LifeisXbox’s The Chant review | The Chant is a new survival horror title by Brass Token and Prime Matter. It’s set on a remote spiritual island retreat with some very culty vibes. You play as Jess, a young woman who has been dealing with the loss of her sister (in part due to her own fault) and is looking for a way to deal with her grief and overwhelming feeling of guilt.
Soon after reaching the island, a ritual she takes part in goes wrong and cosmic horrors are set free on the island. To survive, you’ll have to craft, fight, and solve minor puzzles to set things right again. Take on a psychedelic trip and uncover the many mysteries the island has to hide, including the original cult from the 1970’s where all members have died or vanished in mysterious ways.
Most Memorable Moment
The Chant is full of creepy moments, especially in its cutscenes. This one in particular, where someone accepts their fate with open arms was rather gloomy.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Cult setting | Having the game take place on a remote island operated by a small cult gives it a nice and eery vibe. You know from the start that things will go wrong, but it’s still fun to see the events play out. Especially finding out the motivations of the other members and seeing how their weaknesses were exploited to convince them to rally behind this cause.
- Collecting Lore & Items | The Chant offers plenty of incentive to explore each area, with hidden documents or rolls of film giving you more inside information into how the cult came to be, and also interesting bestiary listings on the many otherworldly creatures that roam the island after the failed ritual. You’ll also have to craft weapons or use crystals you find to upgrade your character, giving you the needed motivation to check every nook and cranny.
- Mind, Body & Spirit | There are three main resources to keep an eye on in The Chant. Mind is your sanity meter, going down in the dark or when you’re in the Gloom, the game’s alternate dimensions that crosses into our world. Body is for your physical injuries or your health and Spirit is used to use magical incantations or to meditate and restore your Mind. When you talk to the other members, you can reply with an answer stemming from one of these three values, but it only comes into play a handful of times.
- Spiritual Incantations | For each prism you obtain, you will be able to enter new zones and also earn a new magical attack. These are pretty effective and range from sending out spirits to attack your enemies, or summon ghouls that grab them from the ground and hold them in place.
- Sound | The soundtrack of The Chant does a good enough job at accompanying the set piece moments, but at the same time failed to really stand out. The voice acting on the other hand was mostly great and especially the monster’s eery screams and sounds delivered the ominous vibes needed to place you in a feeling of distress.
- Visuals | The Chant can vary wildly in how good it looks. Most characters and environments seem nice enough in screenshots but can break that uncanny valley barrier with certain facial animations. I did get the Limited Edition which came with a 1970’s filter and that oddly made me enjoy the game more, giving it a closer experience to playing survival horrors in the heyday of the genre.
- The combat | Almost all the combat in The Chant is close-ranged or melee-based, but using things like incense sticks or burning branches doesn’t feel very impactful. It’s just odd to me that holding something that barely gives you any additional range beyond your own fists is the prime weapon of choice. Between the incense, salt and scented oils, this game almost feels like a commercial for The Body Shop.
- Puzzles | I only counted two real puzzles in the game, and they were pretty easy to solve. I did appreciate how they were contained in a small zone though, whereas games like Resident Evil spread out their puzzle items too far apart making it less obvious where to use them. But one thing all of these games suffer from is that sometimes it really doesn’t make a lot of sense in the game’s world: Do you need to open a door? Better collect 6 coloured orbs from across the area first and put them in the correct slot… I mean, a door handle would have been much more convenient, no?
What we Disliked
- Replayability | The Chant only takes around 4 hours to beat, maybe 5 if you explore a bit more, and while one playthrough should be enough to get your fill out of this title, the achievements require you to beat it at least three times, each time with a different main focus on Mind, Body or Spirit. This kind of artificial inflation of the total playtime doesn’t feel right to me, as each playthrough will be very similar to the previous one, with only a different ending being shown.
- It’s not scary | For a game that labels itself as a horror title, it fails to ever come close to frightening me. Just having some monsters in a game isn’t enough and especially the way Jess deals with all the bad things happening to her make you feel like you’re never truly in any danger. She takes on the role of a heroine almost from the get-go and seeing all the cosmic horrors barely makes her flinch.
How long to beat the story | ~4h30
How long to achieve 1000G | ~12-14 hours
Want to see the game in action? Check our Let’s Play of the first hour:
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.