Title: Escape From Chernobyl
Developer: Atypical Games
Publisher: Atypical Games
Genre: Adventure, Action, First-Person Shooter
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 23/01/2020
Price: £8.99 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
The disaster that happened at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in 1986 was horrific and is still considered the worst nuclear disaster in history. Escape From Chernobyl is the continuation of the game “Radiation City”; but much like its source material, this game is also a disaster.
Escape From Chernobyl starts you off right in the centre of an exploded reactor. It quickly runs through the controls and then you’re off to escape. At least that’s what is assumed, as the game gives you almost zero indication of what the plot is or what you’re expected to do. Often games that are part of a series expect you to have some knowledge of the lineage, but even then, they will still give you brief rundowns or flashbacks. Escape From Chernobyl does not, and without playing its predecessor, you would have no idea why you’re where you are or how you got there.
The game is dark (it’s a horror game what did you expect), but you’re given a flashlight that offers you some vision, not that it’s much use. The level design is also confusing, very repetitive, and it’s easy to get lost when you’re in an open area.
Aside from the constant threat of being killed by zombies, you’re also tasked with ensuring your character does not succumb to radiation poisoning. This is measured by a bar which is directly beneath your health bar, that when full will cause your health to decrease. You can easily combat the radiation by taking medication to reduce the effect (although these aren’t as common as you’d like so you need to be careful) or by walking into one of the green orbs that appear in the world which will reset it to zero.
You’re in a nuclear reactor after a nuclear disaster, so surely everywhere is radioactive? Nope. Miraculously the radiation is limited to certain areas of the world, usually highlighted by bright blue, glowing lights on the floor. Don’t worry, and you’ll know when you’re starting to gain an increase to radiation as the screen becomes fuzzy and blue, making it incredibly hard to see where you’re going. This would have been a great mechanic, as a secondary stressor to the normal horrors of a survival horror game, and is a great way to add a sense of danger, but it’s let down by the rest of the game.
Another saving grace is the crafting mechanic. Allowing you to pick up parts that you find during the game to create supplies to aid and heal yourself. This is a great way of bringing the player to focus more on inventory management, or else be at risk of being unable to heal.
This game is available on other platforms, namely mobile phones, and graphically it reflects that. Bringing up your inventory screen will show you your avatar; this image is more akin to a game from the N64/PSX era than modern home consoles. It seems that there is a lack of polish and care with this game. As stated earlier, the game is dark, but darkness in addition to repetitive and boring buildings does not deliver a good experience. The zombies could look scary and could be horrifying if it were not for the fact that about three audio clips are used over and over again for their moans and groans. It becomes repetitive quickly.
It should be noted that you’ll never not know when you reach a checkpoint. The game lets out an almighty clanging sound that was the only true scare that was experienced whilst playing, namely because it’s so jarring. Another thing that holds this game back from being truly scary is that there are so many glitches and bugs. Often when respawning the game can drop you in the wrong place, completely disorientating you in a world that’s already confusing enough to walk around. Hit detection in this game is a myth, you could be as close as possible to an enemy and swinging your crowbar, missing with each attempt. It’s things like this that break the immersion and caused more fits of laughter than moments of genuine terror.
Escape From Chernobyl is not a good game. Any horror that could be present is held back by the games lacklustre visuals, repetitive audio and persistent glitches and bugs. It makes you wonder how a game could be released in this condition, and with it being on so many platforms is this a case of the team being spread too thin? Whatever the reason, give this one a miss.
Rapid Reviews Rating
Escape From Chernobyl can be purchased for the Nintendo Switch at the following link: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Escape-From-Chernobyl-1707904.html