Platform(s): Google Stadia, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Fishlabs Entertainment
Release Date: Dec. 3, 2021


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PS4 Review - 'Chorus'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Dec. 3, 2021 @ 7:00 a.m. PST

A dark space-combat shooter, Chorus is peerless pilot’s tale of redemption set within an enthralling galaxy harboring mystery, danger, and game-changing new abilities.

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Chorus is set in the distant future; humanity has advanced to the stars, but things are not pleasant. A world called The Void leaks into reality, bringing strange creatures that corrupt the universe. Humans can tap into The Void to gain superpowers, but a powerful cult has taken advantage of the powers to bring about Chorus: universal harmony and peace. Nara, the most elite member of the cult, goes rogue after the Great Prophet orders her to destroy an entire planet, and she also takes the sentient super-ship called Forsaken. Seven years later, Nara is living as a scavenger on the edge of humanity, but her peace is interrupted when the cult finds her. Now she and Forsaken must return to battle and stop them before they bring about a Chorus that can end the universe.

Chorus' plot is full of interesting ideas, and the mix of fantasy and action sci-fi is an enjoyable popcorn adventure. The biggest problem with the story is that the details range from poorly explained to incoherent. I'd be hard-pressed to tell you what a character's motivation might be or which groups they like or dislike. Certain characters are introduced and vanish from the story quite suddenly. It doesn't help that the side-quests aren't written or unlocked in a way that flows from the main storyline, so you can run into side-quests that talk about dead characters as if they're alive or discuss plot events that haven't occurred yet. I enjoy the weird mix of sinister horror and space adventure. It gives the game a distinct feel, even when compared to something like Dead Space. The title embraces magic and mystery, and it makes what might otherwise be a forgettable plot into something that's darn cool. I'd like to see more in this setting.

Chorus can best be described as an open-world arcade space shooter. You control Forsaken in a series of large, open areas, and you can explore as you like. You'll spend most of your time exploring various areas in space that may have side-quests and main quests. The primary reward is precious loot that can amplify your weapons and abilities. Rather nicely for this sort of game, the loot isn't randomized. Loot tiers represent a rough tier of power rather than rarity. It's a welcome relief to just get a new gun and not have to pray to the RNG gods for it to be something other than vendor trash.

Combat is very arcade-style. Movement is quick and easy, and targeting is largely automated as long as you're pointing at the enemy. You can weave, dodge, boost and fly around. I appreciate how easy the game is to pick up and play. Movement feels fantastic, and you can weave through enemy fire or tight spaces without any real issue. You don't start off with all of your mobility options, but you get them fairly quickly.

Primary weapons come in three flavors — Gatling gun, laser and missile — and you can swap between them. Gatling guns are rapid-firing and do high reliable damage but are ineffective against shielded or armored enemies. Lasers are slow and need time to charge between shots but are effective on shields. Missiles are slow and ineffective against speedy or shielded targets, but they tear through the health of armored or slow targets. In theory, you'll swap between the three regularly, but the game makes guns less important. By the end, I stuck with missiles or Gatling guns, depending on my mood.

What sets apart Chorus from most space shooters is Nara's special powers. She has Rites, which lets her perform over-the-top special maneuvers that give her a massive advantage over enemies. The first rite that you unlock is the ability to Drift, which allows you to change direction while maintaining your forward momentum. You can turn and strafe an enemy or pull a 180-degree turnaround and shoot a foe behind you without stopping. This becomes a basic part of combat, and you'll quickly learn how to drift and boost to get the most out of Forsaken's weaponry.

Nara's powers only get crazier from there. Your second ability allows you to instantly teleport behind an enemy. Your third lets you shoot lightning to destroy shields and disable ships so they crash into walls. Your fourth turns your ship into a laser beam that tears through enemies like butter. Your fifth means you can grab enemy ships and throw them at each other. By the time you reach the end of the game, you've ascended from "has a pretty good ship" to "nigh-omnipotent superbeing," which is not the level of power gain you'd expect from a space shooter.

The nice thing about your powers is that they can be used pretty regularly. You have an energy bar that fuels rites, and each rite takes one or more chunks of the bar. As you progress, you can unlock upgrades that expand the size of your bar or reduce the cost of abilities. This gives the game a good sense of progress, as you'll go from using your powers as a secondary function to using them as your primary method of engagement.

If anything, this can be disappointing because it overwhelms some other choices. For example, the Rite of the Storm (the aforementioned lightning storm) means that lasers aren't useful anymore. Rite of the Star (laser beam) means that for much of the game, you can fly through enemies without firing a shot, especially if you upgrade it. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, but it's less exciting to get new weapons when Nara's godlike superpowers make them feel like a second option.

Chorus' combat is genuinely engaging and manages to remain fun throughout. Part of what makes it work is that the various rites and magical powers give it a very distinctive feel. It's probably among the closest representations to the kind of excessive nonsense you might see in a mecha anime, rather than anything more realistic. It's incredibly fun to drift so you can pepper an enemy carrier with laser blasts followed by turning into a giant bolt of magical energy to literally smash through its exposed core. The combat was wearing a bit thin by the time the game ended, but I had quite a lot of fun.

Outside of combat, Chorus is fairly thin. There are a lot of side-quests, but they largely fall into the same category of "go to place, shoot down enemies," or "go to a location and watch a memory of an earlier event." Neither is bad, but they're not exciting. The most interesting part is how they flesh out the world setting — and the precious loot they give. The best loot provides improvements to make your rites even more powerful.

I was pretty impressed with Chorus' visuals. While some of the texture work is slightly iffy, the art design is excellent. I love the mesh of futuristic space stations and sinister horror. There are some awesome-looking environments and settings that really shine. If I had one complaint, it would be that the out-of-ship cut scenes jerk and stutter, which stands out among the otherwise smooth gameplay. The voice acting is mostly good but suffers from some awkward moments. Occasionally, actors don't seem to have the proper context, which makes some of their line readings feel off. Sometimes, the game tries too hard to give characters "quirks" to make them memorable, but it fell flat.

Overall, Chorus is a fun arcade-style space shooter. The open world isn't super engaging, and the plot can be a touch messy, but they're secondary to the fun of piloting your super ship as you spin, shoot lightning, and turn into lasers. If you're in the mood for an entertaining and punchy space shooter with some cool mechanics, then Chorus fits the bill. I wish the plot were better conveyed and there were more variety in side-quests, but that certainly doesn't mar the experience. At the end of the day, you're blowing up Cthulhus with your magic space anime powers, and isn't that all it needs to be?

Score: 8.0/10

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