Chernobylite is a Survival Horror Set in Chernobyl. You’ve Never Seen a Kickstarter Like This.
- Explore the irradiated ruins of the Contamination Zone.
- Environments and characters captured with 3D-scanning on site.
- The most realistic experience of Chernobyl ever created.
Have you ever wanted to go exploring through the abandoned ruins of Chernobyl, but just couldn’t get past the whole internal bleeding and vomiting death thing? Well now Polish developers, The Farm 51, are here to feed your need. From its own description, “Chernobylite is a science-fiction survival horror experience, mixing the free exploration of its disturbing world with challenging combat, unique crafting, and non-linear storytelling.”
But what’s really amazing about this Kickstarter project is how the developers are building it. These professional madmen are creating a virtual replica of Chernobyl and its sister city, Pripyat, by going there and performing photogrammetry scans! All of the environments in the game are modeled on the actual abandoned complexes of the fallen cities, whether from data gathered on foot, or by drone. You can see them traipsing about the Exclusion Zone in the footage below.
Creative Director Wojtek Pazdur was nine years old when the number four reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant suffered a catastrophic failure. Even though he lived a few hundred kilometers away, he remembers not understanding why he was forbidden to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and taking government-ordered iodine solutions to counteract radiation exposure. Apparently they tasted disgusting. Since that time, Chernobyl has become a lingering ghost for Pazdur, a wordless call that draws him back to the silent city.
In 2016, he created the Chernobyl VR Project, an interactive virtual documentary. It was during the construction of this project that Pazdur and his team started becoming familiar with the Exclusion Zone. A few years later, the idea of a survival horror game drew him back to Chernobyl in order to tell “a deeply personal story.”
The Farm 51 describes the city as a real-world post-apocalyptic experience. After several return visits, the team began to ask themselves, “What if you had to spend a couple of weeks here?” In Chernobylite, you get to experience the answer to that question: “Every day, you have to take care of food, medicines, and other resources. Any bullet you shoot could be more useful later, and believe me, sooner or later you will pull the trigger… not necessarily to kill another human being.”
Players assume the role of an ex-physicist of the Chernobyl Power Plant, drawn back to the contamination zone to investigate the mysterious disappearance of their wife. Cooperation will be necessary for survival, and there are several other inhabitants within the Exclusion Zone that you may choose interact with as either friends or foes. Chernobylite’s story is non-linear, and the plot will adapt to your decisions–different playthroughs, different plots. “You don’t get to know how it ends; you decide.”
And remember how the environments are all created with photogrammetry? Well the character designs are all created with an in-house 3D scanning technology called Reality 51. That means each character design actually starts as costume design, which is physically constructed and worn by the developers, who then go to be scanned on location in Chernobyl to create as realistic an effect as possible. The picture below is The Farm 51 graphic designer, Josia, standing in a virtual replica of the actual abandoned building she was photographed in. She said of her experiences in Chernobyl that it “Turned out to be survival camp for me. During our shooting sessions, I had to play in light dresses around zero degrees Celsius. I was freezing, and I couldn’t show it.”
That’s mostly what the Kickstarter is about. “A lot of hard work awaits in extreme conditions of the Zone, with no electricity or internet. But it will pay off,” says the team. “With our Kickstarter campaign, we mostly want to expand the Chernobylite world, with its heart of darkness, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.” That cannot mean what it sounds like, I hear you thinking to yourself. But it does… it means exactly what it sounds like. “To accurately recreate it as a whole game location,” Pazdur says, referring to the god**** power plant, “we need to make several more very difficult and expensive trips. Working close the nuclear power plant, especially inside, under many radiation-related restrictions, is much harder. We know how to do it, but we need your support.”
Have you ever heard of a Kickstarter for a game that was raising funds to help its developers get inside an irradiated nuclear reactor? No… no you haven’t. The Farm 51 has managed to raise almost $40,000 of their $100,000 goal, with 28 days remaining for the campaign. You can pledge anywhere from two to a couple thousand dollars to receive an assortment of awards. I haven’t read through all of them, but I have to assume one of the larger pledges gets you named in thanks during one of the developers’ inevitable funerals.
Chernobylite is set to release in fall of 2019 for Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. You can follow development more closely through the Kickstarter, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the official website. Now at last you can explore Chernobyl, or at least in as realistic a way as has ever been conceived. I may find myself there in time, wandering through the reconstructed world of a hundred thousand photographs, images of the silent city held in eternal stillness, like ghosts that call wordlessly, beckoning us deeper into the ruins.
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