The Chant – Test: I just find it frightening how low-tension this horror trip is

The Chant – Test: I just find it frightening how low-tension this horror trip is

The interesting approach is given away narratively, while the playful potential in the straightforward search for the key is hardly used.

I’m not really sure where to start because The Chant left me feeling empty. Because nothing was special in any way and certainly not particularly good. Because even the story was a fairly inconsequential tale of crystals and creatures that I thrashed with, well, sage. I had the impression beforehand that The Chant was supposed to be something special. As if there was a creative idea behind it. But if there are, at least I haven’t found them apart from a few good ideas.

The plot is even told in a very bumpy way, because you learn at the beginning that Jess is going to a desert island to recover from a traumatic experience. But once she gets there, everything happens way too fast. For the sake of convenience, it only outlines how the game works, which is why, after literally two sentences, Maya, an important person you’ve just met, sends you on a search for herbs. The fact that a later important character was introduced is completely lost.

The Chant is classic survival horror: you steer Jess through dark paths and narrow spaces by looking over your shoulder.

You can then walk around a bit in the camp of the group, which has come together on the island as a kind of spiritual community – but shortly afterwards a ritual begins, which of course gets out of hand and calls a number of aggressive beings into action. From then on, the members of the group are possessed or otherwise befuddled, which is why they are eliminated one by one. To do this, you walk through narrow paths from key to key to open locked entrances, fight the creatures and their bosses and soon the other people too.

Developer Brass Token wants to tell a “cosmic horror action-adventure” that balances on the border between imagined insanity and actual horror. As a result, certain events and locations can cause Jess to panic and then just run away until things calm down. In fact, it’s not entirely clear until the very end whether it was all in her head or in reality, and that uncertainty is the story’s greatest strength. It exists from the start and raises big questions.

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Tyler, the leader of the group, feels like he’s only playing a supporting role. Here he appears briefly and withdraws immediately.

But remember Maya, from whom you don’t hear anything for a long time, except that she cooks for the group and needs herbs for it. You meet her again later and suddenly she’s talking about what’s bothering her – only to hallucinate about it immediately afterwards and thus introduce the next chapter with her as the central character. Is it really just that functional? You can feel very clearly that characters only serve to establish a playful necessity. The few film scenes and a handful of multiple-choice dialogue do little to engage them as characters in their own right.

It doesn’t always have to be The Last of Us. Tangible characters and their actions as well as credible conversations and comprehensible developments are important to me – especially in a game that wants to be half “character and story-based narrative”. But from this point of view of all things, The Chant is nothing more than a flat B-movie.

Annoyingly, this continues in the game itself, where you discover large posters of all the creatures that will appear next. Great: So the last piece of tension is almost willfully destroyed. It’s not worth mentioning beforehand, because the opponents rarely appear surprisingly and the fighting isn’t particularly exciting. To do this, they unwind a far too monotonous program of a few, mostly predictable attacks.

By the way, there are almost no puzzles in The Chant. Keys or key parts are obtained by scouring all available paths. It’s only when you miss a part like this that the search sometimes takes longer than it should.

Symptomatic of this superficial challenge is a character that occasionally chases after Jess, but is so easy to dodge that at one point I didn’t really care and ran right past her, only to briefly press the dodge button to press. That can’t really be the case in a horror adventure.

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The funny thing is that the combat system is actually quite complex – complex enough in theory to justify a careful introduction to the various elements. But there’s not even time for that here, so it takes a pretty quick start to get your head around a variety of herbs that serve as resources to craft, well, weapons while also healing Jess’s mind, psyche, and body. The spirit can also heal the psyche and serves as an energy source for special attacks. In addition to throwing salt and a certain oil at enemies to stop or damage them, they can also be used as traps on the ground.

Someone explain to me why you fight creatures from another world with sage and thorn branches? Even if you only imagine them, you don’t think of a dowel made of tea or scrub as a “cruel weapon”.

Apart from that, there is colorful fog on the island (in a horror game…) where Jess constantly loses psychic energy and as mentioned can panic. So there you always have to keep an eye on their condition in order to heal them if necessary. And if you then fight against creatures that not only affect you physically, but also with psychological attacks, for which there is a separate counter, then of course it is playfully interesting, but especially in the first few meters it is simply an idea too many.

Two things bother me about it. For one thing, the fog isn’t something that organically fits into the environment or even emerges from the gameplay. There are just red, blue, yellow and green fields of haze, which are separated from the rest of the environment by hard transitions and therefore fit into the picture very badly. On the other hand, you don’t need the martial complexity at all against the simple-minded opponents.

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Unfortunately, there are no smooth transitions from the normal state to mentally tense situations. Jess just walks in in colored fog and has to be careful not to panic there.

You can even develop Jess’ abilities in three stages at a time, so that you can initiate slow motion if you dodge at the right moment, or disable the creatures for a few seconds if you counter in time. only for what? Don’t get me wrong: I found the character development quite motivating. Ultimately, however, it didn’t make a noticeable difference.

Review of The Chant – conclusion:

So Brass Token brings a few good ideas to the game, and what you have to give The Chant: Despite its weaknesses, it’s not a bulky adventure. As mundane as the combat against the creatures is, it feels satisfying to push them back because the combat system is inherently smart, unlike the AI. And if the music sounds like a 50-year-old Carpenter film in some situations, then the horror trip even scores with its atmosphere. But such moments are rare. Most of the time, on the other hand, you are looking for a playful challenge and thus a depth that is unfortunately only touched upon in the narrative of the bumpy B-movie.

The Chant – Rating: 5/10

Pros and cons


  • Interesting hook around real or imagined horror
  • At times an atmospheric electro soundtrack borrowed from John Carpenter
  • Somewhat motivating character development
  • Relatively complex combat system…


  • … that you don’t have to exhaust at all
  • The same goes for character development
  • All in all, a disappointing, low-tension horror trip
  • Scarcely told plot and characters without real depth
  • Stubbornly cutting off all paths – no riddles, no secrets worth mentioning
  • Colorful danger zones as mood killers
  • Current target occasionally hard to find