The singing is a weird b-horror movie of a game that draws inspiration from the usual sources like silent Hill And resident Evil but in a much more isolated environment. plunge into supernatural horror, The singing invites you into a spiritistic cult with a secret and violent past that mixes themes Lost with the Lovecraftian myth.
Assuming the role of Jess, you quickly find yourself on an island retreat where you’re taking some much-needed spiritual time. She has good reason to seek inner peace as she is still shattered by the accidental death of her younger sister years ago. Of course, that’s not the case, as the barefoot, spiked-tea-dusted oasis quickly descends into a terrified emotional horror.
The island locale is simply the best part The singing. You will explore sandy beaches, forest and mountain trails, beautiful views, underground caves and mines, as well as various buildings and gloomy places. The landscape is beautiful. There is plenty of vibrant color and detailed flora, and there is a stark visual contrast between the normal world realms and the oppressive, supernaturally infected realms known as the Gloom.
The overall ambient soundtrack is surprisingly good too, with powerful sound effects and generally high-quality voice acting. The character models themselves don’t fare quite as well, with animations and expressions often jerky and stilted. Combat animations are particularly erratic, with clumsy dodges and attacks.
The singing tries to focus on the psychological effects of horror with its main character, which is reflected in its core game mechanics. Jess has three stats to maintain: mind, body, and spirit. Your mind is usually the state you need to pay the most attention to; anything stressful lowers it, putting Jess at risk of debilitating panic attacks. For example, she’s afraid of the dark, so you’ll need to find ways to light up passages, and going into the dark also gnaws at her sanity, so lingering in those rooms is never a good idea.
Of course, the fight also freaks Jess out, which makes a lot of sense. Their body rating correlates to hit points, and spirit rating governs the use of certain special magics and items (in addition to replenishing their spirit energy through meditation). However, the combat itself is a real mix. Jess has no natural or standard weapons of her own. She can literally only smack and shove at bad things, which doesn’t help much. Weapons can be found or crafted, but they tend to be relatively harmless — burning clumps of sage and other herbal mixtures plus fire.
It honestly doesn’t make much sense; for a game where you play as a traumatized young woman, The singing loves throwing Jess into battle against mutant cultists, giant acid-spitting bug-things, toads, killer flowers, and other vaguely Lovecraftian nightmares with next to nothing to protect themselves. Combat ultimately boils down to clumsily beating a monster until it either dies, your weapon breaks, or you die. Similar to ammo inside resident Evil, The singing is incredibly stingy when it comes to handing out needed herbal ingredients.
This may not be as great a source of frustration as it is The singing had a semblance of stealth gameplay. Trying to avoid violent fights with monsters would make sense after all, but that’s not an option here. The game rarely leaves you with a choice but to plow forward, swing, and dodge to get to the next area. Melee mechanics are either short or long presses on the shoulder button and not complex at all. You hit a monster, dodge when it tries to hit, hit it again, etc.
Jess will find salt and other objects to throw or even place on the ground as traps to slow or injure enemies, and she will gain new spiritual abilities as she collects the colored crystals that everyone on the island carries . These can damage enemies, slow them down, freeze them, and do other useful things, but they drain energy that can generally only be replenished by finding certain ingredients scattered around the island.
When you’re not mindlessly punching and shoving monsters, you’re usually wandering around looking for ingredients, key pieces, letters, rolls of film, and other things that will either fill out the story or open up new areas for you. Other times, you’ll be running away from a particularly annoying nasty thing that’ll follow Jess around the map while you yell accusingly at her. It’s an interesting element that adds to the tension while trying to articulate the themes of grief and loss.
The Chant Review – The Bottom Line
- The location on the island in general is very beautiful and detailed
- Solid voice output, great atmospheric sound
- Decent story with traumatic themes
- Combat is very clumsy and simple
- No stealth at all
- Slightly choppy animation and character work
- Annoyingly tight on supplies
The singing is by no means a great game, and there are many sketchy aspects to it. Combat is iffy and clumsy, and fetch quests abound. Still, thanks to a solid story and lush environments, The Chant is mostly enjoyable.
[Note: Prime Matter provided the copy of The Chant used for this review.]