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Chorus Review

I know, I know BrendawnoftheDead is the first-person shooter guy. They are my favorite and always have been, but they are not the only games I play. I enjoy RPG’s, platforming games, adventure games, kart racers, and flying games. Chorus is an arcade style third-person space combat game that is well worth your time. At a price tag of forty bucks, it is well worth your money too.

Chorus is a beautiful game, especially for a non “AAA” title. For the sake of transparency, I played this on a PS5 hooked up to an LG CX OLED. Space has the potential to be a pretty bland looking setting, but not here. Environments are distinct and extremely colorful. The backdrops are stunning and surprisingly detailed. Graphics are about far more than resolution, but this game offers multiple resolution modes to suit your preference. I chose to play this game in performance mode. I recommend that you play almost every game in performance mode this generation. The new consoles can run almost everything at a locked 60fps and have powerful enough GPU’s to not have to make too many visual compromises. You might not get a native 4k image, but upscaling and post processing effects have gotten so good that it is difficult to tell the difference without side-by-side screen shots. You still get all the fancy particle effects, explosions, and high quality in game assets you would expect from a game in 2022. While it is difficult to tell the difference in visuals, you can certainly notice the difference in performance. All you really need to do to notice the difference is rotate your camera. 60fps is smooth, 30fps is not. The other real benefit of high frame rates is the control responsiveness. You feel much less of a delay between your button press and your character actions. I’m happy to report that performance mode in Chorus is as smooth as butter. I’m sure there was a frame drop here and there when a lot of effects were happening simultaneously, but nothing noticeable. No hitching or stuttering, virtually zero load times, just a seamless experience.

​Story time at a high level: You are Nara, a highly skilled pilot tasked with fighting off a space cult invasion. You were once an elder of said space cult but changed sides when the leader went mad and made you destroy a planet that would not bow to the will of the cult, resulting in the deaths of billions of innocent people. To fight off the invasion, you must reunite with your old ship called Forsaken. Turns out it's alive… From here, you rediscover your old abilities that made you such a formidable death machine in your cultist days. On the way you unite enemies of the cult into a resistance to rid the galaxy of the cult scourge once and for all.

​The above paragraph is enough for me. I have my required context; an evil space cult wants to take over the galaxy. The story of Chorus does have quite a bit more to it, and most of it is done fairly well. You learn about the lore through exploration. You find memories which reveal previous events, and you experience playable flash backs. You learn more about yourself exploring space temples, where you unlock your previous skills (rites). In these temples, Nara learns to accept her repressed emotions and completes her character arc (space cult elder to hero of the galaxy). Throughout the game, you constantly hear Nara’s inner monolog. It gets a bit repetitive, but it reveals her guilt and constant sense of dread. Nara cares about the people of the galaxy, but fears that they will all fall into darkness or die horribly. The story area where Chorus stumbles is the side character and antagonist development. You learn about both primarily through exposition. This breaks the cardinal rule of visual media, never tell when you can show. People talk about how terrible the cult leader can be and his misdeeds, but you rarely experience them. The commanders of the resistance are all great leaders, just ask the other pilots, but don’t expect to witness any real acts of valor in person. In total, the story helps Chorus more than it hurts it. You can ignore it entirely and have a fun experience, or you can search the map for all the intricate lore details if you wish.

​Chorus is an open world/ hub world game. There are jump points that act as fast travel portals that connect each section of the map. Each section of the map varies in size and has a distinct visual flavor. The sections vary from a frozen comet trail, an asteroid belt with a gigantic planet as the backdrop, a space city straight out of The Expanse or Star Trek, and an old research center stuck in a lightning storm in space. All of which have secrets to find, which reveal backstory or yield resources to upgrade your shit. Chorus has the kind of open world I can tolerate, worthy of exploration but doesn’t require it. You can truly go wherever you want after the intro of the game and do the main quest at your own pace. You are rewarded for looking around, but you are never forced to do so. It’s open world design is no Breath of the Wild, Skyrim, or Horizon Zero Dawn, but it’s far better than Halo Infinite.

​Boring stuff over, fun stuff from here on out. Chorus is a space combat game and there is a lot of space combat on display. Your ship has three weapons: gatling guns, laser cannons, and missile launchers. Each weapon has its own place in Chorus’ combat puzzle. Gatling guns are fast firing hit scan weapons (meaning they instantly hit what you’re aiming at) that do major hull damage but are weak against shields. The laser cannons do heavy damage to shields and good hull damage, but your charges are limited and have a cool down upon depletion. Missile launchers do the most damage to everything, but they’re slow-moving projectiles that are easily dodged and have the longest cooldown of the three weapons. You can take down enemy ships with whichever weapon you want, but there is always an efficient path to victory if you can solve the puzzle. Enemy fighters are best taken out with gatling guns after their shield has been depleted, so take out the shield with your lasers and switch to the gatling guns for the kill. Enemy gunships have massive health pools, launch defensive mines and have heavy shields. Instead of spamming missiles, go in with the gatling guns to take out the mines, switch to lasers to break their shield, and finish them off with a prolonged rocket barrage once they’re vulnerable.

​Space fighting games often boil down to two planes flying in a circle trying to get behind each other to line up a shot unopposed. This is boring and Chorus knows it. Chorus is nice enough to give you two solutions to this problem. The first solution is the drifting mechanic. The drift allows you to rotate your ship while maintaining some momentum. Drifting also allows for tight turns and more importantly, doing a near instant 180 to line up your shot. The second solution is one of your combat abilities known as rites. One of your rites is a teleportation power. It literally teleports you directly behind the enemy you are aiming at or chasing down. This sounds overpowered, but it is balanced out by your ship's integrity. You can’t take many hits and staying in one place too long his suicide. Nara has other rites that add to the combat puzzle that you unlock throughout the game. You have a healing rite, a ship disabling lightning strike, a spear, and what is essentially a force grab and throw. You will need to use your rites in combination with your weapons to survive long in this game. Chorus is likely to throw dozens of aggressive ships at you at a time and even fully upgraded, you can’t just tank direct hits.

​Handling in Chorus works best in open space. You are extremely fast and have an unlimited boost (left trigger). The left stick is used to control your thrusters and your barrel roll (dodge). The right stick controls what you are aiming at. You have the drift mechanic for quick turning and quasi breaks. You will have to use all of these mechanics to avoid taking damage, but they are all fun to use in general traversal. What fun would a space flying game be if it weren’t fun to fly in space? The only time where it isn’t fun to fly in Chorus is in some of the temple sections. These are tight spaces requiring precise turning, which can be a bit frustrating because your momentum in space is preserved because you know, you’re flying in space not driving on a road. Thankfully, these sections are relatively short.

​Chorus is a good game. The combat is engaging, the handling is satisfying, and the story is as important as you want it to be. There is a world worth exploring and the graphics on display are an excellent showcase of modern hardware. At its core, Chorus is a game with an incredibly high skill ceiling that pushes the player to want to get better. Chorus is a tightly refined, single player experience that is a finished product on day one. It is not a product of a soulless corporatized development process with season passes, micro transactions, social spaces, and road maps to future content and bug fixes that may or may not come. The game you purchase on day one is the same game you will play if you put in the disc 10 years from now. For the reasons above and general fun factor, Chorus is an 8/10.

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