“It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth’s dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be let alone” – H.P. Lovecraft
Developer: Brass Token
Released: 3rd November 2022
Engine: Unreal Engine 4
- Each character feels unique and diversified; their emotions, traumas give shape to the very enemies and obstacles Jess will face.
- Great variety of enemies, each with their own abilities, patterns and specific weaknesses to exploit. Very few, if any, are recycled.
- High amounts of lore files to find, some of which may be instrumental to progress or defeat a particularly tough foe.
- Good amount of detail in the realization of environments and character models. Facial expressions and emotions are portrayed particularly well.
- The gameplay blends survival horror, third person melee and puzzle-solving, it’s varied enough to not get stale until the end.
- Combat is generally too easy even on the highest difficulty, due to balance issues with its mechanics and a far too generous dodge window, slow enemies.
- Dialogue choices don’t really influence the actions and reactions of characters in a meaningful way.
- The final boss fight feels disappointing, spongy, messy, and doesn’t harness the combat mechanics to their full extent.
Bugs & Issues
- In very rare cases enemies may become invincible. Reload checkpoint to fix.
- Moderate stuttering in some areas.
- 32GB RAM
Content & Replay Value
It took me 8 hours to complete The Chant on Magister (Hard) difficulty, taking extra time to read/watch lore files and explore each area accurately. Even if there are multiple endings based on character stats, the rest of the content remains linear; I don’t see a point in replaying once finished.
Is It Worth Buying?
Yes, but only on sale. The regular price of 39.99€ is definitely steep, even with the good quality it delivers.
An enjoyable action-adventure horror with enough uniqueness to stand out from the crowd… however, it doesn’t manage to elaborate more on its foundations.
The Chant – In-Depth Analysis
Setting & Writing
Protagonist Jess is invited to a spiritual retreat by her friend Kim, in the hopes of recovering from a severe trauma of her past and finding clarity. What initially looks like a new-age, hippie shenanigan soon turns much darker, as ancient and obscure rituals make their way in the commune’s everyday life. Unsurprisingly, fiddling with poorly-understood spirit-channeling crystals isn’t the safest outdoor activity, someone loses composure and everything goes to absolute crap. The idyllic island is transformed into a Stranger Things-esque mish-mash of clashing dimensions, and Jess will have to survive through it.
Generally, each environment is crafted with care and looks good, however, the quality isn’t always consistent. A highlight are the dimensional rifts, each inspired to one of the ritual members’ emotions and past experiences, that truly feel like walking in someone else’s nightmare – while Jess’ own traumas also make their way in. The creatures that roam the island range from quasi-human to completely otherworldly, as the inhabitants of a yet-unknown dimension should be; great job in portraying this difference. Expect a terrifying and mysterious world that changes at every turn.
Exploration, Puzzles & Resource Management
The island of The Chant is divided in several areas, most of which are locked out initially, and accessible only when you’ll obtain the correct pendants to cross the color-coded dimensional rifts, or find key items to unlock doors and passages or shortcuts in the “real” world. The layout is semi-open but generally linear, with a main path dotted with small secondary areas that contain lore, additional resources but also more threats at times – there’s no map, some orienteering is needed. Later on fast travel is unlocked but this mechanic feels redundant, as the world isn’t so big and backtracking on foot may lead to additional resources you’d skip with fast travel.
In a light survival-horror fashion, inventory is heavily limited in how many resources you’re able to carry, be them crafting implements, weapons or consumables. You may very well have to leave something behind due to the lack of space, but in most cases you’ll be able to go back for it later. Each item has its own category so there’s no need to drop anything to pick something else up, and critical items occupy no space at all either. These items may be combined to solve puzzles, like making an alchemical solution following a recipe or crafting a metal shape to unlock doors, to name a few. There are several puzzles, most of which are unique and well-designed.
Progression & Crafting
Jess will have three main attributes: Mind, Body and Spirit that each level up in different ways, and also are drained by diverse factors. For instance, reading lore files will grant Mind points and will be drained inside the alternate dimension, while defeating physical enemies like Cultists will give Body XP as a reward, which is drained by physical pain and leads to death if exhausted. Dialogues also grant small amounts of XP based on your choices. These points are useless on their own and need Crystals, found in the world, that act as skill points to level-up useful passive skills like damage resistance, stunning enemies on a perfect parry, carrying more consumables, and so on. This encourages exploration as the majority of Crystals are hidden out of the main path.
Crafting materials, mostly in the form of herbs and solutions, are found all over the world and can be used to craft weapons and consumables. Since all weapons degrade with use, constantly crafting new ones is paramount. There may be a scenario where you’d have to reload a previous save because you simply ran out of everything, but this is only a worst-case scenario unlikely to happen.
Combat System & Boss Fights
Combat plays out in third person with mechanics like dodge, pushing and light / heavy attacks as foundations, plus different damage types depending on what weapon or skill you’re using at the moment. All enemies have different attack patterns you’d be wise to learn, and while all attacks stagger them, they’ll retaliate with powerful charged moves if hit repeatedly. All foes are more vulnerable to specific damage types, for instance using a Fire Lash (weapon) on physical foes will inflict bonus damage – but there are also combinations like using Oil + Fire to boost damage even more. Finding and reading the Bestiary entries in the world can give insight on an enemy’s skills and weaknesses to specific combos, further encouraging exploration.
Jess may also use her Spirit stat to fuel six different skills, from offensive to defensive ones, that have powerful effects but also a cooldown, like a scream that pushes enemies away for example. Consumables are an important part of combat and they can be set down as traps on the ground or thrown, mostly with utility effects like slow, stun, stagger and such. It’s a pity that most enemies, while damaging, are too slow and that Jess has no stamina or cooldown on dodging, which allows spamming with impunity, making avoiding attacks rather simple. The system in place with The Chant is overall good and interesting, especially because you don’t have to fight all enemies and arguably you shouldn’t, emphasizing the ‘survival horror’ gameplay a bit more.