Chorus is a third-person space combat game sporting everything you’d expect from an interstellar romp – supernatural powers, talking star-ships and a genocidal space cult hell-bent on destroying the universe.
Still following? Good.
After literally destroying an entire planet at the behest of the Circle, top-pilot Nara goes into hiding. Several years later, you take control of Nara and her sentient starfighter, Forsaken, in a quest to destroy the cult that made her into a lean, mean, ethnic-cleansing machine.
It’s mightily refreshing to play a space game (that phrase sounds dumb but we’ll roll with it) that handles well. Controlling your ship in Chorus simple and responsive. To accelerate, you push the left stick forward and change direction with the right. Holding L2 will give you a welcome speed boost and a click of R3 sends you into sub-light speed. Movement is not only incredibly fluid and responsive, but you can feel the purr of your jet engines as they pierce the heavens thanks to some nifty DualSense implementation.
Gameplay is largely centred around exploring the open world, connecting with Resistance outposts and assisting them in their fight against the Circle. There are a few side quests here and there that add a touch of colour to the story, but the real meat on this big old space-bone is the combat.
Okay, cards on the table, I was thoroughly expecting to run into several issues that seem common among space combat games. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I was wrong.
To begin with, you’ll be doing a lot of chasing a UI marker around the screen in a frantic attempt to locate your enemy. Sound familiar? Chorus cleverly fixes this with the Rites mechanic. Rites are Nara’s supernatural abilities that she can call upon during a fight. The first ability you gain is the Rite of the Hunter, which, when you activate it, warps you right in front of your enemy’s derrière, all ready for a good whooping. Gunplay is solid and equally satisfying. From the sturdy thud of your Gatling Gun to the joyous pew-pew of your laser, you feel the impact of each bullet tearing a new one in your enemy’s hull.
Despite the stellar combat, Chorus can get fairly repetitive. Side quests add a little variation but the bulk of what you’ll be doing is battling enemies, destroying a mega-weapon and escorting ships to safety. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun swaggering around space and beating up the bad guys, but some of the more inspired quests are the result of variation in gameplay. For example, early on in the game, you’ll need to try and take down a huge enemy tanker ship. There’s a minute on the clock so you have no choice but to speed towards it, dodging turrets and weaving through lasers, until you squeeze through a tiny opening in the hull and blast the core to smithereens. This is some real Stars Wars shit.
Away from all the chaos of interstellar warfare, you can take your time to dock in one of the many Outpost hubs and have a good old tinker with your ship. Here, you can purchase various upgrades for your shield, hull, or even buy a new weapon using credits that you earn. Your ship also has several modification slots that you can kit out with mods. These can be found when exploring the world and essentially add buffs to the ship; the rarer types giving your stats a good beefing up.
Whilst changing up your ship’s loadout is fun, it didn’t feel completely essential and I could get through a lot of the main story without thinking about fine-tuning the engine. Still, for the minmaxers out there, it’s a welcome addition and an opportunity to squeeze a little bit more juice out of your whip.
Lore and Order
My biggest problem with Chorus is the story. The game suffers from the same issues as Jett: The Far Shore – the writing is clinical, humourless and completely bogged down by heavy lore dumps. This makes it really difficult to empathise with Nara or care that much about the fate of the Resistance. Having your protagonist commit mass-murder on a planetary scale at the start of your story is a bold move. And even though Nara’s journey is ultimately about redemption, it’s quite hard to stomach the thought of redeeming the irredeemable.
Okay, come on Joe, this isn’t a book, we’re not nerds – stop over-analysing stuff! I hear you. For some people, high-octane combat is enough to make a game great. I get that. But Chorus could be something really special if it gave a little more thought to the story.
Star of the Show
I’ll cut to it – Chorus looks stunning. Textures are crisp, colours pop in bright neon against the deep black of space – a testament to the well-implemented HDR. It’s a joy to weave through the shadows of giant asteroids against the backdrop of glowing nebulae and stars. The UI can be a little unclear at times, particularly when tracking your mission objectives as it’s hard to discern between quest markers and random collectables in the world.
I mainly played on the Performance setting which offers 1440p up-scaled at 60fps but you can also choose Quality at 4K 30fps. Quality gives everything an extra layer of detail but I’d still highly recommend playing on Performance mode. Even 60fps up-scaled looks damn good and to be honest, 30fps saps a lot of the fluidity from your ship’s movement.
Chorus is a satisfying, adrenaline-fuelled space combat shooter with innovative gameplay mechanics that cleverly overcome a lot of common problems associated with the genre. It’s a real shame then that it’s held back by a sluggish, uninteresting story that makes space exploration feel tedious. If you’re just after a bit of top-notch pew-pew though, this is the droid you’re looking for.