Indie Review: Chernobyl Commando
Chernobyl Commando is a newly released indie military first person shooter developed by Silden. Does it bring anything to the shooter genre, or make any impact? You'll have to read on to find out.
- Worth The Time?No, unfortunately not, as it doesn't really bring anything to the table.
- Things LovedThe graphics are good, it's well-made, the shooting is solid.
- Things HatedThere's no variety at all and as such it gets way too repetitive too quickly, animations are stiff, it can sometimes be tough to see enemies in the background, occasionally inconsistent level design, it's quite bland, it doesn't bring anything to the table really, far too many turret sections.
- RecommendationUnfortunately, this is just another average and forgettable shooter in a severely over-saturated genre, and as such I can't recommend it.
- Name: Chernobyl Commando
- Genre: First Person Shooter
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Silden
- Publisher: Silden
- Price: R72.15 (currently 20% off at R57.70)
- Reviewed On: PC
Chernobyl Commando is a newly released indie military first person shooter developed by Silden. I was looking forward to playing it because, as I’m sure you know by now, I completely love the indie scene and get involved in it as much as I can. However, to be really direct here, this game didn’t remind me why I love the indie sector, and sadly I have to say that I walked away from this one in low spirits. But I’m jumping the gun a bit here. Let’s start with the basic premise of it first. In the game you play as captain Yuri Ryakov of the Russian Army, who is sent into battle in Chernobyl alongside captain Fedor Strushyn in order to destroy enemy transports and pursue terrorists who have stolen radioactive material. That’s essentially all there is to the plot. It doesn’t become anything more than that, which is alright as it’s an adequate setup to get you into the whole business of killing terrorist scum.
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Before getting into the game, I have a few thoughts to discuss, some of which may seem harsh but I feel they need to be said. Personally, I think it’s treading dangerous grounds for indie developers when they attempt to challenge the big guys, let’s call them “mainstream” so we have an easy term to work with, at what they can’t win at. You don’t get a clearer example of this than the modern war shooter genre, probably the most over-saturated of genres out there right now. Most gamers would agree that because indie developers have total creative freedom with their projects, we come expecting creativity. We naturally know the budget and production limitations in these games, and that’s why their biggest strengths are individuality, innovation, experimentation and creativity. Successful indie games are usually creative, unafraid to take risks, stylish and have an identity, and do their best to stray away from being generic. Unfortunately, Chernobyl Commando has made no attempt to achieve any of this. It has glued itself to a very small portion of the rules of a standard military shooter, and as a result it has left itself with no room to live and breathe on its own or bring anything remotely different to the table. Effectively, it’s an indie game that plays it completely safe in the worst genre to do exactly that.
If I have to be brutally honest, I’m sort of left scratching my head regarding what to say about this game. There are literally only two things you’ll be doing. You’ll either be killing armies of enemies on foot, often with your allies in battle with you, or taking out armies of enemies during one of the game’s many, many turret sections. There’s no variety at all, and because of this it sadly gets repetitive extremely quickly. If I recall correctly, by the third mission I had already done four turret sections, either with me taking charge of a stationery PMT machine gun or climbing into the back of a vehicle, manning the turret and cleaning house. From beginning to end, there are only these two aspects of gameplay. There are no other scenarios. There’s nothing to break up the action, or diversify it. There are no unique elements at all. I’ve virtually explained the sum total of the gameplay to you already.
Perhaps what saddens me the most though is that the game is actually well-made, and it’s easy to see that effort was put into it. The shooting itself is solid, the interface is comfortable, the game looks good graphically speaking, and from a technical standpoint there are no major issues. Environments and models are nicely detailed, and the setting is effectively realised. I did feel there needed to be more variety in the landscape and environment though, as you only see a change towards the end of the game. The sound work is of a good standard, and the tracks are cool to listen to. My only nitpick would be that you can hear the track loops as they start up again. But among all these little pros and cons, the biggest problem with the game is that it just doesn’t really do anything. It doesn’t bring anything to the table, it doesn’t differentiate itself, and neither does it do much at all to be worth remembering.
Other issues include a small range of nitpicks and inconveniences. For one thing, it can sometimes be quite tough to see enemies in the background, as they blend in especially at a distance. Enemies often also display freakish accuracy, and are able to hit you from miles away. There were also a few instances of inconsistent checkpoints that led to frustration, where some were too far back and forced me to repeat an extended turret section. I’ve already established that the graphics are quite good, but a little nitpick would be that animations, especially with enemies, are a bit stiff, and characters don’t open their mouths when they talk. Another graphical shortcoming would be that explosions look a bit iffy, and not as good as other areas of the game. Finally, I found the weapons enjoyable to use, but there are only machine guns and sniper rifles, and a single silenced pistol that you won’t ever use because you don’t get opportunities to be stealthy. The game needed more here. Perhaps a shotgun or even more grenade types would have gone a long way in improving the combat variety.
I’ll be honest. I don’t like bashing indie games. But I refuse to hold them to a lower standard either. I won’t make concessions on quality or lower my expectations when I get blown away and find myself extremely impressed by indie games and developers on a daily basis. When I’ve played some indie games that completely put mainstream attempts to shame. This is really a time in gaming where we should be raising our expectations. The talent swimming around the indie pool right now is nothing short of incredible, and I’m constantly excited by that. With regards to Chernobyl Commando, hopefully, the developers here will learn from any shortcomings and from feedback and bounce back with something better when it comes to their next project. I would certainly hope for that outcome.
In the end, Chernobyl Commando is well-made in parts, and effort was clearly put into it, but unfortunately it’s just really repetitive, bland and has absolutely no identity of its own. It doesn’t bring anything to the table or do anything to stand out or differentiate itself. It’s sadly just another forgettable shooter in a severely over-saturated genre, and it’s just not what I turn to indie games for.