Chorus is a game that, to be honest, wasn’t really on my radar; apart from a brief appearance via a trailer, I hadn’t heard much about it. Now, sometimes, going into a game blind can be a blessing, as you just do not know what to expect – ready to have your socks blown clean off. And without wanting to spoil things too much, my socks are now on the other side of the room and the cat is looking at me with suspicion.
Coming from Deep Silver Fishlabs, Chorus promises to bring a massive universe to the tips of our fingers; to marry an expansive single player story with a huge game world to explore and lots of baddies to fight. But does it deliver?
The story of chorus is where we should begin and as a single player experience it is pretty vital that in this area Chorus delivers. And luckily enough, it does! We play as Nara, once The Circle’s deadliest warrior, now a fugitive from The Circle and hiding in the farthest flung reaches of space. Nara fled The Circle after committing a particularly heinous crime (no spoilers here). Sadly for Nara, The Circle have expanded enough that they are now sending ships into the region of space she calls home. And what else is there for a warrior to do but to go to war?
In her sentient starfighter – Forsaken or Forsa for short – she must try and unite the disparate bands of inhabitants to fight The Circle, otherwise they will be enslaved. This is at heart a redemption story, as Nara and Forsa fight to undo the harm they have done in the past by saving those of the present, and the scope and scale of the story is pretty breathtaking, taking in everything from the frivolous, such as races through an asteroid field, to the deadly, such as exploring old temples in order to unlock new powers for Nara. So, a big tick here for the narrative.
Now, after the story, the way Chorus looks has to be discussed, and as this is a family website, I’ll stick with “flipping marvellous”. The universe truly is your oyster in this game, and if you can see a point of interest, you can pretty much travel to it. Forsa has a nifty line in sub-light travel, allowing him to cross vast distances in the shortest of times, and when your destination can be on the other side of the playable area, it certainly comes in handy. It’s not unusual to find your destination tens of kilometres away, and zooming between the areas soon becomes second nature.
There are different areas to explore as well, and these are linked together with jump gates that allow you to teleport almost to a whole new area. The way the areas are constructed is fantastic, with lots of places to find and people to meet, along with an every changing spacescape, as asteroids drift about and obscure the view one moment, before you climb up and over (as much as you can in a zero-G environment, where such directions have no meaning), seeing a space station roll into view, a gang of pirates that need putting down, or a settler in need of help.
Soundwise the game is very good as well, and the voice work from the actors involved is particularly good; Nara and Forsa have some very interesting conversations which are worth taking in. With the different weapons all having their own unique sounds, the soundscape is awesome. All in all, presentation wise, the game is keeping the top drawer scores going.
So, the story is great, the way Chorus is presented is great, the only area left to explore is the actual gameplay. This is split, as you might imagine, into combat and not combat sections; we’ll have a look at the non-combat aspects first. As I touched on above, the area of the zones that Nara and Forsa can explore is very large, and as Nara wanders around, she will either stumble across areas that attract her attention, or people flying about the place in ships who need assistance – these will then get marked on the map for her. There are story missions, and side missions to explore, and these are clearly split in the mission log. Now, since the days of Skyrim (the first time around) I have usually taken in as many side missions as I can before pursuing the story, as having all of the gear helps in later fights. It’s no different here. Doing side missions not only nets Nara credits, which she can use to upgrade Forsa’s weapons and systems, but it can also get you new equipment, such as upgraded weapons and even new types of weapon systems. Plus, flying about the place and exploring is strangely relaxing, as the scenery is very pretty – whizzing in and out of giant lumps of rock never gets old.
However, as you’d expect, there are lots of bad guys in this part of space, and whether they be space pirates (with a disappointing lack of parrots, I have to say) or The Circle ships, there is no shortage of things to shoot.
So, that gets us on to the combat systems then; how do they hold up? Very well again is the answer, and getting jumped by a number of ships in a tight space makes for a pretty thrilling encounter.
Nara has multiple weapons at her disposal to help here – the likes of a gatling cannon, a laser gun, and a missile launcher for instance. The gatling fires rapid shots, but suffers from overheating if used for extended periods, as you’d expect. This is best suited to shooting the smaller ships down, and can struggle against the larger or shielded enemies. The laser is made for slicing through shields, but takes a moment to fire, so leading your target becomes much more important than with the gatling, as you need the target to be in the sights when the laser fires. The missile launcher is even slower firing, and is much more suited to large or slow targets, but makes up for its limitations with power. Taking the weapon of your choice is very much a part of what makes Chorus tick.
Another aspect of combat is Nara and the Rites that she can master, giving her an edge in fighting and also in certain exploration settings. Rites include the power to highlight objects of interest, either in the proximity or throughout the sector, the ability to teleport behind enemy ships and shoot them a lot, and many more. These Rites can help turn the tide of battle when used in the right place, and at the right time. Forsa isn’t left out of the powers party either, and his drift ability can help with dealing with fast moving targets. All in all, combat is very well handled.
Are there any downsides to the experience? Well, after a while, it does start to feel a bit samey, with the missions being variations on “fly here, shoot things”. Other than that, the overwhelming majority of Chorus is hugely enjoyable. It’s a vast game, one that is fast and furious with a story that keeps pulling you along.
If you like space adventures, Chorus is an easy sell. But even if you don’t, it’s well worth giving it a try.
Chorus is available to purchase from the Xbox Store