Live from NeoGAF, it's Friday Night!
Although the game was covered on GAF i never saw it and randomly stumbled across a trailer for Chorus a week before its release that got me pretty excited. After that i watched a single preview that mentioned all the right words and i was sold on the game. Today i obtained the platinum trophy for it on PS5 and now i want to share my experience with you. Given its price tag of 39,99$ / 39,99€ there isn't a lot you can do wrong and in fact the game does so many things right that it feels like a bargain to me after finishing the game.
...the game was developed by Deep Silver Fishlabs / Dambuster and is an arcade space shooter where you navigate through space carried by the naration of yourself and others that will bring you from set piece to set piece where you have to fight your way through. Chorus is not a reinvention of the wheel in terms of its mechanics or story but it features a solid foundation in every aspect together with a stellar presentation. It harkens back to the old days of games like Wing Commander, Freespace or Starlancer.
You play as Nara, a high member and desateur of the circle wich is seen as a religious cult that has grown to be too extremist for Nara. You left behind your dark past and the game starts with you working for the Enclave. Shortly after the beginning your past catches up with you and it's time to take responsibility for your actions and set things right. The story is told through cutscenes that can be quite melodramatic at times but mostly through radio calls from different characters you meet along your way, conversations with your board computer Forsaken as through monolouges of your inner voice that comments on pretty much everything that happens. The narrative is pretty straight forward and doesn't feature any groundbreaking revelations or mind bending twists but does a good job of getting you attached to Nara's motives and her decisions throughout the game. I found it quite entertaining and it gave me a good backdrop to play through the game.
The game provides a mixture of investigations a la The Witcher 3 where you use your senses by pressing X to reveal memories of the past or trails for you to follow, collecting hidden ship upgrades and credits as well as fights against others in the open space. These "dog fights" take center stage in the game and are the main draw to it. You can fly with normal speed or boost with L2 to get an advantage in fights. In addition you have a hyperdrive you can use with L3 to traverse greater distances faster but the game will lock you out of it in most battles. Mission objectives reach from investigations to collecting missing cargo, space races against others through a set course, to escort missions and gigantic space battles.
You are given a gatling gun as a main source for damage, a laser to take out the shields of enemies which would take longer with the gatling and rockets to deal with heavy armored foes. For each category you'll find better weapons throughout the game that will have more DPS, higher fire rate or shorter cooldowns and an overall different look.
In addition you have the so called Rites. These are powers Nara can unlock through the course of the story to gain the edge in battle. Examples are "Drift Trance" that will let you keep your momentum in the direction you are flying but lets you turn fast and aggressive to get a good position on the enemy. "Rite of the Hunt" will let you teleport behind an enemy or through previously impenetrable barriers. "Rite of the Storm" destroys shields instantly, can stun enemies and also wrecks special barriers. "Rite of the Star" is a way to burst through opponents or walls with high speed using your own ship as a projectile. "Rite of Control" lets you pic up rivals with the press of a button to throws them into obstacle or other adversaries. All of the Rites are tied to an energy gauge that empties on use and needs to refill over time so that you should carefully pick the right one for each situation.
Additionally you have 3 slots in your ship for modifications that can be found in the world and which will grant you advantages to pretty much every aspect be it more weapon damage, less cooldown, more Rite energie, faster shield recoverie and so on.
Further Chorus has "masteries" which strengthens your abilities in the categories combat, rites and weapons by doing things like killing a set amount of enemies in a specific way. This gives it another layer of progression.
Enemy variety is quite good and the game gradually introduces new typs bit by bit giving you an ever increasing and changing challenge. This leads to battles against small turrets or fighters to giant star cruisers that need to be picked apart piece by piece and in the end battles against entire fleets.
Chorus has 3 difficulty settings and provides a good challenge on the highest one. You can also play in permadeath from the beginning. The moment to moment gameplay is where the game really shines since it is very easy to pick up through its arcady nature. It feels incredible exhilarating to fly through tight asteroid fields or narrow ancient space temples at max speed and dodge debris, obstacles, projectiles or enemies in the last second. With a completion time of about 20 hours it also not a short game despite its budget price.
Visually it is very appealing and pleasing and seems quite polished in that regard. It features the options performance or resolution giving you the option for higher resolution with 30fps or 60fps with a lower resolution. Both are solid in their refresh rate and i haven't discovered major frame drops even in crowded situations. Load times on PS5 are between 1 or 2 seconds and other than some minor texture pop-in after the initial load here and there i haven't seen anything noteworthy. I'm not an expert so i'm not sure where the specific differences between the two modes lie.
Overall i think the presentation is striking with beautifull backgrounds in deeps space, black holes, asteroidfields, gigantic ice fields, spacestations, far of planets, varied particle effects, lightning clouds, explosions and weird "anomalies. You will find some low res textures if you look for it but this is not the norm. Sound design is also quite fitting with impactful weapon sounds, interesting environmental audio and wonderful voice acting. The soundtrack is the weakest point in my opinion. While not bad in general and having a cool main theme it sure is missing some more memorable music.
There is nothing i didn't like about the game just things i felt could be added. A cockpit view would have been nice to mix things up. While the gameplay was satisfying i felt the urge for more depth especially later on in the game. You get an overwhelming amount of modifications but you are just able to equip 3 of them at any given time. It should give them meaning but in reality you just doesn't use most of them. Better music as mentioned before.
Here are some of my favorite screenshots i took with the photo mode.
An awesome game for a fair budget that should be picked up by anyone even remotely interested in these kind of games. I hope we will get a sequel to this.
So what do you think GAF? A special sparkling space shooter or a big pile of mediocrity inside a black hole?