The Chant – A terrifying struggle for survival between dimensions!

“It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and security of mankind, that some of the dark and dead corners of the Earth and the uncharted depths be left alone” – HP Lovecraft

Developer: brass token
Published: November 3, 2022
Price: €39.99
Engine: Unreal Engine 4

Advantages

  • Each character feels unique and diverse; their emotions, their traumas shape the very enemies and obstacles that Jess will face.
  • Huge variety of enemies, each with their own specific abilities, patterns, and weaknesses to exploit. Very few, if any, are recycled.
  • Large amounts of knowledge files to find, some of which can be instrumental in progressing or defeating a particularly tough enemy.
  • Good amount of detail in making environments and character models. Facial expressions and emotions are particularly well represented.
  • The gameplay mixes survival horror, third-person melee and puzzle-solving, it’s varied enough not to become stale until the end.

The inconvenients

  • Combat is generally too easy even on the highest difficulty, due to balance issues with its mechanics and an overly generous dodge window, slowing enemies down.
  • Dialogue choices don’t really influence character actions and reactions in any meaningful way.
  • The final boss fight is disappointing, squishy, ​​messy, and doesn’t fully utilize the combat mechanics.

Bugs and issues

  • In very rare cases, enemies can become invincible. Reload checkpoint to correct.
  • Moderate stuttering in some areas.

Machine Specifications

  • 3900X
  • 2080Ti
  • 32 GB RAM
  • SSD
  • 1440p

Content and replayability

It took me 8 hours to complete The Chant on Magister (Hard) difficulty, taking longer to read/watch the story files and explore each area accurately. Although there are multiple endings based on character stats, the rest of the content remains linear; I don’t see the point of replaying once finished.

Is it worth buying?

Yes, but only for sale. The regular price of €39.99 is definitely high, even with the good quality it offers.

Verdict

Enjoyable action-adventure horror with enough uniqueness to stand out from the crowd… however, it fails to elaborate more on its foundation.

Fire damage is particularly effective against things on our side of reality.

The Song – In-Depth Analysis

Setting and writing

Protagonist Jess is invited to a spiritual retreat by her friend Kim, hoping to recover from severe trauma from her past and find clarity. What initially looks like a new-age hippie shenanigans soon becomes much darker, as ancient and obscure rituals find their way into daily commune life. Unsurprisingly, messing with misunderstood mind channeling crystals isn’t the safest outdoor activity, someone loses their temper and everything goes to shit. The idyllic island turns into a hodgepodge of strange dimensions à la Stranger Things, and Jess will have to survive it.

Generally, each environment is carefully designed and looks good, however, the quality is not always consistent. A highlight are the dimensional rifts, each inspired by one of the ritual members’ past emotions and experiences, which truly feel like walking through someone else’s nightmare – while Jess’ own traumas are also making their way. The creatures that roam the island range from near-human to completely otherworldly, as the inhabitants of an as-yet-unknown dimension should be; great job representing this difference. Expect a terrifying and mysterious world that changes at every turn.

the craft of singing
You will need all the resources you can get to stay alive. Use them wisely.

Exploration, puzzles and resource management

The island of The Chant is divided into several areas, most of which are locked initially, and only accessible when you obtain the correct pendants to cross 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 interspersed with small secondary areas which contain lore, additional resources but also more threats at times – there is no map, orienteering is required . Later, fast travel is unlocked, but this mechanic feels redundant, since the world isn’t that big and walking back can lead to extra resources that you would skip with fast travel.

Much like a light survival horror, inventory is heavily limited by the number of resources you can carry, be it crafting tools, weapons, or consumables. You may very well have to leave something behind due to lack of space, but in most cases you can come back for it later. Each item has its own category, so there’s no need to drop anything to pick up something else, and critical items don’t take up any space either. These items can be combined to solve puzzles, such as creating an alchemical solution by 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 and manufacturing

Jess will have three main attributes: Mind, Body, and Spirit which each evolve in different ways and are also drained by various factors. For example, reading knowledge files will grant spirit points and be drained inside the alternate dimension, while defeating physical enemies like cultists will reward Body XP, 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 require crystals, found in the world, which act as skill points to enhance useful passive skills like damage resistance, stun enemies on a perfect parry, carry more consumables, etc This encourages exploration as the majority of crystals are hidden off the main path.

Crafting materials, mostly in the form of herbs and solutions, can be found all over the world and can be used to craft weapons and consumables. Since all weapons degrade with use, it is essential to constantly craft new ones. There may be a scenario where you’ll have to reload a previous save because you just don’t have everything, but that’s just a worst-case scenario that probably won’t happen.

Combat system and boss fights

Combat takes place in third person with mechanics like dodging, pushing, and light/heavy attacks as its foundations, as well as different damage types depending on the weapon or skill you’re using at the moment. All enemies have different attack patterns that would be wise to learn, and while all attacks stagger them, they will retaliate with powerful charged moves if hit repeatedly. All enemies are more vulnerable to specific damage types, for example using a Fire Lash (weapon) on physical enemies will deal extra damage – but there are also combinations like using Oil + Fire to increase the damage even more. Finding and reading bestiary entries in the world can give insight into an enemy’s skills and weaknesses at specific combos, further encouraging exploration.

Jess can also use her Spirit stat to power up six different skills, from offensive to defensive, which have powerful effects but also have a cooldown, like a shout that knocks enemies back for example. Consumables are an important part of combat and they can be set as traps on the ground or thrown, mostly with utility effects like slow, stun, stagger and others. It’s a shame that most enemies, even if they deal damage, are too slow and Jess has no stamina or cooldown to dodge, allowing spamming with impunity, dodging attacks quite easily . The system in place with The Chant is overall good and interesting, mostly because you don’t have to fight every enemy and arguably you shouldn’t, putting a bit more emphasis on “survival-horror” gameplay “.

chant avoiding enemies
Fighting isn’t always the best solution, especially when you can just move on.

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Dino J. Dotson