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Steam bestseller is a recreation of Chernobyl’s disaster zone

Chernobylite’s makers visited and scanned the eerie exclusion area

The ruins of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the 2019 PC video game Chernobylite The Farm 51
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

One of Steam’s newest bestsellers has an interesting feature: Chernobylite, says its developers, has a 3D-scanned recreation of the real-life exclusion zone set up after the 1986 nuclear disaster.

Available now in Early Access, Chernobylite is (as one might expect) a post-apocalyptic survival role-playing game from The Farm 51, a Polish studio that last October delivered World War 3. The Farm 51 says the map of Chernobylite was built by developers who traveled to Ukraine and 3D-scanned the actual exclusion zone, “which is a huge area,” they correctly note.

“It’s physically not possible to enter every room in every building and scan every inch of the 1,000 square-mile landscape,” The Farm 51 said. “Therefore we’d like to collect as many scans as possible, but keep following the players opinions and shaping the final design of the locations together with our community.”

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone was set up and marked off after the disaster near Pripyat, Ukraine, then a state in the USSR, 33 years ago. Today, visitors are permitted, and mostly come in on one of the many tours organized by Ukrainian companies. Tourists find ruins and remnants of life seemingly frozen in the moment of April 26, 1986, when the fourth reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded. Thus, there is an actual place on Earth that resembles the post apocalyptic landscape many video games attempt to replicate.

Chernobyl and its exclusion zone have already been the basis of the STALKER series of survival-horror/shooter games by the Ukrainian studio GSC Game World. It’s been referenced in other video games and sci-fi stories, too, most recently an eponymous miniseries on HBO. For its part, The Farm 51 says that Chernobylite contains “branched paths with alternate endings,” and even if a player reaches one conclusion in Early Access, the finished game will have different outcomes.

Chernobylite’s current build is “filled with the real scans of the Zone’s objects, gameplay events and mechanics, story characters and quests for the player.” It is available for $29.99 for Windows PC.

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