REVIEW – This is a run-of-the-mill third-person single-player horror game. Almost nothing makes it memorable, not even the fact that it has a cosmic horror twist. As a result, this game comes, stays for a few minutes, then goes, or maybe even fails to hold your attention. As a result, Brass Token and Prime Matter’s game can best be defined by one word: forgettable.
A third-person, single-player horror action-adventure game set on a remote spiritual island retreat. To survive, you must craft, fight, and escape the psychedelic horrors unleashed when a spiritual ritual goes awry, unleashing a dimension of cosmic terror.
Clumsy Clashes: Jess and the Awkward Art of Combat
The Chant’s combat system is slow, and well, you could argue that a survival horror isn’t usually designed to make the protagonist strong and powerful, but when the combat itself is excruciating, it’s far from a Silent Hill (the FIRST part of which was on PS1 in 1999). Jess is forced to fight a lot, but it feels so weightless that it’s clearly one of the game’s negatives, even if he’s not meant to be an action hero, because in a place where Prismatic Science is camped and the Betterment Retreat is taking place, he couldn’t be. OK, there’s some grumbling about how cultish the setting feels, but that doesn’t make the product memorable. The fact that she’s barefoot and wearing a linen dress doesn’t make it memorable either. The six characters then fall apart after Jesst’s only friend is attacked on the spot, so our character starts looking around the island, only to find that darkness covers a significant portion of the map. These are interdimensional places connected to crystal prisms, and they belong to one of the cult members.
The fewer of these there are, the closer you get to the end of a product that takes about four hours to complete. That’s not enough time for the story to sink in, but it can’t anyway, as the story and its elements are often not well explained, and it’s not certain that many people will start turning over every stone to get some kind of background information (lore). It’s hard to identify with the characters, and it’s also hard to overlook the predictable way they lose their minds over the course of six very short chapters. The traumas and cosmic horrors that emerge in the narrative simply don’t get a chance to unfold, dragging the whole game towards a shrugging (and cringe-worthy) assessment. The fact that Jess has her own otherworldly henchman, a body made of flies, isn’t terrifying. The supernatural powers will only inspire awe at first, after which yawning, or more likely uninstalling, will take over. But the otherworld is not much to look forward to either, as The Gloom is neither memorable nor lasting.
Holiday of Horrors: A Deep Dive into The Gloom
As you venture into the darkness, you’ll encounter more natural-looking enemies, including demonic zombies that, depending on your character, will sneak up on you and threaten you. When you get close to them, they start moving towards you. Our protagonist’s skill set includes the ability to push them back, but counter-attacks will have a greater role and benefit, as the weapons themselves (which would be better named in quotes, as they are not really weapons…) will quickly wear out. If this was Brass Token’s way of portraying hopelessness, they have failed. The fights are not fun, in fact they are forced into the game, because without them The Chant would be even shorter, and it’s safe to say LOL.
Oh, and while you’re wandering around The Gloom, you need to watch your mental state, otherwise you’ll have uncontrollable panic attacks. Soul, the other energy bar, is good for prismatic abilities (e.g. invisibility cloak, what, Harry Potter was that popular with the developers?) and Body, of course, covers your physical health. It’s with these three bars that the game tries to keep you on your toes. The concept is more than a decade old, as Amnesia: The Dark Descent had something similar, but there were only two bars instead of three. Whoopdeedoo. Oh, and the boss fights are terrible because more than once, whoops, Jess dies instantly, so you could treat them as puzzles so you don’t make the same mistake again. Whose stupid idea was that?
The Chant – A new dimension of tedium
…multiply that by two and add half to get The Chant’s score. Being an indie game, it deserves a six and a half out of ten, otherwise it would have got a four out of ten. The fact that the game has three endings also plays a part in the relatively fair rating, but it is questionable how much replayability the player will have once they have completed the story for the first time. Probably not much, but it might be worth a look for fans of the genre.
+ His style is not so bad
+ Three endings
+ Somewhat pleasing considering it’s not a AAA game
– The fights
Publisher: Prime Matter (Embracer Group)
Developer: Brass Token
Release: November 3, 2023.