The independent market is a tireless forge of products suitable for all tastes and budgets, with a lot of meat on the fire that arrives on digital stores every day. Sometimes from the fog of anonymity they come out little videogame gemscapable of creating true cult phenomena of the highest value, in other cases the results are so problematic as to be occasionally almost indecent. Unfortunately we found in the review phase that SWAN: Chernobyl Unexplored unfortunately he is a clear exponent of this second group of titles, even if there are some very limited interesting ideas.
A not very incisive drama
From a narrative point of view, SWAN: Chernobyl Unexplored has an introduction that easily echoes the atmosphere of dictatorship of Ukraine in Soviet times and of the famous and almost homonymous case of the disaster in Chernobyl. However, it should be noted that the event itself is only one incipit to a horror narrative that detaches itself quickly enough from the historical premises, to be based on the paranormal and on science fiction theories from alternative dimensions.
Consequently, those who expect a story that will go to dissect the memorable – for dramatic reasons – case of the radioactive accident of the famous plant in 1986, will remain for the most part disappointed. In fact, without going too deep into the events, know that the story is centered on a secret structure where atrocities are committed, in search of various solutions to reach “Alternative plans of existence”.
The set of events is unfortunately surrounded by various cliche whatsoever that make the whole not very incisive. The most successful element of the title is though the narrative atmosphere of repression political and social typical of deviated and more unscrupulous versions of the Soviet Union of the 70-80s. Players who have tried The Medium they will immediately recognize the austere tone of the settings and of the gray stories told, full of suspicious and paranoid characters, and of unspeakable secrets, hidden under a forced homologation of society. Removed this small and only positive pointSWAN: Chernobyl Unexplored it showed itself in the reviews as a product with a sometimes confusing narrative and come on terribly verbose dialogues. Furthermore, it is urgent to clarify that the whole story is told in English even in the subtitles, although the vocabulary used is quite simple and the rhetorical figures are, after all, understandable.
A frustrating gameplay
The gameplay of the stock is in all probability one of the components worse you succeed of the project, even if not the one with the main difficulties. However, players who have already tried linear and guided horror titles, with occasional puzzles will initially find themselves at home. The pace of the game is mainly made up of questions that require the use of the lateral thinking, with a set of apparently illogical actions but which on the whole lead to a result to advance in the adventure. These are not complex questions, quite the opposite! Except that in some cases you will have to think outside the box to find the solution, and so far nothing wrong, since there are games of great value on this false line.
The problem starts when you go a little further in history and pseudo sessions start from “Inter-dimensional shooter” in which to hunt presences from other dimensions we will have to test an experimental weapon with various degrees of power and with a unnecessarily complicated special ammunition system. Honestly, we found these sessions so badly structured and badly done as to ruin the good done with the rest of the title from a purely playful point of view. Yes, because in addition to being objectively created badly, they are also from a gunplay point of view and the feeling at stake, definitely frustrating also due to extremely woody controls. In short, they are sections that instead of creating tension and anguish in the player – or in general simply having fun – are unnecessarily tedious and repetitive. In addition to these factors, there are also multiple ones Technical Problems like some bugs in the gameplay, even if those found are not too invasive.
A graphic disaster rather than a radioactive one
From a purely technical and graphic point of view, our proof of SWAN: Chernobyl Unexplored for this Xbox Series X review, has deeply disappointed us due to an overall achievement far below sufficiency. Let’s be clear, during the evaluation of this version we tried to overshadow the general quality of the textures and the on-screen cleanliness of the graphics that is overall extremely lowprobably motivated by the very limited budget for the production of such a small development team.
See therefore monsters with physical features so badly made as to be involuntarily funny, it is a feature that we still want to try not to over-complain, given that even a few polygons are enough to terrify the players, if you use the right atmosphere (an element that in this case is unfortunately only partially functional). The element on which instead we absolutely cannot let it goare the unjustified drops of frame rates during the course of the entire adventure. We are talking about a poor optimization to the point that with the decent power of the Xbox Series X however, it is not possible to have stable images from start to finishexcept for some static scenes. Frame-rate among other things, of a setting mainly indoors and confined to some small corridors and dark rooms with essential screen elements. In short, play SWAN: Chernobyl Unexplored for long sessions it can be quite annoying for the player’s view. Small final note it is necessary to do it also for the poor longevity of the adventure, on which we do not feel however to rage further, given the budget cost of the title.