Chornobyl Liquidators: Review

chornobyl liquidators review cover

Chornobyl Liquidators is a game developed by Live Motion Games and published by Frozen Way. The game was released on 6 June 2024 on Steam.

Chornobyl Liquidators tells the story of what happened during the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, focusing on the Liquidators, military firefighters who tried to contain the spread of nuclear radiation in the area around the power plant.

Our task is seemingly simple: put out the fire and find a way into the power station to evacuate the personnel and try to secure the area. But many of our heroes die of radiation sickness while trying to do this.

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The plot of Chornobyl Liquidators is not only focused on the power plant, but also on the nearby town of Pripyat and the surrounding villages. Here we are tasked with cleaning up the radiation and helping and persuading people to evacuate.

But while we are cleaning up, we are also involved in KGB activities. We became informers for the KGB and soon found out that the secret services were trying to hide something about the accident.

Chornobyl Liquidators: I like smoking radioactive cigarettes

Chornobyl Liquidators is a first-person game with photorealistic graphics. The gameplay is similar to a walking simulator.

Walking simulators are immersive games, usually in first-person view, that focus on the storylinecarrying the feeling of the protagonist to the player. There are some puzzles, the player has to make important choices that change the story and so on. So these are games that focus on narrative rather than action.

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This description doesn’t fit this game very well. But it is also difficult to place it among the action games. Why are we so confused?

Because the game has a lot of flaws that ruin the gameplay.

The cutscenes are in cartoon style, they are cute, but one has English subtitles and is dubbed in Russian. Another has no subtitles and is voiced in English, and another has subtitles and is voiced in English. Why do they do that? Why not just one way?

There is no depth to the narrative, and the dialogue with the other characters sounds like people who are barely reading from a script. There is more pathos when a robot reads a grocery list.

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The slide on the edge of a building is a more interesting thing than this dialogue.

The only well-acted dialogue is in Act 3, when we talk to the old babushka. This dialogue really does put you in the position of someone who is trying to talk to an elderly person with a hearing impairment.

During the first act, many characters die from radiation sickness. After each death, we see a card with brief information about the unfortunate person. A good narrative device to convey to the player the severity of the situation, which is completely ruined because the next person literally pops up on top of the aforementioned dead body. A cutscene, a dialogue would have been a good thing to introduce the new character.

Chornobyl Liquidators screenshot

Speaking of narrative and realism, we notice something very strange: the game is set in a fallout zone, the radiation level is high, we wear NBC suits, everything is contaminated, but we can steal cigarettes, vodka, water and medicine anywhere, even in the explosion zone. We can’t believe it. And not only stealing, but using them while, for example, we decontaminate a puddle of strange radioactive goo, because nothing is more special than smoking a radioactive cigarette while wearing a gas mask!

The same strange situation occurs when we explore a location, such as the archive building, which is full of propane canisters. At other times we can see barricades in buildings, an atmosphere that has more in common with a zombie apocalypse than a militarised nuclear fallout zone.

Chornobyl Liquidators screenshot

The shortcomings of Chornobyl Liquidators don’t stop at the environments and plot, the gameplay is not good either.

There are plenty of places to explore, but most of the time there is nothing special to do. Only vodka and cigarettes, which apart from the paradox of being consumed while wearing an NBC suit, do not bring any real relevant advantage to the player.

When performing some actions, we expect a cutscene or just a few words spoken by the character to explain what is happening, but there is nothing.

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I do not think that in Soviet Russia they would have used the American slang of today!

There are a lot of glitches, like when we went to an electrical panel to move a lever. While the character was moving the lever, he was also drinking vodka. Maybe the fallout gave him another pair of arms?

Finally, there’s no native support for controllers. To be precise, Steam Input provides an emulation of the mouse and keyboard for those who want to use a controller, but emulating a mouse with the controller is not a good thing, and the Steam controller flop is proof of what we are saying.

The sound effects aren’t bad, except for the footsteps, which are too loud and annoying.

If the sound is fine, the graphics are still not optimised. Despite our graphics card being above the minimum requirements, we encountered many optimisation problems that forced us to play at low settings, but even at low settings the games try to use a lot of the necessary resources.

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It’s always hard to give a game a bad review, because we know how hard the developers have worked. But we have to be impartial, and we have to look at the situation from the players’ point of view, and this game is not sufficiently pleasant to play. The gameplay is poor, the plot lacks depth, the environment is all wrong and there are a lot of technical problems.

Our verdict

Unfortunately, we do not recommend “Chornobyl Liquidators” at all. The lack of good gameplay mechanics, coupled with a poor narrative, does not allow us to overlook the game’s obvious technical problems.

  • No ones!
  • Bad gameplay
  • Lots of bugs
  • Bad acting
  • Plot lacks of depth