This browser game lets you control real-life robots in a scale model Chernobyl

Isotopium Chernobyl is a game about driving tanks through Chernobyl, picking up energy items in order to survive. It's a pretty dull concept on paper, but obviously there's a twist: the tanks are real robots, and the Chernobyl depicted in-game is a real scale model, presumably housed in a warehouse somewhere in Ukraine.

The 210 square meter model is cleverly constructed: look into the drab grey skybox and you'll eventually realise that it's not sky you're looking at, but paper. According to the company responsible, Remote Games, equipment is used to simulate wind, smoke "and other real-world effects".

I signed up for Isotopium to give it a shot: once my email was verified I was plonked into a tank, which I controlled using WASD. Almost immediately, I entered a small shed and got stuck. Then, because I hadn't picked up any energy power-ups (called isotopes), I ran out of energy. In order to continue I had to pay. 

"Players’ main objective is to collect rare 'isotopes' from all over arena," according to the project's Kickstarter page. "Players will solve puzzles, explore the hazardous ghost city of Pripyat, take part in contests and quests, and fight for survival. The entire area is equipped with wired data transfer network to link all the elements of the arena together."

This is the payment scheme at present, in the event that you run out of energy (and you will):

It's a really neat concept, and even on a subpar internet connection such as my own, there was no latency or juttering. Controlling the tanks is kinda cumbersome, but they are tanks, after all. It's definitely worth a shot, even if it forces your hand into payment a tad too quickly. 

Here's a lengthy video of someone giving it a shot:

...and here's a picture of someone from Remote Games, kneeling in their miniature Chernobyl:

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.