Date: 12-13-22 10:59
The Chant, a third-person action adventure where a retreat akin to Jared Leto's definitely-not-a-cult finds itself crashing into a weird nightmare realm akin to the Upside Down from Stranger Things. The thing is, if anything I don't think it's weird enough. If you're going to do a game where the main character uses flaming witchhazel sticks to lash energy-crystal monsters with vagina-flower faces, my view is that you go hard or go home.
The Chant isnít a bad looking game by any means, but some of the lip syncing isnít great. Some mouths look too wide, and the way characters move donít feel at home on PlayStation 5. I was expecting smoother movement and transitions, but there were a few times when its clumsiness was noticeable. I also had various issues following an auto-save. After dying, I was loaded right back in to an enemy attack, which was frustrating as I had no way to evade it. This happened more than I wouldíve liked, and it was these kind of issues that showed why a bit of polish to certain parts would have been appreciated.
The Chant does a decent job of blending narrative, game play mechanics and a metroidvania styled progression system together in a satisfying way. Each of the gameís 6 chapters focus on one individual character via the story, introduces new mechanics and opens up new paths around Glory Island. Along the way, youíll be collecting a plethora of story based pick ups, lore items and descriptions of the foes youíll be facing. These slowly but surely unveil what happened on the island all those years ago, give depth to the characters and build up a chilling world to explore.
It's actually quite a compact game, and even though Jess has to go to different areas, finding Resi-ish keys to open locked doors and shortcuts, there's even a kind of fast travel system through the Gloom if you can't bear to walk around what is quite a small island. This compression does apply to the storytelling, though, to the extent that you get an explicit speedrun of each character's issues in dialogue almost immediately before they become relevant. It's a very noticeable pattern and I can't help but think it could have been teased out a little more.
Despite some technical issues, The Chant is a solid entry into the survival horror genre. The acting is strong, and the crafting elements help to bring a sense of defencelessness to Jess. The story kept me interested throughout, and the Gloom was a smartly integrated enemy that led to some tense encounters. It may not look as good as it perhaps should on current gen, but the griminess of the island acted as an eerie backdrop to what first seemed like paradise.
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