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In the Zone

Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl is set in Ukraine in the aftermath of a fictional second disaster. The first disaster was bad enough and the world is still dealing with its fallout. There are safety restrictions and precautions still in place today because of it. Is it too soon for a game in this setting?

Set aside that question and consider the setting itself. The phrase “bleak beauty” will come to mind. There are times when the player will feel the need to stop playing and simply savour the atmosphere. It can be eerie, it can be desolate but it can also be strangely beautiful.
Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl: making tracks
It can also be chilling. There is the terror of being in underground catacombs with an almost invisible creature stalking you. The horror of watching a crate slowly and supernaturally rise in the air and fly towards you. Something malefic, out of your sights but close enough to have you in its, wants you dead. If it doesn’t get you, something else will. Death comes frequently in the game.

The player is no superhero and you are not here to save this world. You are here to survive it long enough to discover who you are. To survive Stalker’s world, you will have to scavenge and scrounge. A corpse is a treasure trove. A found backpack can be the difference between survival and death.

The NPC AI in combat is impressive. The opposition will duck and find cover when things aren’t going well, flank you when they have the numbers and generally behave like they, too, want to survive. The default difficulty level will prove frustrating to most and the new player would be advised to dial it back down to the lowest setting. Life is especially short in this strange otherworld in the shadow of Chernobyl and one must do whatever it takes to survive.
Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl: making tracks

Posted in Games.


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