|The small village at the start of the game. It’s just packed with detail. Aside from the mercs, it actually seems fairly authentic. The empty houses are sad and dreary. It may not look it, but this is the most inviting place in The Zone.|
People are normally fascinated by ruins, but very adverse to stuff like hazardous radiation. (Or even “semi-benign” radiation.) That stuff is not DNA friendly and tends to muck up the cells in your body in annoying and unpredictable ways. Sometimes the damage takes years to become obvious. Sometimes it happens quicker. Sometimes those cells just die. Sometimes they go haywire and make more bad cells, which can lead to grotesque disfigurement, followed by death. The worst part – and what I think scares people the most – is that you don’t know it right away. You get a dose of radiation, and then wonder if you are now hosting rogue cells which have turned on you and have begun to eat you from the inside out.
As a result, most people stay away from places like Chernobyl. But Elana rode her motorcycle into the dead zone and took some of the most haunting pictures I’ve ever seen. Do read the site if you missed it when it made the rounds a few years ago.
The longer I play STALKER the more I want to run out of the zone, get a chemical shower, and find something to do which doesn’t involve absorbing large doses of invisible energy which may or may not be turning the cells of my body into a time bomb. For me the immersion worked a little too well, to the point where I kept wondering what could possibly be worth this much risk.
The world of STALKER looks a lot like Elena’s pictures. It’s filthy, rusty, crumbling, and empty. It’s wonderfully dreadful and loathsome in a way I haven’t experienced outside of a Silent Hill game.
I’ll have more on the game as I get a bit further into it.