The Chant Review – A Valiant Attempt (PS5)

The first thing that struck me while playing through Singing for this review, was how ambitious this thing was for a game developed by an independent studio. I feel like that last sentence; “for a game developed by an indie studio”, is going to be repeated throughout this review and pretty much sums up my general thoughts on Singing.

Singing is a perfectly palatable experience with some interesting ideas, but its technical shortcomings hamper the creative goals it strives to achieve to the point of distracting from the ambitious ingenuity present in the game.

That being said, the ambition displayed here is commendable. Brass Token swung for the fences with its first title and those big swings translate into some of the best moments in the game. Singing isn’t the most polished experience I’ve had with a game in 2022, despite taking place in one of the most unique settings I’ve ever seen in a game.

Singing is out now and is available on PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC.

The presentation in Singing is ambitious, even if it feels a little raw and rough around the edges. The character models look like they were taken from a PS3 game from a decade ago. The animations also seem somewhat stiff and clunky. This subpar level of animation and graphics quality clashes with the cool art direction of the game. This conflict results in some interesting visual moments, but also illustrates the overambitious nature of this game.

Decent water effects combined with in-game lighting can sometimes lead to visually appealing moments like this.
Decent water effects combined with in-game lighting can sometimes lead to visually appealing moments like this.

That said, the environment makes it an interesting place to host a match. The Wellness Retreat setting immediately conjures up things like Midsommar and The wicker man. Unfortunately, this game isn’t as scary as the original Wicker Mannor as endearing as the remake with Nicolas Cage.

In fact, for a game that bills itself as a horror game, I don’t recall getting any real scares while playing it. Singing. While watching the trailer for this title, I was somewhat reminded The Dark Pictures Anthology by Supermassive Games. Unfortunately, the tone and atmosphere in Singing is nowhere near as eerie or ominous as the palpably hectic atmosphere felt in a Supermassive title.

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While the voice acting is passable across the board, the cast of characters were written as some of the most obnoxious, whiny hippies you could imagine for some odd reason. I was never to identify with any of the characters in the game on a personal level, and I never felt any danger when they were in danger. If anything, I looked forward to them dying just so I wouldn’t have to suffer hearing them spout more of their pretentious nonsense.

This extends to the main character, Jess Briars. She is also very into the “woe is me” mentality and her attitude is immediately off-putting. Jess isn’t the brightest of protagonists either. On her first day at this “wellness retreat” (which sounds like something out of Jared Leto’s wet dream), she acknowledges that this whole setup “feels cult.”

Jess is the queen of red flag ignorance.
Jess is the queen of red flag ignorance.

However, she never does anything about it and just goes along with the program until things start to go wrong very quickly. And I mean VERY quickly. It’s one of the most defining elements of the game. No sooner do we learn everyone’s name in the camp than things start to get crazy and the residents start trying to kill each other. A few cast members only get a few lines before they scream at the top of their voices, seemingly possessed by a demonic entity.

It really feels like everything is fine until Jess shows up at camp and then it all suddenly went to hell in a hand basket within hours. While I’m sure it would have been pretty boring to spend the first few hours of gameplay meditating and drinking herbal tea, something could have been done to better ease the audience into the ensuing madness for change. of tone feels less discordant.

The game in Singing is another area where it doesn’t feel like a premium experience. The main thing that Singing wants the player to focus during gameplay are three exhaustion meters named Mind, Body, and Soul respectively. These counters turn out to be little more than minor inconveniences when playing the game.

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While it may seem that managing these counters can lead to intense resource management while participating in combat and puzzle solving, it really only comes down to collecting highlighted items in the environment to keep those meters full and avoid dark and physical areas. attack as much as possible.

Although combat does not seem to be a priority for the developers of Singingthat doesn’t excuse how extremely limited and simple the controls and combat options are in the game. are adequate enough to fend off any type of enemy in the game. It all feels very superficial.

Swing, swing, dodge is about the only button combination players need to memorize in order to master The Chant's lackluster combat system.
Swing, swing, dodge is about the only button combination players need to memorize in order to master The Chant’s lackluster combat system.

Singing is by no means a difficult game. The combat is not only unsatisfying and boring, it is also extremely easy, even on the hardest difficulties. The only slightly challenging gameplay moments are the puzzles and boss fights that the game features, but even then some trial and error is enough to get you to the next level. Once Jess’ psychic abilities manifest seemingly out of nowhere, things get ridiculously easy to the point that going through the fighting moves seems numbing.

One of the highlights of the game is the enemy design in Singing. While you could easily dispatch one of them with enough well-timed dodges and a few hits with a sage staff, at least their design is cool. The somewhat disturbing monster design of the enemies is the only remotely scary thing Singing. One of the most memorable creature designs is reminiscent of the Demogorgon from stranger things.

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Speaking of the popular Netflix series, there’s an element of Singing which is strongly reminiscent of the Upside Down of this show. Certain areas of the game include force fields that drain your “Spirit” meter as you explore them. Entering these areas feels like a dimension jump in the style of stranger things.

All in all play through Singing is a bit like watching a child try to run before they have learned to walk. While I admire and appreciate Brass Token’s ambition to create an original IP address in a single location, it’s just a shame they couldn’t do it in a smoother way. That being said, there is a base of interesting ideas here and I can’t wait to see what Brass Token has up its sleeve for its next project.

Singing was reviewed on PS5 with a code provided by PLAION.

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