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Exclusive: Chernobylite's survival systems were inspired by research trips to Chernobyl

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Chernobylite is a survival-horror RPG in the tradition of Stalker, set in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The latest developer diary, exclusively provided to PC Gamer by The Farm 51 and All In! Games, focuses on the survival half of the equation. 

As game director Artur Focjik explains, exploring the Zone is full of dangers like radiation, a nemesis who pursues you throughout the storyline, and supernatural events connected to a mysterious substance called chernobylite that's appearing around the game's fictionalized version of Chernobyl. That's not enough, according to Focjik, which is where the survival elements come in. 

"So apart from such very immediate dangers," he says, "that could actually kill us in a moment, there are things that kill us over time." The examples he gives include the old survival game standby of starvation, but also "low morale, mental problems." In Chernobylite you have to put together a team of companions with useful skills, but you'll need to worry about how they're feeling as well as whether they're fed and equipped.

Creative director Wojciech Pazdur explains that inspiration for Chernobylite's survival and crafting mechanics came from the developers' research trips to the Exclusion Zone, which they 3D-scanned to use as a reference for the game. Things like the electronic components they found scattered around became part of the crafting system. "We found real chemical tanks there," he says, "not to mention the tons of scrap metal that lie somewhere there, which have just been smuggled into our game." 

Wasn't he worried about the risks of making multiple trips to Chernobyl for the sake of research? About radiation and, you know, mutation? Apparently not. "I could count these trips on the fingers of one hand," he says, "that is eight a year."

Chernobylite is currently in Early Access. The full version will be available through Steam (opens in new tab), GOG (opens in new tab), and the Epic Games Store on July 28.

Jody Macgregor
Jody Macgregor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was published in 2015, he edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and actually did play every Warhammer videogame.