The Chant is a survival horror adventure that features some quirky mechanics up its sleeves. The main protagonist, Jess has to balance her mind, body and spirit as she trudges through a haunted, definitely-not-suss island retreat, brimming with creepy, plant-based monsters… And no, not vegans in this case.
A Lacklustre Holiday Gone Wrong
Not long after the events of the prologue, where we see an unknown woman on an island frantically trying to escape from a ritualistic ceremony, Jess finds herself visiting the same locale a few years after for a “spiritual getaway”. Little does she know of the horrors that will unfold later that night, as the self-proclaimed Guru, Tyler begins shouting the titular Chant. And of course—you guessed it—things go very wrong, very quickly. Jess and her companions are shrouded in a neon-coloured “gloom” and her old friend, Kate has suddenly gone berserk. This propels Jess to find the root cause of the problem and forces her to face the demons of her past, still aching from the loss of a younger sister years ago.
The story does seem pretty interesting at first, although it does start to drop off in quality around the 2-3 hour mark. The major issue is that character arcs are brought up and resolved without much impact, leaving behind a hollow sensation that can’t be escaped. The voice actors do a decent enough job with what they’ve been given, but sometimes they can sound really stilted. Like when characters stare at each other in certain scenes, their awkward-looking models, facial animations and crummy line deliveries make them come across as mindless puppets. Fittingly enough, this is a slasher-inspired horror game after all. But even though it has that campy feel to it, these moments really take you out of the experience.
Balancing The Spirit
Jess’ spiritual aspect allows her to dish out multiple magic attacks but also makes her vulnerable to assaults of the mind and body, with both being fatal if either drops below zero. To counteract this somewhat, Jess can meditate to restore her mind gauge at the cost of taking away from her spirit (AKA the MP bar) which is a finite resource. The battle system itself is fairly straightforward, incorporating a simple three-hit combo approach mixed in with consumable weapons and items that can stun enemies, slow their movement or explode on impact. The lack of a lock-on button is an annoying omission and the dodging mechanic is a bit too overpowered, as it can absolutely trivialise most of the game’s encounters. But as a whole, even though the combat can seem a tad clunky at times, it’s ultimately a fast and tense affair; giving players just enough resources to survive the night.
The puzzles aren’t too complicated, just like the game’s narrative. In that classic Resident Evil style, players can combine items to create several concoctions to aid in Jess’ journey, as most of the puzzles are environmental-based. For example, finding one fuse after another to gradually light up an area, or aligning beams of light to form a larger pattern. It all helps to keep things fresh while not becoming too cryptic like some of the earlier Silent Hill games. These are also the sections where Jess can find a lot of The Chant’s loot, film reels for added lore and information on how to defeat the game’s monsters more efficiently.
Jess can even upgrade the potency of her restorative items, temporarily slow down/stun enemies when certain conditions are met and unlock various other effects when players find Prismic Crystals hidden around the map. On a related note, Jess has the option to fast-travel around the island and restart from the last checkpoint or chapter if she wanders too far off the main course. Something that happened at least twice or thrice during my playthrough. The frame rate stays at a solid 60FPS but does stutter on PC when moving through specific parts of the island, even with NVIDIA DLSS turned on. Fortunately, the music is very easy on the ears. Featuring a range of tribal-based instruments and reverb-drenched synths that induces a particularly ethereal ambience.
This action-focused, survival horror take features a number of magical attacks, enemy-specific consumables and the balancing of mind, body and spirit to brave the storm. However, Jess’ story isn’t memorable in the slightest, while other main character arcs come and go faster than green grass through a goose. There are some enjoyable puzzles and music scattered throughout, and the fast-travel, bestiary guides and skill tree upgrades complement the game quite nicely. But overall, The Chant doesn’t offer anything spectacular. It’s still worth checking out, especially considering the game’s low price point. Although, the best practice should be to keep your expectations in check.
The Chant has some compelling aspects on paper, although it ultimately boils down to a fairly generic survival horror experience. I did enjoy the somewhat janky combat and environmental puzzles more than most others would, but the bare bones story and lack of character depth does start to wear thin long before the credits roll on this 7-hour adventure.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by PLAION. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.