The editorial team of Mezha sincerely hopes that despite all obstacles and troubles developers of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl will cope with the task and at the end of the year (we are betting on December 2023) we will finally be able to play the long-awaited game, which had a lot of things that happened on the way to its release. By the way, in less than a month we will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the announcement of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2.
But if you can’t wait another six months [and perhaps more] and want to go back to the Exclusion Zone, we’ve put together a list of Chornobyl games made by other companies. Among them there are several very interesting ones.
Let’s be honest, at first we were going to write about mods for the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat, because what could be better than playing while waiting for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 in the enhanced and fan-fixed original games. But… As it turned out, most of the popular mods for the first S.T.A.L.K.E.R. were created by Russian modders and/or with the involvement of Russians and it is almost impossible to figure out where they are not included now, so we decided to postpone this topic for a while.
The situation is approximately the same with games about Chornobyl. The Russians, as always, do not know how not to steal and consider Chornobyl “theirs”, so they create dozens of games that take place in the Exclusion Zone. It was not easy to separate the wheat from the chaff, but we did it. No Russian games are listed below. All other games on Steam, where Chornobyl is mentioned are with a Russian flavor.
Well, let’s go to the Zone. The games are listed in alphabetical order.
Genre first-person shooter
It’s nice that even in alphabetical order, our list starts with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The game was released in the same 2007 as S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, but six months later. And of course, the missions “All in camouflage” and “Kill with one shot”, which take place in Pripyat, got into CoD thanks to S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which drew the attention of game studios to the Chornobyl zone during development.
These are some of the best missions not only in Call of Duty 4 itself, but in the entire Call of Duty series. Which of the options to try, be it the original Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007) or the very successful remaster Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered (2016), choose for yourself. We recommend the remaster. In the video above, you can see the complete passage of the missions in Pripyat.
Genre psychological horror
Terrible, both in terms of genre and in terms of graphics, psychological horror from Polish developers, which was released on February 21, 2023. But the game itself, in which you have to solve puzzles to unravel the terrible secret of Chornobyl, is not so bad. But it is buggy, although the authors promise to correct most of the errors in the patch. On the other hand, it costs only UAH 26. As the first experience of an indie developer it has a right to exist.
Genre action/RPG, shooter
Chernobylite is a kind of toned down S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 from the Polish studio The Farm 51 (NecroVisioN, Painkiller: Hell & Damnation, Get Even). With small levels that you teleport to, very strange base management and uncomfortable shooting. On the other hand, it is a very atmospheric action/adventure, with recognizable Chernobyl locations, good graphics (especially after the free Next-Gen update 2022), an interesting non-linear plot with references to the events of 1986 and RPG elements.
According to the plot of the game, 30 years after the Chornobyl accident, Professor Ihor Khiminyuk returns to the station to find out the fate of his fiancée Tatiana, who disappeared without a trace in Pripyat on the eve of the accident. He plans to search the entire Zone, but first he will visit Power Unit Four to grab a piece of Chernobylite that powers his portable device that creates portals to different areas of the Zone.
The game was released on PC (Steam, Epic Games, GOG), PlayStation 4 / 5, Xbox One/ Series X|S. We recommend the PC version, after all, it is a shooter, and shooting here is really not very comfortable.
We advise you to check out the DLC The Art of Chernobylite. It is an art book of the game in PDF format. The writers went to the Exclusion Zone, so there are some really cool photos to compare to the game levels.
Unfortunately, the game Chernobyl Liquidators, which was supposed to tell about the events of April 26, 1986, from the point of view of one of the firefighters who arrived at the scene of the fire at the fourth power unit of the Chornobyl NPP, has not yet been released.
At the same time, the authors of the project, the Polish studio Live Motion Games, since the announcement of Chernobyl Liquidators in 2019 managed to release 6 (!) other simulators. But Chernobyl Liquidators is not abandoned, from time to time the authors mention the game and publish regular developer diaries. For now, you can play the demo version, which is available on Steam. This is the very beginning of the game and some shots are very reminiscent of what we saw in the HBO miniseries Chernobyl.
Genre VR experience
Chernobyl VR Project isn’t quite a game, it’s a collection of VR panoramas and interactive objects digitized by The Farm 51 team in the Exclusion Zone. Plus several videos and memories of eyewitnesses to the events.
The game did not reach Steam users, so it remained abandoned in Early Access on this platform. The page was last updated by the developers in 2019. Also, in 2017, Chernobyl VR Project was released on PlayStation VR.
But the work done was not wasted. All textures, panoramas and scanned objects were needed during the development of Chernobylite.
