Chorus: the end of a verse. Chorus is the part of a song that loops the most and is remembered the most. Chorus is harmonious. Chorus is the melody. Chorus is the end. That’s Chorus in the musical sense, but we here like to talk about video games. “Chorus,” the game stylized as “Chorus,” came to us from Fishlabs, an internal studio of Deep Silver. If you really think about it, this game is sort of an underdog. A new IP in a very niche genre by a new studio. It was announced and came out of nowhere, but is it any good? That’s what we are here to find out, so let’s get started with this journey.
“Chorus” is a third-person, science-fiction, open-world spaceship combat game. That’s a mouthful, I know, and I don’t think I can describe it any better. Despite the generic description, this game is much more. It features a really good story with memorable characters—the main ones—and surprisingly incredible voice work. It comes with refined and very fun-to-play gameplay. It features cutting-edge visuals and very stable performance across the board. It’s a game that doesn’t look like much, but once you start playing it, you can’t get enough and will refuse to put the controller down. That’s “Chorus,” a game with so much heart and expertise behind it that every generic and overused trope somehow feels fresh here. It is not perfect. But it delivers a much needed and overlooked niche in the market that not many developers and studios try to fill. Sure, there are tons of space games out there, and a lot more are on the way, but this one stands out among all of them. It’s a perfect blend between action, story, and exploration, with next to no RPG elements that most games deviate towards. And if you think that’s not accurate, then name me one game that came out in recent years that’s like “Chorus.” Let’s take a look at different aspects of the game one by one and see what makes “Chorus” worth playing.
The plot begins with our main character, Nara, sometimes referred to as Naran, a high-ranking member of a religious space cult called the Circle, destroying an entire planet by channeling her hatred. She does this using her bond with her ship, Forsa, which is a sentient ship and one of the most powerful vessels to ever exist. Look, this is some heavy-handed stuff, I know, but in the context of this game, it works. We learn that it was a flashback, and Nara is now hiding within the galaxy, burdened by the guilt of what she did, and has taken countless lives in the name of a zealot. She is doing odd jobs to help people out and is endlessly haunted by her conscience. After doing her job and returning back to the base, the base is attacked by weird entities known as the Faceless, part of the cult. Nara heroically fends them off and leaves without saying much to look for her old friend she abandoned, Forsa. She returns to the location where she hid him, and after dealing with more cult members, she is reunited with Forsaken. The reunion isn’t exactly with open arms, as Forsaken is really mad at Nara for abandoning him and now wishes to end the cult. An uneasy alliance is built, and the hunt begins. This is where the game truly opens.
I know what you’re thinking hatred destroying planets and talking ships doesn’t exactly sound very interesting but trust me, the plot of this game is really good. There is tons of lore to back up the game’s mythos, and the story here isn’t half bad. It’s cliched at points but is a fun and interesting romp from beginning to end. The side characters don’t get as much development and screen time as Nara and Forsa, but these two carry this game on their own. The main villain is also very forgettable, but a take on a spacefaring religious cult is a very interesting idea, isn’t it? I also want to take a minute to talk about Forsaken. Everything about this ship, from its design to the fact that it is sentient, is just incredible. His voice and ruthless, cutthroat demeanor are just the cherries on top. I never thought a character that isn’t even human, or humanoid could have so much depth, and yet Forsa’s personality puts a lot of other video game characters to shame. I’ll say this again before I move past this section: the story here is interesting and well done, and the more it progresses, the more it hooks you. I’ll leave the rest for you to discover.
“Chorus” focuses on dogfights between spaceships and traveling across the galaxy at sub-light speeds. It excels in both departments, but its combat is perhaps its strongest suit and one of the best-implemented dogfighting control schemes I have seen in any game of this kind. On the surface, it’s typical to fly your ship in circles to get behind your enemies and shoot them all while avoiding their attacks. It’s a lot deeper than that. Here, you have three weapon types that you can switch between on the fly, a Gatling gun, a laser, and a missile launcher. These weapons gradually unlock, and you can buy better versions of them from settlements or unlock them by doing side missions. The weapons have specific uses, too. The Gatling gun will shred through non-shielded enemies, while the lasers will destroy shields in no time, and the rocket launcher will do a number on armored units. There’s no need to worry about the ammo, and during intense battles, it becomes all about switching to the right weapons to deal with the right enemies quickly and precisely.
