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The Chant Review – A Valiant Attempt (PS5)

The Chant review

The first thing which struck me when playing through The Chant for this review, was just how ambitious this thing was for a game developed by an indie studio. I feel like that last phrase; “for a game developed by an indie studio,” is going to be repeated a lot throughout this review and pretty much sums up my overall thoughts on The Chant.

The Chant is a perfectly palatable experience with some neat ideas, but its technical shortcomings hamper the creative goals that it is striving for to the point where it is distracting from the ambitious ingenuity present in the game.

With that being said, the ambition on display here is commendable. Brass Token have swung for the fences with their debut title and those big swings result in some of the game’s best moments. The Chant isn’t the most polished experience that I’ve had with a game in 2022, although it does take place in one of the most unique settings I have ever seen in a game.

The Chant is out now and is available on PS5, Xbox Series X and PC.

The presentation in The Chant is ambitious, even if it does feel a little unpolished and rough around the edges. The character models look as though they have been taken from a PS3 game from around ten years ago. The animations also come across as somewhat stiff and awkward. This sub-par level of animation and graphical quality clashes with the game’s cool artistic direction. This conflict results in some interesting visual moments, but also exemplifies the over-ambitious nature of this game.

The decent water effects combined with the game's lighting can occasionally lead to visually appealing moments like this one.
The decent water effects combined with the game’s lighting can occasionally lead to visually appealing moments like this one.

That said, the environment does make for an interesting place to set a game. The setting of the wellness retreat immediately calls to mind things like Midsommar and The Wicker Man. Unfortunately this game isn’t as scary as the original Wicker Man, nor is it as endearing as the remake starring Nicolas Cage.

In fact, for a game that markets itself as a horror game, I can’t recall experiencing any real scares while playing through The Chant. When watching the trailer for this title, I was somewhat reminded of The Dark Pictures Anthology from Supermassive Games. Unfortunately the tone and atmosphere in The Chant is nowhere near as eerie or foreboding as the palpable trepidacious atmosphere felt in a Supermassive title.

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Whilst the voice acting is passable across the board, the cast of characters has been written as some of the most unlikable, whiny hippies that you can imagine for some odd reason. I was never to relate to any of the game’s characters on a personal level, nor did I ever feel any sense of peril when they were in danger. If anything, I was looking forward to their deaths just so that I didn’t have to suffer through hearing them spout any more of their self-important nonsense.

This extends to the main character, Jess Briars. She is also very much of the, ‘woe-is-me,’ mentality and her attitude is immediately off-putting. Jess also isn’t the brightest of protagonists either. On her first day at this, ‘wellness retreat,’ (which looks like something out of Jared Leto’s wet dream,) she acknowledges that this whole setup “feels cult-y.”

Jess is the queen of ignoring red flags.
Jess is the queen of ignoring red flags.

However she never does anything about it and simply goes along with the program until things begin to go very wrong very quickly. And I mean VERY quickly. This is one of the most immersion-breaking elements of the game. We have barely learned everyone’s name in the camp before things start going insane and the residents start trying to murder each other. A few cast members only get a few lines before they are screaming at the top of their lungs, seemingly possessed by a demonic entity.

It truly feels as though everything was going fine until Jess turned up at the camp and then everything suddenly went to hell in a handbasket within a few hours. Whilst I’m sure that it would have been pretty boring to spend the first few hours of gameplay mediating and drinking herbal tea, something could have been done to better ease the audience in the ensuing madness to make the tonal shift feel less jarring.

The gameplay in The Chant is another area where it doesn’t feel like a premium experience. The main thing that The Chant wants the player to focus on during gameplay are three depleting meters named Mind, Body and Soul respectively. These metres prove to be little more than minor inconveniences when playing through the game.

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Whilst it may sound as though managing those metres may lead to some intense resource management whilst taking part in combat and puzzle solving, it really amounts to little more than collecting some highlighted objects in the environment to keep these metres full and avoiding dark areas and physical attacks as much as possible.

Although combat didn’t seem to be a priority for the developers of The Chant, that doesn’t excuse how egregiously limited and simple the combat controls and options are in the game. All that you have to fend off enemies is a stick of burning sage and some salt, although these basic weapons are adequate enough to fend off any enemy type in the game. It all feels very surface-level.

Swing, swing, dodge is pretty much the only button combination that players need to memorise in order to master the lacklustre combat system in The Chant.
Swing, swing, dodge is pretty much the only button combination that players need to memorise in order to master the lacklustre combat system in The Chant.

The Chant is not a challenging game by any means. The combat is not only unsatisfying and dull, it is also exceedingly easy, even on the hardest difficulty. The only slightly challenging moments of gameplay are the puzzles and boss fights that the game presents, but even then some trial and error is all that it takes to make progress to the next stage. Once Jess’ psychic abilities manifest seemingly out of nowhere, things become laughably easy to the point that going through the motions of combat feels mind-numbing.

One highlight of the game is the enemy design in The Chant. Whilst you may be able to easily dispatch any of them with enough well-timed dodges and a few swipes with a sage stick, at least their design is cool. The somewhat disturbing monster design of the enemies is the only thing remotely creepy about The Chant. One of the more memorable creature designs is reminiscent of the Demogorgon from Stranger Things.

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Speaking of the popular Netflix series, there is an element of The Chant which is heavily reminiscent of the Upside Down from that show. Some areas of the game include force-fields which drain your ‘Mind,’ metre while you explore them. Entering these areas feels akin to dimension hopping in the style of Stranger Things.

Overall, playing through The Chant feels somewhat like watching a child attempt to run before it has learned to walk. Whilst I admire and appreciate Brass Token’s ambition to create an original IP in a unique location, it is just a shame that they weren’t able to pull it off in a smoother fashion. With that being said there is a foundation of interesting ideas here and I am keen to see what Brass Token have up their sleeve for their next project.


6 Out of 10

The Chant was reviewed on PS5 with a code provided by PLAION.

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Written by Daniel Boyd

Daniel is a 27-year-old writer from Glasgow. He graduated from university with an honours degree in 3D Animation, before pivoting to pursue his love for critical writing. He has also written freelance pieces for other sites such as and The Big Glasgow Comic Page. He loves movies, video games and comic books.