The Chant

The Chant

No fear. No fear. No fear.

the chant

As the nights draw in there is nothing we love more than firing up a thriller, leaving the light off, firing on our headset and strapping in for a few jump scares.  Canadian studio Brass Token may just have the perfect game for this autumnal tradition in The Chant – a survival horror game with more than a bit of spirit to it.  It’s also a title that you may have missed in the end of year release scrum, as it’s not really been spoken about much, because at first glance this may look like a by-the-numbers survival horror title, but dig under the surface and you’ll discover more than a few new twists and turns.

The Chant doesn’t mess around as it kicks off with you escaping from some sort of unholy ritual on an island.  Before taking you back in time a little, where you find out you are playing as Jess – a young woman who is dealing with mental health issues, after the loss of a loved one.  So her friend asks her to join her on an island retreat, where wellbeing and meditation is the order of the day… well on the surface.  As soon after you arrive, you find yourself in a battle with an evil force.  It’s a great set up that is hurt by pacing issues, as the game rushes so much of the content at you.  What should be really thrilling and shocking points end up being a blur, as it never stops to let you take it in.  The same can be said for its handling of sensitive topics, which gets no time to really breathe and is a real shame, as it covers areas less seen in gaming.  Plus there is the old Tomb Raider issue, that sees Jess (who it’s fair to say is damaged in a lot of ways) go from this fragile state to a monster killing bad ass at the drop of a hat.  I get you need her to take the lead, but spending time building a back story then binning it for action is an odd move.

Gameplay throws in a bit of choice based on how you react during conversations, though from what we can tell other than a few dialog changes, nothing major is affected off the back of these.
The Chant blends survival horror and action mechanics for a unique system, that is based on three stats; spirt, body and mind.  Mind is based on your sanity, which if it is drained you start having panic attacks.  Whereas spirt is based on your attacks and body is the most standard, as it’s your health.  There is also an interesting crafting system where you’ll build most of your weapons, though beware each has strengths and weaknesses depending on what enemies you’re fighting.  You’ll also unlock some more beefy powers, as you push through the world; like being able to slow time down and having a push shockwave attack – which helps to add a bit of spice to the combat as well as options.  Combat does feel clunky at times, though partly to do with character animations both in terms of you and the enemies.  Hits don’t register sometimes or you can get snagged on the environment when dodging.  The AI also doesn’t really react, when you are beating seven bells out of them which is a bit strange.

Visually the game aims for gloomy and foreboding, but misses the mark a bit with areas being really lifeless but not in a good way.  The characters also lacks the details needed to carry the emotion and strength of the performance clearly being delivered by the voice talent; as Siobhan Williams, Kira Clavel and Nicole Anthony to name a few, all put in a solid shift.  The Chant tries to do something new and in doing so there are a lot of ideas at work, which make it feel like none of them, can really truly shine.  That’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments, but the underdeveloped plot that tries to handle heavy themes quickly fades.  It’s a real shame as there is a really good game in there trying to break out, it’s just weighed down by too many ideas and lofty ambitions.

An Xbox review copy of The Chant was provided by Brass Token’s PR team, and is available now on Xbox, PC and PlayStation for around £40.

The Verdict

6Fair

The Good: Concept | New ideas | Voice talent

The Bad: Visuals | Pacing | Combat

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Stuart Cullen

Scotland’s very own thorn in the side of the London gaming scene bringing all the hottest action straight from The Sun… well… The Scottish Sun at least, every week!

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