Review – Chorus
Despite featuring one of the worst usages of a Latin-infused font, making its Us look like Vs, Chorus is a space combat game announced a couple years ago that promised to deliver a thrilling storyline with fast-paced flying combat. I was eager to find out what developer Fishlabs, mostly known for its series of space shooters aimed specifically at mobile, could do when given enough resources to develop a full-fledged shooter with PC and modern consoles in mind. It’s time to see if Fishlabs was able to deliver on their promise.
The premise of Chorus is a fairly basic one. The Circle rules the galaxy with a simple mission: anyone that doesn’t join the Chorus will be obliterated. You play as Nara, an elder of the cult who decides to leave after she is responsible for the destruction of an entire planet. On the run from the Cult, she joins an outpost in the far reaches of space, but as the cult spreads across the galaxy, she has no choice but to fight. It won’t be an easy fight, and she needs the help of an old friend, her old sentient ship, the Forsaken, who has been locked away.
Chorus definitely has a fascinating setup. It combines sci-fi with glimpses of cosmic horror and cult themes, that oddly feels like a love letter to Dead Space‘s own in-universe cult, Unitology. Its universe is interesting, but not fully explored. When emotional moments are supposed to hit, they just don’t stick the landing thanks to bland and uninteresting characters. It’s also a bold move to make the main protagonist’s first act in the story about the complete destruction of a planet, and it’s a shame it doesn’t live up to its huge potential. It’s strongest aspect is the Titanfall 2-style relationship between Nara and her ship, Forsaken.
Whilst the story doesn’t quite nail its full potential, the gameplay comes really close to doing so. The ship combat is fast and responsive. Although, it does take some getting used to at first. Chorus‘ trick is with Nara’s ability to wield rites, which allow her to use special abilities to further boost her flight potential. Drifting allows Forsaken to strafe sideways mid-flight to hit targets. At first I was stumbling with this mechanic, but quickly became adjusted. As you progress further you will gain access to more rites, such as the amazing phase shift that allows you to quickly teleport directly behind enemies. Of course there are many more to discover as well.
Before long I was drifting in and out of space stations and performing shifts in some chaotic combat encounters. It truly felt like one of those cinematic trailers. The rites ensure that the core gameplay of Chorus is always at breakneck speeds, whilst adding a layer of tactics and resource management. Playing on normal difficulty, the game felt a touch on the easier side (despite not being too familiar with space combat games) with the exception of a few difficulty spikes. As such, I’d recommend bringing the difficulty up one notch, but be prepared for some difficult encounters as well. Regardless of difficulty, Chorus was always a blast from start to finish.
Whilst Chorus is a total blast, it’s not without its share of issues. Some of the larger ships feel underwhelming and overly easy to take out. Also, the open world and RPG elements feel half-baked. Missions give you credits, but there’s really not much to spend those credits on, other than really basic upgrades. There’s simply really not a lot going on in the world. I also encountered a few moments where an enemy would get stuck on objects, making them hard to find even with the sonar pulse, which can lead to some frustrating moments. Regardless, Chorus‘s core mechanics are good enough to carry its fifteen to eighteen hour campaign.
Visually there are some stunning sights, and flying through the battle fields destroying ships looks amazing. In the midst of action, Chorus does a phenomenal job of making sure you aren’t too distracted whilst in battle. Just look too close and the cracks start to form. There are some low resolution textures and an overall lack of detail, particularly in the rough character models. It’s a good looking game… from a distance.
Sound design is also fairly solid. It has some great ambience and a soundtrack that perfectly suits this setting. This voice acting approach definitely won’t be to everyone’s liking, however. It doesn’t do a convincing job hitting the emotional moments of the story, and Nara’s soft whispering paints a bleak picture of her views on the world and the people in them.
Chorus is a great game that just doesn’t quite meet its full potential. The amazing story setup doesn’t manage to hit the mark, with lacklustre characters and underwhelming emotional moments. One the other hand, the combat is definitely worth getting into, with some fantastically smooth controls once you get used to them. Fishlabs’ first attempt at a bigger-budgeted game ended up being a good one, and this is worth checking out if you’re in need of a substitute for the Rogue Squadron series of games.
As long as you don’t look too closely, not paying attention at its lack of detail Chorus looks quite good.
Piloting the Forsaken is a joyous experience thanks to great controls and unique abilities.
A solid soundtrack and great ambience makes up for the lacklustre voice acting
Fun Factor: 8.0
Chorus doesn’t quite hit its full potential due to its lacklustre story, but is a great space flight game that makes up for its shortcomings with some excellent controls.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Chorus is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X.
Reviewed on PC with an RTX 2060, Ryzen 5 3600X and 16GB RAM (Installed on SSD).
A copy of Chorus was provided by the publisher.