In 1972, Soviet-Russian author/brother duo Arkady and Boris Strugatsky released the Sci Fi novel Roadside Picnic: Aliens arrive on Earth at six Visitation Zones, leave reality-warping artifacts and anomalies behind, and go right back to outer space, much like how people leave their trash behind after a roadside picnic; fortune-seekers, dubbed “stalkers”, illegally enter these zones in search of artifacts and knowledge.
In 1977, Antonina W. Bouis translates the book to English for the first time, and it becomes an acclaimed and influential novel across nations. In 1979, legendary Soviet-Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky loosely adapts the book into the equally respected and influential film Stalker. The Strugatsky brothers in-turn novelise an early screenplay of the movie as Stalker.
In 1986, a blackout safety test at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Pripyat, Ukraine causes its core to explode. The surrounding area becomes highly irradiated and is closed off, dubbed the Zone of Alienation, the Exclusion Zone, or simply The Zone. The plant is hastily covered with a concrete “sarcophagus”. Those who re-enter the Zone, particularly the scientists and engineers exploring the sarcophagus, are called Stalkers. The Strugatskys’ book begins to show an eery prescience, and a mythology builds around the disaster.
All of this was not lost on the Ukrainian game studio GSC Game World. Come the new millenium, they took inspiration from both books and Tarkovsky’s Stalker, replaced the aliens with this mythology built around Chernobyl, and released one of 2007’s favorite cult hits.
Привіт, Сталкер. This is Shadow of Chernobyl.
SoC is an immersive FPS noted for its difficulty and realism. The nuclear wasteland setting draws comparisons to Fallout, but SoC is not a fun romp where you can strap any minigun you see to your back to sell later: the game requires strategy and management from the player. You can die very quickly from the advanced enemy AI, wander into a grinder anomaly by mistake, miss most of your shots if you’re not close, use up all of your piddly carry weight without trying, or fail in some other spectacular bug/glitch-related way. Despite this, and in many ways because, SoC and its sequel Call of Pripyat are acclaimed cult favorites.
Many years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a second explosion occurs in the Exclusion Zone. Mutated creatures, wonderous artifacts, and deadly anomalies appear throughout the Zone, and a group of explorers, scientists, and wealth-seekers called Stalkers jump right in to see what they can find. Word spreads of the Wish Granter, something hidden within the Chernobyl Sarcophagus that can gift whoever finds it whatever they want.
You are “the Marked One”, a stalker who turns up suddenly with amnesia, a tattoo on his arm saying “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.”, and a PDA that simply says “Kill Strelok”. With no other leads as to who you might be, you trek out into the Zone with only a pistol, a knife, a pair of binoculars, and anything else you can scrounge off the mountain of corpses you leave behind in search of this Strelok. Along the way, you just might uncover the secrets of the Zone and what exactly is the Wish Granter.
This is a straightforward playthrough of the standard version. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Complete is an available mod that fixes a lot of the game’s bugs and adds new content, but I wanted to give an authentic experience, so the only mod I’m using is the bug-fixing Zone Reclamation Project. Don’t worry, the funny ones never get fixed. All endings will be shown off, as well as at least one of each type of side quest, so you can consider this a completionist run (sidequests are radiant quests, so there’s no way to do literally every one). Extra videos of Complete, the Arena, etc, are possible down the line.
My co-commentators are JigglyJacob and Highwang. Highwang is more experienced with the game than me but usually plays Complete. Jacob knows nothing about the game.
This LP was originally uploaded in full between November 5, 2017 and January 28, 2018 for my Patreon patrons before it began being made public in February 2018.