The saga of the "S.T.A.L.K.E.R." video game series dates back to its first development by GSC Game World, a Ukrainian company in 2001. Inspired by Arkady and Boris Stugatsky's science fiction novel "Roadside Picnic" and Andrei Tarkovsky's film "Stalker", the first game was released in 2007. Players were quickly drawn into its post-apocalyptic setting, a virtual rendition of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, filled with unprecedented challenges, dark brooding atmospheres, and intriguing entities.
Released in 2007, the debut game "S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl" introduces players to the Exclusion Zone - a region severely affected by a second nuclear disaster. As the protagonist known as the Marked One, players traverse the hazardous Zone, battling both its mutant creatures and other denizens, completing missions, and ultimately uncovering the mysteries behind their cryptic past and the zone's anomalous activities.
Preceding the events of the first game, "S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky", released in 2008, elaborates on the Zone's history. Players take on the role of Scar, a mercenary survivor, caught in the midst of warring factions within the Zone and tasked with preventing a disastrous emission of anomalous energy. Clear Sky enhanced the faction system and offered a deeper exploration of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. lore.
"S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat", the final installment released in 2009, follows Major Alexander Degtyarev as he investigates the cause behind the failure of 'Operation Fairway', a military operation to secure the center of the Zone. It takes on a more non-linear gameplay, offering players a wider array of choices with consequent impacts on the story's passing and the game's conclusion.
After a break, in 2020, the developer announced the sequel "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: The Heart of Chernobyl", which is scheduled for release in 2024. Fans anticipate its unprecedented open-world gameplay promised by GSC Game World, alongside more detailed graphics, a profound storyline, and enhanced physics and simulation, marking a significant evolution of the classic S.T.A.L.K.E.R gameplay.
The "S.T.A.L.K.E.R." series has become a hallmark in the realm of post-apocalyptic video games. From its inception to the future prospect of a sequel, the series continues to appeal to players worldwide with its unique blend of survival, horror, and RPG elements set within the eerie confines of a post-Chernobyl landscape. As fans await the upcoming sequel, the enduring influence of the "S.T.A.L.K.E.R." series is a testament to its unique pull and the immersive experience it provides to its adventurers.