Puzzling at its purest
Get to know the desolate town of Chernobyl and the ghost city of Pripyat as well as their history from the days prior to the nuclear accident.
This is also your chance to test your puzzle-solving skills and stand shoulder to shoulder with the leading minds of our generation.
Whether you’re a top academic, a high-flying CEO or just a regular Joe, this game is for everyone. Collaboration and teamwork is the name of the game, so grab your family, friends or colleagues and use the combined power of your brains.
This series of 7 puzzle chapters is for the creatively insane and the insanely creative, or for those who simply want to expand their horizons.
See the views. Walk around. Feel. Think. Commemorate.
This review is actually a little different as I was writing this while we were still in the process of playing it. It seems like each chapter uses the same structure so we feel that we can write the review after each section rather than waiting until the end of it all.
Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology is the creation of ‘Wild Child’ created by a chap named Goti from Israel. This is actually the second Israeli game we’ve played and both are equally challenging (the other was The Pyramid), there must be something in the water over there! Goti has created this game to not only be challenging but also to raise awareness and funds for ‘Chernobyl Children International’ – a great cause.
We are playing this game with our friends James and Charlie from Deadlocked, they’re hardcore puzzlers who we attempted Pablo’s Armchair Treasure Hunt with earlier in the year so we knew this would be right up their street. Coincidentally Liz and I just finished watching the Sky series, Chernobyl, just before we started this – perfect timing!
Technically this game has a time limit, but it is so stupidly long that it doesn’t really matter. This isn’t a game to rush through, this is a game to savour and experience. When playing this game you are required to use Google Earth to explore different areas of Chernobyl and Pripyat, so make sure you take your time to look around and see what has become of these sites, in places it is quite spine chilling.
It’s one thing to create puzzles out of thin air, but to visit a place (albeit virtually) and find items that you can then turn into puzzles is very impressive. Another nice touch is that after each question is solved, you get some history on the particular area of Chernobyl – educational and fun.
The game is split up into seven sections, and originally a new one was released each week. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take on these puzzles with no outside help. Yes, that means if you want to play this game as it is intended, without cheating, then it is just you and your team, no hint system, no help, just straight up puzzling – if you can’t solve it, then you don’t deserve the points.
The leaderboard doesn’t make too much sense to us, but it is nice to have an idea of how you are progressing – the maximum points possible is 5,000 so you have plenty of puzzling ahead. Time plays a factor, but each main question gives you 100 points and there is a snazzy leaderboard if you care about such things. Make sure you write down your answers as you go as it is useful to keep a record of them.
This game is not for the faint hearted, but if you are up for a challenge, then assemble your team and give it a go, when you complete the puzzles you will get an immense sense of satisfaction! A word of advice, there are a couple of example puzzles on the Wild Child website, make sure you look at these first to give you an insight into how Goti’s mind works.
Chernobyl is arguably a masterpiece of a game and Goti is a very talented chap. This game will be a love/hate type of thing, we loved it and we loved playing it without help, but that did come with a fair amount of frustration.
There are two ways to play this game, the real way, or the ‘cheats’ way. Play it as intended, don’t get help, accept you may not complete it, and just enjoy the experience. This is a game to be played, to leave, to come back to, and to find your own eureka moments. Strap in, you’ll never have experienced anything like this before.
Chapter One: Core Galore
Initial thoughts: What have we let ourselves in for?! Fortunately we looked at the example questions and have an idea of what we’re looking for but there is a lot to take in. Some very challenging puzzles but each team member got a chance to shine at various points, James especially picked up on something that I’m positive Liz and I would have never worked out – it’s good to have a great team!
Once we got into the rhythm we started to pick up speed and started getting through the puzzles at a good speed, until we hit the last puzzle. This one took us much longer than the others, we got there eventually. Not having clues is actually a great thing as it pushed us to look at the problem differently and find the solution.
- Total Puzzles Solved: 7/7
- Total Round Points: 700/700
- Total Time Taken: 2 hours? I forgot to stop my timer
Chapter Two: Geiger says
Another week, another release of Chernobyl: A puzzle septology. I must say we were feeling pretty confident after the first chapter, although our minds were probably not in the right place – Liz and I were a bit sleepy and James and Charlie were stupendously busy with work so trying to cram in an epic puzzling session was probably not the right thing to do.
Regardless of everything going on we decided to persevere with the game. The puzzles were once again very clever and although one or two looked simple at first glance, they proved not to be. Saying that, we managed to get through all of the main questions in around one hour which actually felt pretty good. However, Wild Child decided to change things up a bit here and introduced some bonus puzzles, somehow these took us around 90 minutes (yes, longer than the main puzzles), and we had to have a little break in between to recharge our brains.
Still really enjoying this game and it’s fascinating to see what has become of Chernobyl and the surrounding area. Wild Child also make use of some online tools which makes it ‘easier’ to solve the puzzles, good signposting regarding where you need to visit helps too, but this chapter felt much more involved than the first.
