Our review of The Chantout November 3, 2022 for PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.
At least once in a lifetime, Who hasn’t thought of taking a full immersion in unspoiled nature to meditate and get in touch with your own ego? Here you are, The ChantBrass Token’s action-adventure horror might seriously make you reconsider doing so.
Unlike other exponents of the horror genre, The Chant carries out his adventures in a rather unusual context, i.e. within a New Age-inspired eco-village where meditation and crystal therapy are the main activities of the community that resides there. And it is precisely to Glory Island that the protagonist Jess Briars decides to go to put her life back in order after a series of traumatic experiences.
To welcome her is her friend Kim, who introduces her to the rules of this spiritual community and invites her to participate in a ritual that will prove to be a disaster on all fronts. A twist that turns out to be a sort of point of no return in the continuation of an adventure that uses different means to advance narratively. The Chant intelligently alternates between cutscenes for classic character iterations but delegates reading documents and 9mm movies to uncover the dark secrets behind the guru character of the Glory Island community, and beyond.
A writing trick that allows the player not only to understand the causes of the disaster that has struck the island, but also to sufficiently delve into the previous lives of each adept and, above all, to unmask the pettiness that the protagonists hide behind the candid facade of the flowerpower until then heralded.
If from this point of view we feel satisfied with the work done by the development team, we cannot say the same for the dialogue choices that the game offers: while determining a certain type of ending, in reality the answer options do not concretely condition the playful dynamics and this significantly weakens the value of the replayability of the title.
As mentioned, The Chant chooses to contextualize his work within an unusual scenario for the horror genre, which has accustomed us to dark places or menacingly looming epidemics. The community of Glory Island instead basks in a context of dazzling nature among pristine woods, placid streams and clearly New Age-inspired structures, which demonstrate a certain technical competence in terms of graphic rendering. But above all it manages to efficiently represent the contrast between the peaceful surrounding environment and the horrific events that will occur to us in the continuation of the adventure.
Gameplay-wise The Chant looks like a classic third-person action adventure, but with some specificities that adapt it to the narrative context: don’t expect to fight with firearms but with bundles of salvia divinorum, essential oils and sachets of salt with which to defeat the variegated range of enemies ranging from the classic humanoid to psychedelic flowers clearly inspired by the 70s.
In general, the combat system is quite basic, with light and heavy attacks, a dodge and a sort of parry that allows you to block what the game calls “psychic attacks”. A combat that, pad in hand, is simple and effective but, at the same time, does not offer a particularly demanding level of challenge, nor does it lend itself to particularly significant playful complexity. A separate discussion applies to the bossfights, which although they do not stand out for their difficulty, are appreciated for their inventiveness and diversification.
There is a corollary of character stats to manage and upgrade, namely Mind, Body and Spirit: these characteristics not only determine the mere physical survival against enemy blows but also the resistance to panic in unlit places, or the ability to launch magical special attacks. The latter, however, are connected to the possession of specific colored crystals, and also allow access to entire game areas once the required charm has been acquired.
Exploration is the element that supports the whole game structureeither because it is necessary for the recovery of resources for the creation of weapons, medicinal herbs and the improvement of the skill branch, but also for the acquisition of documents and films to deepen the plot, enrich the knowledge of the bestiary and find keys to open doors and delete. Backtracking was managed with extreme essentiality, so much so that it doesn’t seem like a real journey backwards but a natural advancement of the path to be taken.
In conclusion, The Chant offers a horror adventure with an atypical setting compared to the reference genre and which aims to present a good quality plot, with themes that are little explored by the videogame market.
While having appreciated the desire to present a product that presents horror in a new guise, some choices made by the development team affect the overall quality of the work: the lack of incisiveness of the dialogue options (which remain quite ends in themselves if not to determine one of the intended endings) and a combat system that does not offer hints of playful complexity in the face of a sufficiently varied range of enemies, they cannot make us promote it with flying colors.
Nonetheless, we would happily recommend it to those who want to take on a different horror adventure in setting and themes.