A Surprisingly Enjoyable Survival-ish Horror
One of the best aspects of reviewing games for my own site is that I am free from any overbearing weight to post a particular score. If something is awful, I can shout it to the world – and while some readers may be disappointed that my dislike for Homefront 2 nearly tops my list of trash games, so be it – and if a game is impeccable, I can express my awe without the fear of being shamed by the powers at be. After all, a review should be a mixture of things, but it should be an accurate examination of a product – hence why my review for Nier was a mid-70’s score despite my immense love for the game. In any case, The Chant will likely fall into a very divisive category amongst gamers and critics, with players either enjoying the B horror movie campiness and relatively uninspired combat or absolutely hating it.
The Chant serves as an intriguing foray into survival horror – perfect for newcomers to the genre and certainly enjoyable enough for seasoned veterans. The game centers around Jess, a young woman whose mental health suffers from a partaking in a tragic and traumatic experience when she was a kid. At the behest of her friend, Kim, Jess travels to a remote island to partake in a mental health wellness retreat. During the middle of a suspicious group chant, the circle is broken, and a bevy of negative energy is released upon the island.
From here, Jess begins a search for her now missing friend while overcoming battles with her own personal trauma and the obstacles presented on the island. Gameplay takes over, and you control Jess in her journey. The Chant plays as a very standard survival action horror game, where you’ll need to scavenge for items and upgradables while battling or avoiding a slew of increasingly difficult enemies. The twist in this one is that Jess can not navigate through areas thick with negative energy – she will need to find crystals with the matching energy color in order to do so. Combat consists of utilizing one of three types of weapons (occult, fire, spiritual) and a combination of projectiles (fire oil, salt, etc). It is a very simple process that certainly can dull out over time, but I found enjoyment in utilizing the proper weapon types against the proper enemies a fun task – something that encouraged a tiny bit of exploration in order to unlock the bestiary entries.
Visually, The Chant is a rather lackluster experience. The island itself looks pretty good, and sometimes the character models impressed – particularly in the distorted faces – but it was overall a very low budget appearance. It served to increase the overall campiness and B horror feeling to the game, however, so take that as you will. I found the entire experience to be ridiculous but charming, and I really enjoyed my time with the game. I considered a platinum runthrough, but I didn’t particularly want to battle some of the forced combat areas on the hardest difficulty. Normal was not difficult, but sometimes the combat was frustrating – or I would occasionally find myself stuck on invisible barricades. In any case, the positives did outweigh the frustrations, and I did have a pretty good time. In fact, I beat the game in a few days – which is pretty impressive for the amount of time I typically have to game.
If you can find The Chant for a discounted price, like I did, then it is absolutely worth your investment. It’s one of those obscure horror games that may age well or become a cult classic, so you have an opportunity to hop in when it is still fresh and unknown. While its flaws are evident and the acting is not the greatest, the over-the-top narrative does not take itself too seriously and feels like some of the best B horror movies I have experienced. For a horror game you’ve probably never heard of, The Chant provides a respectable product that could be way, way worse.