- Total Puzzles Solved: 7/7 + 4/4 bonus puzzles
- Total Round Points: 900/900
- Total Time Taken: 1 hour for main puzzles, 90 minutes for bonus puzzles
Chapter Three: Natura
We planned to play this a day earlier than we did, but hoped the extra break would have made our minds a bit fresher. Strangely it seemed to work as we blitzed through most of the main puzzles (including the bonus) in around 30 minutes, I’m not sure if they were easier or they just clicked more but we were an effective team and everyone contributed well.
The puzzles were of the same style as the previous rounds and utilised some very clever uses of Google Earth. The more we play, the more I want to visit Chernobyl, although I don’t see that happening anytime soon so this will have to do. I feel like the puzzles were easier in this game, up until the last one which I’m not sure if we were over complicating or just not seeing, but it took us longer than the other ones combined – we got there eventually though (just don’t get distracted like we did).
- Total Puzzles Solved: 6/6 + 1/1 bonus puzzles
- Total Round Points: 650/650
- Total Time Taken: 1hr 15 minutes (ish)
Chapter Four: Clickity Click
For once we played this chapter on the day of release, and feeling fresh we were ready to take this one on. Again it felt like these puzzles were on the easier side compared to some of the others we have encountered so far, although we may just be coming around to Wild Child’s way of thinking? Of course, nothing is that straight forward and due to much over-complicating on our part we managed to spend hours and hours on one single puzzle. We got there eventually so perseverance is key.
Once again we were travelling around Chernobyl and the surrounding areas to solve our puzzles, and like before we were in awe at what we were seeing, this was one of the creepier missions so far I think. Unusually, we found this time we had to use some Googling to help us solve these puzzles which took us bit by surprised.
This chapter was a roller coaster of emotions, from the highs of getting some puzzles in less than a minute, to the lows of taking hours on one of them. If nothing else, I’m loving that we get our team together for a weekly catch up and puzzling session – that’s what this is all about.
- Total Puzzles Solved: 7/7
- Total Round Points: 700/700
- Total Time Taken: 1hr (ish) plus many many additional hours on one puzzle!
Chapter Five: Obscura
Here we go again, brains fuelled with pizza (for some of us) and frustration levels currently low, it’s time for the next stage of The Chernobyl Septology. This round is titled Obscura, which, given the complexities of the puzzles could really apply to any of the chapters we had previously played. I’ve got to admit, it was quite a relief to see only six puzzles this week and no bonuses, but saying that, this game could be a struggle even with one puzzle!
A great mixture of puzzles yet again, we found these to be perhaps on the easier side than some of the other rounds. That’s not to say they were easy, but our secret weapon (James) was like a man possessed and was like the Rain man solving puzzles today. Some puzzles were rather challenging and meant we skipped those to the end so we could get the ‘easy wins’ out of the way, but one puzzle (as always) stumped us for longer than it should have. Eventually it was solved and we found out the reason why is because a key point of it was not taught in UK education – or at least none of us remembered it – so it was useful to have an American on the team.
Enjoyable as always, and incredibly satisfying to solve it as a team.
- Total Puzzles Solved: 6/6
- Total Round Points: 600/600
- Total Time Taken: 1.30hr – 2.00hrs (forgot to start the timer)
Chapter Six: Le Vitrage
It was quite a relief when we opened up the game this week to see only ‘one’ puzzle, then we realised it was actually four puzzles that were intertwined and that relief soon disappeared. Le Vitrage is probably the prettiest of the chapters that we’ve played so far, and also has the least amount of travel around Chernobyl.
The puzzles felt like they were variations on theme, we got the first one pretty quickly but the second took longer, then strangely once we got the second we flew through the final two. Saying that, one of our team had done some good prep work on the questions so that made it much easier to connect the dots (so to speak).
Looking back at the questions and solutions now, they were logical and quite fair, of course it is always easy when you know the answers, right?
- Total Puzzles Solved: 4/4
- Total Round Points: 400/400
- Total Time Taken: 2.00hrs (ish, on and off)
Chapter Seven: Higher Dosage
We were promised something special for the final chapter, and special is certainly what we got. This last chapter was arguably the hardest we had come across and despite a few quick wins on some of the puzzles, there were others that stumped us for a lot longer. It probably didn’t help that we wanted to be the first to complete the Septology (we were), so we played it as soon as it was released which was late at night.
Chapter Seven had two bonus puzzles, but still managed to throw us a curve ball. When we thought we had completed everything, suddenly there was another puzzle that we needed to do to get full completion of this game. This final puzzle felt very different to the other puzzles we had encountered, but was just as challenging.
Completing this game was bitter sweet. There was a great sense of accomplishment in completing it, as the creator intended (with no help), but it was lovely to have something to look forward to each week and the never had I felt such joy at completing puzzles as we did in Chernobyl – simply remarkable.
- Total Puzzles Solved: 9/9 + 1/1
- Total Round Points: 1050/1050
- Total Time Taken: I lost all concept of time.
Value for Money
Team: 4 players
Time Taken: A long time!
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.