THE CHANT is a game that has intrigued me since it started its social media advertising campaign over the last year. I wasn’t too sure what to make of the game at first sight, but there was just something about it that I wanted to learn more about.
Will this be a surprise hit of the year for horror fans out there? Or will this be a generic survival game not worthy of your time? Let’s delve into the world that Brass Token created should we?
The game starts out all the way back on an remote area called Glory Island where you are thrown into the final stages of a ritual where it looks like there are a few young women about to be sacrificed, in which one of the daughters manages to escape and run away, triggering a chase scene where not only are the followers after you, but in an almost gloomy haze, there are flower based monsters blocking you way as you try to escape. Not wanting to submit to her chasers, she decided to take a dive off the edge of a cliff, seemingly stopping the ritual.
Fast forward to the present day and we meet Jess, a twenty something old woman on a jog and she is confronted with a vision of a dead body laying in a creek as she is running past. This then prompts her to call her friend and advise her ‘she is in’.
Not a moment later and you are on a boat to the same island that you saw in the opening. Here it is you meet the other inhabitants of the island, all under the guise of Guru Tyler. The owner and leader of this ‘cultish’ bunch of people. From the outset, you even say you are feeling ‘cultish vibes’ from everyone here as it offers spiritual awakening and healing.
This leads to the game mechanics, which are, mind, body and spirit. Mind will gauge your sanity, body is your health and spirit control skill you gain later in the game as well as being able to meditate to replenish your mind.
Your mind meter will deplete if you are in the dark or in prismic areas of the game, we will get to that later on, body is obviously your health as you take damage and soul is used up healing your mind or expending energy on skills. These can all be replenished from finding natural herbs and mushroom found while exploring the island, and trust me, you will need to keep your eyes out for these.
At the end of the first night, you are all handed a prism, which is like a crystal, all coloured differently and ready to take part in the ritual. But obviously, something goes bad and it starts off what will be a long night on Glory Island as your best friend gets scared and makes a run for it, halting the ritual.
This is when The Chant turns into a really awesome horror game as you are not using weapons or anything to fight off enemies. The ritual has unleashed unknown horrors onto the island and seems to be affecting all who took part in it. Areas are consumed by something that is only known as ‘The Gloom’ coloured off dimensions which can only be entered if you own the coloured prism that everyone owns.
You are haunted by a swarm of flies that will relentlessly chase you without being able to kill it, while the other followers are haunted by their own demons.
There is no map in the game and at times you can find yourself lost, especially if your mind meter depletes and you are unable to attack so the only option is to run. There are signs all over the island, so that’s about all the help you will get. I did manage to get myself lost sometimes heading back to the main hub area which you will frequently head back to after completing an area of the game.
With The Chant is a third person horror, action-adventure game, which it also lends some inspiration to the survival horror genre too. Monsters found across the island can only be fought off with sage and other natural smokey weapons which seem to cleanse the areas of these as well as when in an area consumed by The Gloom, there are huge flowers in most of the areas which after being defeated cleans the place you are in and dispel the monsters attacking you there.
Everything you collect is required to be combined with another to create, so you will need to manage your items well and craft what works best for you. All up there are three main attack weapons and three throwable items, such as salt to stun the monsters.
I really enjoyed the simple combat in The Chant and sometimes when I was low on resources and health, I had no option but to run away. I loved these mechanics and the bosses in each area caused a few headaches at first, but it was never the game being too cheap, it was just my risk/reward of trying to hit them more times then I should have when I should have been dodging and creating space between myself and these weird creatures.
Throughout your time in The Chant, you will find many documents and old film reels explained lore of the world including what had happened all those years ago back in 1972 as well as Guru Tyler notes of all the retreat members and what they are there for. I made sure to read all these lore notes as they really did a great job of explaining the story and diving deeper into what was really going on here.
The game isn’t all horror and fighting though, there are many puzzles that need to be solved in each area, such as collecting multiple iron shapes that, once combined will open up new areas, keys to unlock doors and many light based puzzles, some of these really had me stuck but they were thoughtful and all different, meaning they never got old as each one seemed new and interesting.
The characters in The Chant seemed a bit weird looking at the start of the game as you could tell this wasn’t made by a AAA studio but once the game went on, I really didn’t notice them all that much and learned to love the overall art style of this game. The areas were all different even though they took place on the same island. There were mines to explore, old lighthouses and communal areas where everyone once lived.
But I will tell you this, the best part of this game had to be the sound team, from the voiceovers to the moody electric rock soundtrack, these were all spot on and overall enhance your experience with The Chant. The people who worked in the sound department in this game should all be commended for such a great job.
If you can’t tell already, I really loved this game. There was nothing I enjoyed more than playing this in the dark with my headset on and soaking in the creepy atmosphere of this, perhaps my surprise game of the year. How can I tell I loved it? Well after playing this for around 15-20 hours I was compelled to support Brass Token and their first original IP by buying a physical copy of this game.
From start to finish I was enthralled by the game’s story and characters, each damaged in their own rights and it all lead to an end boss that made me go ‘WTF’ (In a good way) As The Chant came to an end I realised that it also supports multiple playthroughs as it seems there are three different mind/body/spirit endings which are decided on how you answer the other retreat members.
Do yourself a favour – if you’re a fan of the horror genre and pick up this 1970’s inspired game.