The Chant Review
The Chant is a survival horror game published by Prime Matter and developed by Brass Token. It tells the harrowing tale of Jess, a woman plagued by ghosts of the past, who travels to a remote island to be part of a spiritual retreat.
As she joins a commune of hippies, a botched ritual opened the gates for each member’s demons to manifest into reality. These Gloom entities become monstrous creatures that harm each individual member unless Jess can find a way to complete the ritual and escape the island.
Sound interesting enough?
Not A Cult
The Chant, at first glance, feels like a game from the previous generation, even if it was ironically only released for the PS5, Xbox Series, and PC. The visuals are painfully generic, and when paired with stiff movement and unrealistic ragdoll animations, they did not really impress.
The story of The Chant oozes B-movie trimmings all over, and the dialogue even gives it the feel of unintentional comedy, even when everything is played for seriousness. Jump scares litter the game generously, and there’s a fair amount of exposition that slows the first hour to a screeching halt.
However, The Chant, has some pretty good ideas when it comes to crafting a survival horror game with its simple crafting mechanics and creature designs. There’s a lot of love that went to the lore that the game has built, and reading through much of the found files and film reels gives it a sense of a horror world that could’ve been.
Exploration in The Chant is a bit too limited, where each chapter opens you up to a matching prism crystal you obtain at the end of every chapter. It’s pretty cool that you unlock a specific psychic skill and are able to enter a new area marked by a different prism color. As the chapters progress in The Chant, you’re left with a lot of backtracking, which can become annoying.
Combat in The Chant is straightforward to a fault. You can get away with attacking every enemy the same way, and then implementing traps and psychic abilities when you get swarmed. In fact, the same formula can be used throughout its 4-6 hour main campaign, making it feel like a repetitive slog.
There’s also a simple skill tree that we could’ve done without. You can increase three different stats: body, mind, and spirit. However, out of the three stats, it seems that they could’ve just kept it to one, which is the mind stat. It feels redundant to have two health bars when everything could’ve been centered on the mind and possibly a spirit bar to gauge your psychic attacks.
If there was one idea they could’ve expanded upon, focusing on the mental health metaphor, it would be the gloom creatures. Many of the gloom creatures manifests from each of the participants’ inner demons, so it would’ve hit harder if the combat could’ve been specifically just a mental battle the same way it was played out in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. After a while, the enemy attack patterns become generic, the puzzles are too obvious, and the story becomes predictable.
What We Liked:
- The lore and backstory are interesting.
- The idea of the Gloom creatures manifesting from the characters’ mental trauma is a nice touch.
What We Didn’t Like:
- Straightforward mechanics render the game generic.
- Uninspired presentation squanders its current-gen pedigree.
- A lot of backtracking.
Verdict: Wait For It
The Chant has some good ideas but unfortunately squanders its current-gen pedigree by delivering a straightforward survival horror that doesn’t innovate nor entertain. It could’ve followed suit from games such as Deadly Premonition, where it could’ve ramped up the unintentional comedy, or Senua’s Sacrifice, where they focused on its idea of manifesting mental trauma as gloom monsters.
Unfortunately, we’re left with a forgettable by-the-numbers survival horror game that tried too hard to become Resident Evil or Silent Hill when it could’ve stood on its own with its own charm and ideas. It’s a missed opportunity that could’ve been focused to become its own original horror game.
*The Chant was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.