expedition into the Zone, which explains why he always argues for Igor to not kill Semenov or pursue vengeful/excessively violent actions against NAR. However, he's also been genuinely helping Igor due to anger at the Black Stalker for killing Anton, which wasn't part of the plan.
  • Multiple Endings: The game has at least 3 different endings, based on 2 Last-Second Ending Choice. There's also a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue that tells you the individual fate of each main character after the end of your adventure.
    • Destroy: You destroy the portal, preventing Chernobylite from entering the human world. However, this results in Tatyana's death as she was being used by NAR to power the portal. She considers it a Mercy Kill, given the state NAR was keeping her in.
    • Commune: After entering the portal, you merge with the Chernobylite entity, allowing Chernobylite to fully invade the human world, which will eventually lead to humanity being assimilated by it.
    • Reject: After entering the portal and confronting the Chernobylite entity, you sacrifice yourself to break its control over space and time, removing Chernobylite from the world.
  • Mundane Utility: Chernobylite can be used to break space and time, but the basic property of the mineral is probably its most useful: it absorbs radiation to grow, leaving the otherwise deadly and contaminated reactor area of Chernobyl cold and nearly radiation-free. All your anti-radiation technology uses Chernobylite in it. But even that is not the most mundane use for it: you can make fancy decorations with it around your base just for fun.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: After you complete the prologue, it's strongly implied that Igor's travels through the space-time continuum using chernobylite are shattering the very fabric of space-time itself, as anomalies like storms of green lighting begin to show up. The Black Stalker straight up tells you that you have to die because all your teleporting around searching for your missing wife is screwing up the space-time continuum.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: The game's default dialogue is native Russian with subtitles. However, if you choose the English dialogue option, everyone will speak English with incredibly British accents, despite most of the characters being Eastern European. This actually makes it impossible to tell the nationality of characters who are supposed to be foreigners, such as a pair of flashback characters who seem to be foreign agents of an unspecified non-USSR nation.
  • 1-Up: Adrenaline syringes revive you to full health when your health is depleted to 0. You start the game with one, and can craft additional ones, but having the equipment to do so requires being pretty far into your base's construction.
  • Optional Stealth: It is possible to avoid some NAR troops, or sneak up on them to get stealth kills. This is helpful, as killing enemies lowers your psyche and has detrimental effects (though nothing a little alcohol or mushroom soup can't cure). Unlike the developers' previous game, Get Even, killing enemies doesn't affect the game's ending, unless they're a major character.
  • Press X to Die: You can construct at your base a suicide chamber whose only purpose is to kill you. Eliminating yourself this way is one of the only ways to die without losing some items. You can use it to reset the Groundhogs Day Loop.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: The Black Stalker is Igor's old colleague Dr. Boris Glukhov, who injected himself with Chernobylite nanoparticles believing that small doses administered over a long period could turn him into a superhuman without the horrific consequences seen in other test subjects. He was at least partially successful, though he is no longer human or even technically alive.
  • Psycho for Hire: Averted hard with Olivier. While he won't hesitate to kill when he has to, most of his skills he teaches you are about avoiding combat and killing. He also expresses concern about potential civilian causalities, and doesn't hold Anton's death against Igor.
  • Sanity Meter: Killing enemies lowers your psyche level, which has detrimental effects. You can dull the guilt and raise your psyche with either alcohol or mushroom soup.
  • Self-Deprecation: Olga, who teaches the inventory management skill (which increases your inventory size), lectures you in the middle of her lesson about how the only woman on the team being the only one to teach inventory management is a sexist stereotype (she's wrong, Mikhail also teaches a skill related to inventory size). It's pretty clear the developers are taking the piss rather than making a serious statement about anything.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • Team members whose Alliance Meter bottoms out will become disillusioned in your leadership and will permanently leave the group, even potentially showing up in the final mission to try and screw up your plan.
    • Semenov, the game's human Big Bad, will do this if he survives the events of the game. Realizing his evil megalomaniacal plans almost got him killed, he'll decide to retire into obscurity.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Shotguns deal heavy damage at close range and are the best weapons for indoor combat, especially against Shadows, but ammo for them is somewhat rarer than for the revolver or assault rifle.
  • Shout-Out: In the tutorial mission, Igor reads his is Geiger counter and says "3.6... Ummm, not great, not terrible."
  • The Smurfette Principle: Olga seems to be the only (still human) female you meet in the Zone, as well as the only female member of your team.
  • Techno Babble: Igor drops a bunch of references to "Calabi-Yau" and "Hawking bridges" when explaining how his time machine works. Olivier responds that it makes him sound like a supervillain from a bad movie.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: 'Igor' is actually a clone, created by the Chernobylite and infused with the real Igor's memories to become its unwitting champion. His surrogate mother? Tatyana.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: All of the NAR soldier guns are biometrically locked to their owners, so you are unable to use them. You can very rarely receive a rifle from searching a soldier's dropped gun, likely reflecting a rare case of the lock being broken.
  • Villain Teleportation: Igor can use his portal gun to go into a wormhole that takes him back to base but doesn't seem to have much "fine" control over it otherwise, so you only use it to end a mission and go back to base. Meanwhile, the Black Stalker can appear or disappear at will through a portal making evading him extremely difficult, and the final fight with him has him use straight-up Teleport Spam to confuse you.