Developer: Deep Silver Fishlabs
Release Date: December 3, 2021
Reviewed On: PS5
Publisher: Deep Silver
Genre: Space shooter
I’m always looking for the next big space shooter, and I’m glad to have found that with the Fishlabs-developed Chorus. On the surface, this could seem like an average adventure game left to obscurity. However, after only my first hour, it’s easy to see that this is a product of dedication and love that offers much more than I expected.
Chorus is more than a space shooter as it revolves its many gameplay elements around the story. Both aspects evolve together through the game’s runtime, creating a connection with the player while not overwhelming them with too much at once. Players take control of Nara, a pilot with a past that she isn’t proud of. This isn’t glossed over, and she’s constantly fighting against her past demons, which once led her to do terrible things.
When it got too much for Nara to take, she decided to run from her group known as the Circle. In this group, she piloted a powerful AI ship named Foresaken, and the two were killing machines. However, to escape it all meant she had to abandon Foresaken in a hidden location and make a run for it. After scavenging and taking up odd jobs for years, the resistance enlisted her help, but to take on the circle, she’d need to gain the trust of those around her and regain the confidence of Foresaken.
The narrative is much deeper than it has any right to be. The main questlines don’t feature lengthy flashbacks or filler, and we’re left with a genuinely engaging story of this pilot and her struggles. The relationship between Nara and Foresaken is also expanded upon as we learn more about their past and future plans. This extends to the supporting cast as well, but I never felt too attached to the enemy factions as your main goal is to destroy the leader of the Circle, the Great Prophet. That said, a few antagonists get some screentime, but not enough to care about them.
Throughout the story, Nara will take on main missions assigned to her. She also has a power where she can sense objects and places of interest around her. This comes in handy when trying to find hidden items or make your way to an optional mission. The main missions are focused but are mixed up enough to not mainly be dogfights in space. Players will have several tasks to take on at their own pace to progress the narrative, but with the semi-open world design, there’s plenty of ways to distract the player from completing missions.
Side-missions are incredible. While some simply have you protect a ship or fight, others have deep story narratives and branching mission objectives. As a result, they become rather engaging and offer significant worldbuilding that you may miss if you’re playing only the primary missions. Even in the later hours of the campaign, I still made time to complete side-missions and had a hell of a time doing it.
Players also have agency over questlines as they can make choices during missions that may affect later encounters. For example, enlisting the help of a pirate could benefit you in a future encounter, but there may come a time when you should trust the word of a stranger. It’s an interesting feature and expands on player engagement.
Controls in space take some getting used to. On a controller, the left stick handles your speed, and the right stick controls your direction. These controls are tight and responsive, which makes general combat so much fun. Weaving around asteroids and dodge rolling to avoid damage makes every encounter a rush. In addition, the ship has access to three gun types that are switched between on the d-pad. Enemies are weak to a specific gun type, so it’s necessary to adjust on the fly.
Enemy types are vast and differ depending on which faction you are fighting against. While most of the fights are against grunts, there are some rather intense encounters with huge enemy ships and boss-type enemies that will launch mines, fire lasers, or have a unique buff that makes the encounter notable. I never grew tired of the encounters as the controls and gameplay felt so smooth and almost cinematic.
As the combat grows tougher, Nara unlocks new Rites. These abilities allow her to become an absolute powerhouse in a battle. While they make early encounters easier, they are especially needed for late-game encounters that pull no punches. This can be a challenging game if you’re one to take things slowly. There’s an option for permadeath too, but I couldn’t take the stress of playing that mode.
Graphically, the gameplay portions are beautiful. The character models are a little awkward, but this is a space shooter. Environments are gorgeous and provide some really cool places to explore. Further, the explosions and overall design of the gunfights are some of the best that I’ve experienced to date. Sound design is also of note as the voice-over is excellent for the most part. Just be prepared to hear Nara talking to herself a lot.
The biggest downside of the experience is direction. Some missions are unnecessarily long because I just couldn’t figure out what to do next. Of course, this isn’t true for a majority of quests as there are hints and descriptions, but I’ll admit they aren’t always informative about the next task.
Chorus is a surprise December release that deserves acknowledgment for its space shooter systems and memorable narrative. It will have you exploring the vast reaches of space as you follow quest leads and take out the galaxy’s strongest enemies for hours on end. There’s a synergy and balance between the story, controls, and gameplay that make this a genuinely standout space adventure perfect for any fans of the genre.
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