Genre battle royale
Fear The Wolves is an unsuccessful experiment in the battle royale genre from the Kyiv studio Vostok Games, which was created by the natives of GSC Game World. The game was hastily assembled on the wave of popularity of the Battle Royale genre and was released in early 2019.
At the start, online reached up to 611 players, and then quickly fell to a few tens. No players – no battle royale. The reviews, which were initially held at the “Mixed” mark, fell to “Very Negative”.
The game zone in Fear The Wolves is assembled from fragments of the Chornobyl zone. Here there is the Duga radar, a cemetery of radioactive equipment, checkpoint, Kopachi, and other objects familiar to fans of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. There are even some interesting features in the gameplay, but the potential of the project simply did not have time to unfold, at that time there were too many games in the Battle Royale genre on the market, and Fear The Wolves itself was a bit raw.
Isotopium: Chernobyl is a very interesting concept of a physical online game from the Ukrainian team Remote Games. Players are offered to control small physical drones that travel inside a large layout of some area. Mars, other planets, etc. were discussed among the possible future options. But they made a model of Pripyat first!
According to the developers, players were supposed to buy energy to access robots and look for special isotopes on the map that give additional energy or bonuses.
The project was launched in 2018. Isotopium: Chernobyl was played by well-known bloggers, The New York Times and other reputable publications wrote about them, but it did not work out. The players did not come and further development of the idea stalled.
In September 2022, the authors of the project did not have enough money to rent the premises, so the unique layout of the city of Pripyat had to be dismantled. Rent money for the next six months – a year was collected with the help of donations, but the further life and development of the project remain in question. Currently, Isotopium: Chernobyl cannot be played.
Genre simulator, puzzle
A free-to-play game from an anonymous international team about real liquidators with an impressive Steam rating of 95/100. Liquidators tells the story of Chornobyl divers Oleksii Ananenko, Valerii Bespalov, and Boris Baranov, who dived into the suppression pool under the destroyed reactor and opened the shut-off valves to free it of water. Some say that they saved all of Europe.
Having chosen one of the liquidators and armed only with a flashlight and a Geiger counter, you must descend into the darkness and open the same damn shut-off valves. Each of the heroes has their own characteristics, and they will be able to complete the task only by helping each other by successively performing various actions. At the same time, each of the heroes can lose consciousness from radiation and the player must decide to save him or not.
The game has a slightly outdated engine, but it works very well to show the tight spaces under the reactor and the radiation effects. Plus, it adds a retro vibe, emphasizing the semi-documentary nature of the game.
The authors do not ask for money for Liquidators, but encourage players to donate funds to charity. Initially, it was an organization Chernobyl Children International, after the start of Russia’s armed aggression, the authors repeatedly called for players send money to UNICEF to help Ukraine. In addition, the authors emphasize that all the heroes of the game are Ukrainians and are living or have lived in Ukraine.
A single-player shooter for mobile platforms from the Romanian studio Atypical Games. Radiation City is a fairly straightforward attempt to recreate S.T.A.L.K.E.R. on mobile phones Initially, the game was released on Android and iOS, and later an improved version appeared on macOS and Nintendo Switch.
According to the plot, the player must save his beloved and reveal the sinister secret of the zone.
In addition to the shooter part, in which the player has to shoot wild beasts and various zombies and monsters, the game has elements of a survival simulator, that is, finding resources, choosing a place to spend the night, etc. And what is not present in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. – the use of cars!
In Radiation City, there is Pripyat with all the main attractions – Polissia hotel, Prometei cinema, swimming pool, etc.
Interestingly, the Android and iOS versions of Radiation City have pretty good reviews, but the Nintendo Switch version reviews are extremely negative.
Developer Asobo Studio / Xbox Game Studios
In Microsoft Flight Simulator, the entire planet Earth is represented, so the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is also there. But by default, it does not look very good. Fortunately, users have added details.
The best mod for MSFS with Pripyat and Chernobyl is Chernobyl NPP and Pripyat town from a Ukrainian user with the nickname TedStricker. He also created an improved version of Kyiv with almost all sights and newly created buildings – Kyiv City Landmarks.
And the author of this article collected Chernobyl Bush Trip – an aviation trip with Kyiv through Hostomel to Zone, Pripyat, and then Slavutych. If you’re using Microsoft Flight Simulator for PC, be sure to give it a try. This short flight, the video of which with an old model of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant you can see below, clearly demonstrates how close Chornobyl is from the capital of Ukraine.
We did not intentionally post this material on the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, it happened by accident. But, if this has already happened, we suggest that we remember all those who risked their lives and health to tame a peaceful atom that got out of control. It is a shame that now Russia, which has captured the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, is once again blackmailing the whole world with a nuclear holocaust.
From San to Don: Ukraine in video games