The Chant is the first game released by Brass Token, a game development studio based in Vancouver, Canada led by AAA veterans behind games like Bully, Max Payne 3, and one of my favourites, Sleeping Dogs.
You take control of Jess, who was invited to this spiritual retreat by her friend Kim, whose friendship dissipated after Jess’ sister’s death. At this spiritual retreat, you meet Maya, Sonny, Hannah, and the leader of the prismic science retreat, Tyler (who looks like Jared Leto). After a group chant ritual goes pear-shaped, a portal to the nightmare dimension called The Gloom opens.
This dimension feeds off negative energy and starts driving you and the others mad, preying on your anxieties and fears, and manifesting as interdimensional creatures: ultimately taking you on a journey of psychedelic horror the likes of which you have never experienced before.
The Chant’s gameplay is essentially The Dark Pictures Anthology with survival-horror elements to it. Which I love. It’s important to note that this is not a AAA game, and as such there are some minor infractions throughout the game. The graphics don’t feel ‘current gen’ but I think that lends favour to the classic horror genre. That said, some of the locations and landscapes are absolutely gorgeous and caught me completely off guard.
Jess has three types of meters as she progresses through her journey of madness – mind, body, and spirit. The mind meter is Jess’ sanity, if the meter runs out Jess will have a panic attack which means she can’t do anything except run. Having a panic attack in the middle of an important fight can make the difference between life and death. The mind meter can be replenished using the meditation method which depletes the Spirit meter, or by consuming lavender. The body meter is your health bar, which can be replenished by eating ginger. The spirit meter can be used to use your special powers, and as mentioned earlier, meditate. This mechanic is my favourite thing that Brass Token brought to life in this game.
The combat felt a little janky initially but I eventually grew an appreciation for it. There are many different ways to approach a fight; you can fight with different weapons which are all crafted using materials found around the island, or you can use special attacks, which are powered by the crystals you collect from your fellow prismic science followers. My favourite combat mechanic was the desperate dodge which has Jess plummet to the ground in desperation to dodge an attack. It emits the vibe of a classic horror film where everyone trips over everything when they’re in danger.
The upgrading system is used to increase your mind, body, and spirit meters as well as increase consumable effects. It was a breath of fresh air having an upgrading system so unelaborated; it is rare to see a ‘skill tree’ that isn’t a sensory overload.
Puzzles are sprinkled throughout the game which I found weren’t too innovative or difficult. I enjoyed solving them however they lacked inspiration and were a bit repetitive after a while. Exploration around the island is grand with lore sprinkled around every nook and cranny. If you love to deep-dive into worlds like this, you will not be disappointed.
The voice acting is well-rounded with performances by Siobhan Williams (The Quarry), Emily Tennant (Mr. Young), Kira Clavell, Adam Millard, Praneet Akilla, Nicole Anthony, and Mark Oliver (League of Legends). Composer Paul Ruskay (Homeworld, Turok, Sega Soccer Slam) throws in his magic to make the overall experience in The Chant a cohesive one.
The Chant is a hidden gem among some big releases in November, one that may be overlooked by many. The unique story and gameplay mechanics, accompanied by the quirks of a classic horror film make this experience a one-of-a-kind that should be enjoyed by all survival-horror fans. I can’t wait to see what Brass Token’s next venture will be.
The Chant is now available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.