The weapons aren’t everything here, as you have special powers called Rites. There are five of them, and they unlock over the course of the game. Take Rite of the Hunt, for instance; it instantly teleports you behind the enemy ship in your sights so you can deal a devastating blow to them. Or the Rite of Storm, which sends a lightning bolt that disrupts the ship it hits and leaves it stunned and motionless for a few seconds. As I said, there are five of them, and their usability is impressive and opens a ton of options when it comes to your gameplay experience. There’s a bar that depletes every time you use a Rite but don’t worry, it charges back up really quickly and can also be overcharged if you spam your Rites. This is a unique addition exclusive to “Chorus,” and it’s just plain awesome in its usability, the options it provides, and the doors it opens. Your guns, in combination with your Rites, make Nara and Forsa a force of nature, wrecking everything and everyone in their path.
The enemies themselves are varied enough to keep you engaged and on your toes. There are your basic units, but then you have ships that teleport just like you or ships that have nanobots following them that constantly heal them. Then you also have giant ships that you fly inside and destroy their cores for a massive explosion or ships that constantly spew space mines out while keeping their distance and protecting themselves with a shield. That’s the force the Circle sends at you; the enemy units you face while fighting the Faceless are completely different and are oftentimes creepy. They also have their own unique appearance, which is kind of cool looking. Then you have boss battles; there aren’t many of them, but they are fun and unique, and I am leaving them for you to discover. The enemy variety and numbers are also fair, with the game throwing a huge number of enemies at you at times but nothing that you can’t handle. The battles can get very chaotic due to sheer numbers, but they are always fun.
Other than combat, you’ll be exploring the different areas on the map, each of which is gorgeous and has a few collectibles hidden around it, alongside money and roaming enemies you can fight. You can also find and complete side missions here that are nothing to write home about but are fun distractions regardless. The coolest part is that Forsa, your ship, can drift in space. Yes, you heard that right, you can drift in space in this game, and that opens up traversals even more and makes it so fast with the ability to cut corners or do full 180s in a moment’s notice. This is another feature that I have never seen in any game of this kind and another reason why Forsa is just awesome.
The gameplay on offer here is simple for the most part and incredibly fun, and once you learn to use and master all your Rites and guns in tandem, it just becomes a beautiful ballet of bullets and explosions.
Not much to discuss here as the worlds are divided into hubs instead of being one giant map, but then again, it’s space, so everything is pretty massive as is. You’ll be inside the rings of a gas giant on one map, while you’ll be flying across an outpost or city in space on the other. There is tons of variety here, both visually and in terms of exploitability and density. Each area is unique and gorgeous in its own right, and the distances you travel here feel as vast as they should. The worlds here are a treat for your eyes, and they serve their purpose, and that’s all I can say about them.
The Technical Stuff
My experience with the Xbox Series X was solid throughout. There were no crashes, bugs, or glitches, and no performance issues either. There is a 4K mode, a ray tracing mode, and a performance 60 fps mode for you to choose between, and I spent my time shifting between the ray tracing mode and the 60-fps mode. I highly recommend playing this game at 60 fps; the combat comes to life even more there, thanks to how smoothly the game runs. I loved the music and the voice acting here as well. Every character read their lines earnestly, but Nara and Forsa single-handedly carried the game when it came to performance. The music, on the other hand, is part operatic and part electronic, and it just works. The cutscenes, though beautiful, were the only place where I noticed pop-in, but everything else here is just impressive. All of this, coming from a new studio is quite unexpected and brilliantly done so their efforts here are very commendable. Technically, the game is solid.
I think it’s pretty obvious that I liked this game, isn’t it? It’s not a full-price game; it tried doing something new in a niche genre, it delivered amazing visuals and a good story, and it did all of that while being very sound technically. What’s not to like about it? The game is not perfect; nothing is, but it’s a jolly good time. It doesn’t matter if you are a science fiction fan, a space fan, an action game fan, or none of those for that matter, “Chorus” has something to offer to just about everyone. It’s a game that isn’t marred by traditional video game industry standards and practices, and it sticks to its vision and delivers it confidently. While looking at its previews, I thought this game looked cool, but after playing it, I feel like it’s much more than just cool. It’s unique; it’s crazy in all the right ways; it’s focused; it’s very confident. That’s “Chorus,” and it’s a solid recommendation from me. It’s a short journey that you’ll enjoy, and while it won’t live in your mind rent-free like some other games do, you’ll always have fond memories of the time you spent playing this game.