Platform(s): PC (version played), PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Space sim like Wing Commander & Freelancer, without the trading
Chorus’ destroy all evil space cult baddies and space horrors storyline is just window-dressing for its true appeal: the ability to pilot a kick-ass spaceship and destroy all manner of armada with your powers. You’re in the space shoes of ex-cult elite killer Nara, who has buried her previous way of religious zealotry to help survivors in this hub called the Enclave.
Just like most giant video game villain groups, the space cult wants to expand its reach and brainwash people, as well as summon giant red space horror portals for some reason. So together with your ship and its AI Forsa(ken), you kick a lot of space booty with your awesome ex-cult superpowered spaceship.
Nara’s special ship and powers (called Rites) allow her to “drift”, taking sharp corners and pivoting instantaneously to take down enemies in space dogfights. She can also teleport behind pursued spacecraft to close the gap quick, and also take down an enemy’s shield with special lightning. Later on, she can do a super-fast thrust that damages and kills anything in front of her. This is in addition to her already packed arsenal featuring a gatling gun, missiles, and laser cannons to deal with armoured and shielded enemies.
I’ll say this: if Nara and her ship were to take lead in Star Wars Episode IV’s Death Star battle, the Rebels would have won the entire war in just one movie.
It’s powerful, it’s fast, it has awesome space magic skills, and it’s a blast to control Whether you’re using keyboard + mouse, a joypad, or even a flight stick, you’ll be speeding and drifting while blasting enemies to kingdom come in no time flat after the obligatory hour or so of beginner flying and shooting courses disguised as missions.
The scifi world of Chorus is basically a bunch of space stations and cities all built onto rock and debris, with an ice planet or two. They look different from each other and do offer plenty of nice vistas and space imagery -the game has a Photo Mode for opportunities like these. Each of these systems play and feel about the same: they offer a number of sidequests and short missions for you to farm credits and get sweet loot for. Your spaceship can be outfitted with new guns and up to three mods, not to mention the standard hit points and shield upgrades (done in tiers).
The cool part about the mods and equipment system is the perks. Some of these items have special icons that let you gain a pretty beneficial passive perk if you have three or four items with the same icons. These include getting extra space magic energy if you kill an enemy you teleported behind, to even having your minigun overheat less than usual as long as you chain kills. It’s not in-depth, but it’s enough to get you through most of the swarms and enemies. It doesn’t need to be needlessly complex to be fun; it makes me more proactive in completing sidequests strewn all around the galaxy just to get the laser pew pews and shield mods I would want to outfit my space harbinger of doom.
The Rite Stuff
Despite Chorus offering the thrills of space combat, and it does in wide open spaces, it also throws a few curveballs at you. Sometimes you’ll fight enemies in tight spaces where you really need to be careful where you bump into while you’re flying. At times, you’ll fight a boss with obtuse mechanics that insta-kill you if you don’t pick up on their pattern and methods quick. I have died a huge number of times from these fights because the game doesn’t seem to telegraph some of these skills and boss attacks well. It sure as heck can get frustrating and tiresome, even with the generous checkpoint system.
Also, in the second half of the game, the game’s story seem to like having Nara and her spaceship essence Forsa speaking like those married couples who complete each other’s sentences. It’s cute at first, but it gets grating after the 30th time they do it while in a life-or-death space combat situation.
In spite of these quirks, I still had a blast with Chorus. It’s been eons since I’ve played a good arcade-style space sim title, and Chorus scratches that itch while also dishing out a decent narrative that doesn’t get in the way of all the shooting, flying, and exploration. I dig how the ship controls and plays, and the game throws some curveballs that do challenge me so that it doesn’t get too easy. And if you feel ballsy, there’s permadeath mode once you get the hang of things in your first 12-hour playthrough.
Chorus aims for the stars, and blasts it sky-high. Just mind some space turbulence like cheap boss fights and that annoying back-and-forth between the pilot and her ship AI.
- Great space sim combat with nice open-world exploration bits.
- Good well-paced narrative, mostly.
- Ship powers & customization is solid and fun.
- Space-drifting and blinking with space magic doesn’t get old!
- A few terribly-designed boss battles and setpiece fights.
- Nara & Forsa off-cuff dialogue can get grating.