S.T. A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha is a standalone mod created using the dev kit of the very popular franchise developed by GSC Game World. Based in an alternative 2012 Chernobyl, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a survival RPG that focuses on scavenging, combat, bartering and maintaining the player’s health. The player is required to maintain food and water supply to survive in the harsh Chernobyl disaster zone. The original game was released on March 20, 2007 and its reception was positive in Eastern European countries, especially since GSC is based out of Ukraine.

I’m going to start this article by talking about the gaming community who took upon this project. Lost Alpha is a mod that brings together everything from the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and re-invents itself as a true masterpiece. After playing through all three of the original titles, I wanted to see what the modding community had to offer.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha,PC,Review,Screenshots

Again, Lost Alpha is a storyline based on the original game. Although the originals were great, the mod creators came to a conclusion that in order to flesh out more of the storyline, they would need to deviate from the original cannon. In my opinion, this was the first step toward creating a genuine and refreshing experience for the player. This decision offered new quests, new weapons and new factions within the game. For example: The Sin faction was a group that was originally cut from the franchise during development of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Now, the Sin faction brings an entirely new element to the storyline that was not previously there. Let’s just be honest, storylines are hard to create and especially hard to convince fans of the series that have already moved on from the game to come back. In addition to the new storyline, there are new quests and cutscenes that highlight both the originals and the modified story. With these new elements added to the game, it challenges not only veterans, but new players who will get a chance to experience something completely new.

Remember when vehicles were just static pieces in the original trilogy? Well, with the help of mods, you can now drive your very own quality Russian-made car! This was one of my favorite add-ons. Like most modern RPG’s, they too have a way of traveling from place to place so this mod really gave it a modern day feel. With games like Ghost Recon: Wildlands or Fallout 4, there is fast-travel option, however, in Lost Alpha it throws an entirely new element to traveling… a car that requires gas! It’s a very refreshing addition in the sense that this game refuses to be like all the others. You wanted a true survival challenge? Here it is. Just don’t forget to make sure you manage your petrol or you’ll be back to walking!

Several areas in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. have been reimagined and now offer brand-new scenarios, so even for seasoned vets of the originals, tread lightly. In-game settlements like Cordon (кордон) or Dark Valley (Темная долина) look amazing and bring new life to the game. The biggest improvement is the expansion of the original game’s map. The bigger open-world features dozens of new areas to discover and scavenge. These areas aren’t just simple expansions, but on several occasions, I had to travel to each one of them for some new odd-job or main questline. Missions in this game take the player through all the new areas, with each being different in their own creepy, apocalyptic way.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha,PC,Review,Screenshots

Reading this article, you may be asking “why cover a game that was launched so long ago?”. It’s simple, this mod is a resurrection of the original game and continues to be updated into modern day. Second to that, a game like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has something that I continually find lacking in several games of the new decade. The update keeps content new and innovative, but is still familiar to all gamers. Weapon handling, survival skills, tactical combat and many more features in this game lead to an experience that you will not find anywhere else. In games like Fallout 4, the player gradually progresses through the story and in combat skill. Perks, weapon balancing, health, these things are stacked in the players favor.

However, in S.T.A.L.K.E.R., your character is on a level playing field with even the lower NPCs. A single Bandit has just as much a chance to kill you, or vice versa. This leads to encounters that are thrilling and almost terrifying to the player. Take one of my experiences for example, after hunting for loot in an underground tunnel, the batteries in my flashlight died. “Oh no” I thought to myself, “I’m going to have to literally feel my way out of this area”. Terrifying as that sounds, the game had another surprise waiting for me around a brightly lit corner. Four fully-armed bandits with AK47’s and double-barrel shotguns greeted me as I made the corner to the exit. In this firefight, the odds were against me, I say that in the way I mentioned earlier, the player is not meant to be able to easily take down four bandits at close range especially with no lights. How did I eventually make it out of the tunnel? With no light source of any kind, the only thing I could think of was to use the muzzle flash of the bandits to hone-in my bullets. Several quick saves and angry outbursts later, I managed to kill those pesky bandits and emerged from the tunnel victorious. Shortly thereafter, I was mauled by a Snork (pictured bottom right) and was forced to devise my next tactical plan to get back to camp safely.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Lost Alpha,PC,Review,Screenshots

Experiences like this are the reason myself, along with many other gamers keep coming back to this series. Challenging gameplay, curious and mind boggling story antics, and the ability to exit the game after a long night with a smile on your face that says, ‘I want to play more!”.

 

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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Dezowave
Developer(s): Dezowave
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: Survival Horror
Release Date: 2014-04-27

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