The developers of The Farm 51, the Poland-based indie studio making the survival horror RPG Chernobylite, have consistently traveled to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone to make their game as immersive as possible. Creative Director Wojciech Pazdur revealed in a Reddit AMA session held on June 24 that he’s traveled there about 20 times.
Chernobylite uses 3D-scanning in a way not seen in many other games, for every part and piece of the real Chernobyl Exclusion Zone seen in the game is a digital copy of the real object. Other games known for using photogrammetry are big-budget titles like Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil 2 Remake. Chernobylite’s team “spent years developing the tech and pipeline” to achieve this feat and make Chernobylite’s setting as immersive as possible.
“It took us a lot of time,” says Pazdur. “We’ve been going to Chernobyl Zone every month or two for about four years.” When estimating his trips to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, he says they would be about 20. It wasn’t easy to do this. In fact, despite being a “big adventure,” it has been the team’s biggest challenge. Working in the Zone means having no access to electricity or internet, while also facing plenty of restrictions due to the high levels of radioactivity.
Pazdur states the team had to go through special governmental procedures to work in the Zone often and for a long time, as well as to go to places that are normally closed off to tourists. Once the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the team was forced to stop their trips to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone for almost one year. Thankfully, the team had “already collected enough 3D scans to work on the locations” for the next two years.
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Chernobylite is meant to be a survival game that allows the player to rely on non-combat gameplay styles. While the average tester has taken about 30 to 40 hours to finish a full playthrough, the game’s non-linear story makes it possible to take much longer or shorter to finish it. Players are also able to keep playing after finishing the main campaign. Pazdur says the team has plans for “many updates with new content, both around the game release and later on.” The team’s intent is to support and expand the project after the full version launch, just as the team has supported it throughout the whole Early Access period.
This has all been achieved with a relatively small team, as the size of Chernobylite’s team is “about two times smaller” compared to the team on the studio’s previous game, Get Even. “We’ve focused on creating better technology and shaping the design of the game to be achievable within a smaller team,” says Pazdur. “It was not just about the budget, but about the control over the process of developing the game and being able to explore some unique production approaches and design decisions that are not available for a big production. Chernobylite is much more indie game than Get Even.”
While future content plans include more explorable areas, weapons, and enemies, Pazdur says there are no plans for co-op or multiplayer. He says all DLC will be free for Early Access supporters.
Chernobylite was one of the best games we saw earlier this month at the Guerrilla Collective 2021 Showcase. On Steam, it has a “mostly positive” rating from over 3,000 Early Access reviews. It will be coming out of Early Access on PC on July 28. Pazdur wrote in a reply during the AMA session that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One releases are still planned for the summer.