Tech by VICE

This VR Tour of Chernobyl Eerily Compares Scenes Before and After the Fallout

The Chernobyl VR Project aims to make Ukraine’s infamous nuclear ruin accessible to anyone with a VR headset.

by Becky Ferreira
Apr 26 2016, 4:07pm

This Tuesday marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, which remains the worst nuclear accident in history. On April 26, 1986, the plant's infamous reactor four experienced a spike in power that sparked a catastrophic meltdown. Thirty-one people were killed during the event itself, and radiation poisoning has since affected millions of people within the massive fallout zone.

In the decades since, the power plant has been abandoned to ruin and reclamation by the surrounding wilderness, as has its host city of Pripyat, which has made the region a popular destination for adventurous tourists. But soon, anyone with a VR headset will be able to explore the eerie landscape thanks to the Chernobyl VR Project, an immersive virtual tour currently being developed by Polish game development company The Farm 51.

The development team acquired scientific permits to explore and film areas off limits to the public

The game is set for release this June on Oculus Rift, but the team released a sneak peek of the graphics and design for the 30th anniversary. With 360-degree views and ghostly apparitions of life before the fallout, the new trailer offers a chilling look at Chernobyl, past and present.

The project was compiled from footage shot on site with stereoscopic 360-degree cameras in high resolution. The development team acquired scientific permits to explore and film areas off limits to the public, including shots inside abandoned houses, sporting facilities, and the iconic Pripyat amusement park.

In addition to exposing Chernobyl's stark scenery to a much broader audience, the project is intended to capture the ruins for posterity, and raise money and awareness for the survivors of the catastrophe.

"We aimed to reach the people, for whom the disaster had an intimate, private, and sometimes family aspect to it," said Wojciech Pazdur, CEO at The Farm 51, in a statement.