Editor’s Note: Chernobylite is a game that came out of nowhere, and captured a lot of fans on the PC through platforms like Steam. Our reviewer on the Steam platform really loved the game, awarding it 4.5 out of 5 GiN Gems. He compared it to other titles set around the Chernobyl reactor disaster, namely the STALKER series.
As fun as the game was on the PC, it was not perfect. There were a lot of somewhat clunky mechanics, although PC gamers are kind of used to that, so it was pretty tolerable. Now that the game has been ported over to the console, including next generation consoles, we thought we would loop back with it and see how it goes over there. GiN Reviewer Michael Blaker was given that task, so lets give him the floor…
Hey all! I’m back with another review. It’s Chernobylite for the PlayStation 5.
Plot: The plot is okay, it’s not amazing, but it’s not terrible either. Frankly it’s a pretty typical “horror” story, which brings it down in my eyes since I tend not to like those personally, but it’s a functional if not really intriguing story. I’d probably not care as much if the gameplay was spectacular but…
Gameplay: It’s sadly not, frankly the gameplay is clunky as hell. It’s perfectly functional and you can get stuff done without issue, but there’s just so many little steps and issues that occur that just bring down the entire experience.
For example early on you get a little Radar and Giger Counter device, that you have to equip manually, which takes a few button presses assuming you have it in the “Quick” Item menu. Then once you have it equipped you can use the correct button to scan the area, which doesn’t highlight enemies, at least at first, but does highlight some supplies near you. Unfortunately you can only do it every 10 or so seconds, with no indication of the cooldown ever occurring before or during that process. And the selection function to set the scanner to look for a specific resource that you might need, is really confusing and not explained at all. This is just an example of how the game is not a perfect port from the PC version.
If you want to fire a gun it’s another whole process. You would assume having a pistol or rifle or shotgun out and ready to fire would be a default state considering how many nasty enemies are out in the game world, but that isn’t the case. Instead you again use the “Quick” select menu, which takes three more button presses before it’s equipped. Then you need to aim down sights before firing. And this occurs for everything in the game. It’s not non-functional, but it takes just so damn long to get stuff done that I just wasn’t having too much fun playing the game. I was looking for more of a smooth shooter interface, and Chernobylite was not giving it.
Gameplay for a game like this should have as few button presses to perform an action as possible, and Chernobylite doesn’t do that. So when you are ambushed by a hostile creature, you end up fumbling through the menus just to grab your gun. Do things work in Chernobylite for the console? Yes. Is it easy and quick to do everything? No, and that’s just not good game design, or maybe a bad example of porting a good game on the PC over to the console.
Art: Chernobylite does look very pretty, which is nice and I’m told that it actually uses real locations taken from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone almost exactly which is really cool, but it’s not spectacularly outstanding in terms of art design. It’s just kinda normal looking, which does fit the reality of Chernobyl, as it was just a normal place before the accident.
There are some graphical issues I saw popping up during play. For example there’s this weird thing that occurs every time you perform an Aim Down Sight, it just flows too fast like they sped up the animation to play at 1.5 times for no particular reason. If you do it repeatedly it’s very noticeable. It’s not terribly impactful on the game, but does show that certain things weren’t really optimized properly for the PlayStation 5’s hardware I think.
Music: The music is okay, it’s not terrible, and it does really set the spooky feel of the setting, but it’s not particularly memorable other than that. There is an option to listen to the game being voiced in Russian, which I tried for a bit since it’s the default setting, but I sadly don’t know Russian at all, so the dialogue was just confusing to me in terms of audio.
Overall: Chernobylite is a perfectly normal game, but it gets bogged down on the console by a poorly made user interface that is incredibly user-unfriendly. Still, there is a decent game under all of that, but it’s not necessarily worth getting over something like No Man’s Sky if you want to play a more user friendly survival style game. If they cleaned up the interface a bit, it would likely be a lot more fun for console players.
For those who like: Horror, Survival, Action, Drama, Some FPS Action.
Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above, or Clunky User Interfaces.