I’ve never really been a big fan of flight-based combat games, especially ones set in space, but after playing the brilliant Falconeer earlier this year, I grew very fond of the dogfighting genre. Chorus (also spelt as CHORVS) stood out for me since the first time I saw the announcement trailer a while back, a fast-paced spaceship combat game with a mysterious story and incredible visuals – I simply had to check it out! I knew I’d love the game, but I didn’t know I’d be glued to my seat as I played it non-stop until I grabbed the platinum, it was an experience more exhilarating and exciting than I could have ever imagined.
Today, the 3rd of December 2021, Chorus releases on the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, Stadia, Luna, Steam, and the Epic Games Store, offering a cross-gen license on PlayStation and Xbox Platforms. I was kindly provided with a review code on the PlayStation 5 which didn’t grant me access to the PlayStation 4 version (that’s how some PS5 review codes work), so my review will be focused on the quality and performance of the PS5 version only, yet the gameplay and mechanics will be the same on all platforms.
So, after approx 30 hours (I don’t have the exact length), which includes the main campaign and a lot of grind for the remaining trophies, just how much did I enjoy the game and why should you go and buy it right now? Let’s find out…
You are Nara, the Great Prophet’s ‘chosen one’, an elite commander of a likewise elite squad of pilots within a faction known as the Circle. You and your colleagues were known as Elders, humans who possess the ability to tap into hidden powers and abilities which lay dormant within themselves, unleashing them to create an advantage during combat against The Faceless (who also possess similar ‘gifts’). Through the guidance of your leader, you set out to eliminate the final rebellion against your cause as you aim to reunite humanity and restore peace to the war-ridden galaxy.
However, it appears the Prophet’s agenda changed, along with their personality, leading to no sacrifice being too much for the ‘greater good’. Following orders, you succumb to the darkness raging inside yourself and tear apart an entire planet, watching as billions of innocent people die. Seeing this much destruction broke your faith in the Circle and the Prophet, prompting you to turn and flee the destruction caused by your own hands/mind.
Stripped of your title and rites (the powers within you), you find refuge as a scavenger with people who know nothing about your past and don’t question where you came from. But, the past can’t stay buried forever, especially when the Circle attacks your new home. You decide it’s time to put an end to this, face your former ‘cult’ and confront the Prophet once and for all – but you can’t do this on your own. You must seek out your former ship, powered by an artificial intelligence that’s both pissed you left it in solitude for years and hell-bent on defeating the Prophet, and then unlock the powers within yourself by recovering the rites you lost upon deserting your previous life.
This is merely the beginning of your quest for revenge and retribution, you’ll travel through various systems, make new allies, unlock a number of new abilities, and engage in some of the best dogfighting combat you’ve ever experienced.
Chorus is a semi-open world space-based dogfighting action game that has you moving through various star systems via the use of ‘jump gates’, each one with a unique style, atmosphere, mood, and set of story and side-missions. Once unlocked, you’re free to go wherever you wish when you’re not undertaking the main story missions, whether you wish to explore every nook and cranny for loot and hidden missions, or simply go on a rampage and engage in numerous random encounters, there’s a lot of content tightly packed within each location.
Your ship, Forsaken (Forsa), is equipped with a scanner by default, so pushing Cross on the controller will uncover local points of interest such as treasure caches or other ships you can interact with. However, you can also hold the button down longer for a long-range scan that doesn’t show you the nearby objects but instead highlights and plots key locations further out within the area you’re exploring. This ability (Rite) also allows Nara to view echoes of the past, replaying memories of previous events which are scattered all over the place – either to guide her or help restore her own memory of things she’s forgotten.
As the game progresses, you’ll unlock more abilities, such as boosting and teleportation, as well as a few new weapon types and modifications in order to physically increase your fire-power outside of your enhanced powers. Although I only used the same weapon and minimal powers for the first few hours, I soon adapted to swapping my gun on the fly and strategising my abilities in order to overcome the much harder and frustrating enemies later on, such as the bosses.
The Rite stuff
Each Rite you find and wield greatly increases the gameplay and your ability to stay alive within the more intense battles – especially if you’re playing the game in one of the higher difficultly levels. There are six Rites to unlock in total, I won’t ruin the fun of discovering what they all do, but here are a few of the ones you get in the first few hours:
Rite of the Hunt: This Rite is fun, it allows you to instantly teleport behind the selected enemy so you can open fire on their rear in order to deliver a great deal of damage or avoid their shields and/or projectiles. I used this one a lot as it quickly gives you an advantage within combat against many ships, providing you with not only an advantage towards a certain ship but also a swift retreat if you’re surrounded and on the verge of defeat.
Rite of the Storm: You can summon the suppressed, emotional and instinctual impulses that linger around you and manifest them as a raging storm, disrupting shields and energy supplies, leaving your enemies vulnerable and exposed. The best part about this is that whilst they’re disrupted, they continue to move with momentum without control, sometimes spinning straight into debris or other ships and exploding upon impact.
The later Rites are just as fun to incorporate within your battles, one even lets you fling the enemies around ala Control style!
Only three weapons?
Is there really only three weapons? Yes and no. Yes, there are three weapon types, but each one has 6-7 different weapons you can unlock and/or purchase. As you progress, you’ll unlock new weapons within each category which all have their own stats and unique abilities. Some are plain weapons, simply increasing the fire-power over previous iterations (maybe swapping the number of rounds per reload for more damage), but some also come with secondary features such as causing a poison cloud upon impact or frying all of the enemies electrics like the Rite of the Storm does.
You can very quickly switch between weapons with the D-Pad, allowing you to easily swap to the one your foe is weak against. Down, on the D-Pad, initiates self-healing – a literal life-saver when you find yourself under attack in the middle of nowhere.
Just like the weapons, there are many modifications to find and/or purchase. These provide an extra boost to many things, such as increasing the damage of a certain weapon type, increasing your speed, or boosting your shields. You can own a lot of these at once but only three can be active at a time. The interesting thing is, equipping multiple weapons and/or modifications belonging to the same ‘group’ will enable additional bonus passive abilities, such as your missiles creating shrapnel upon impact which damages other ships.
Aside from the actual weapons, there’s a non-Rite ability which is a little out of place in a space-based dogfight game – the ability to drift! That’s right, you can enable drift mode so that your ship continues to move via inertia whilst you can fully rotate and attack enemies all around you. This took me a while to master yet it quickly became essential in many parts of the game, not only when attacking enemies or going for a trophy, but also when you need to shoot a number of objects in a short time in order to unlock a door or passage (yes, there are a few of these).
Side missions and the main narrative
Chorus has a very interesting story, one which had me hooked all the way through. Not only do you uncover the past events of what happened with Nara and her former colleagues, but you also unlock memories and past events of other people via the various echoes in each location. You also interact with a lot of new allies, earning their trust and working together as you carry out missions for them or answer their distress calls. Some of these have their own mini-narrative which spans over a few missions, unlocking unique weapons or modifications upon completion.
I found myself addicted to the side-missions, having completed every single one of them despite the trophies only requiring me to complete around 35. Some of them are as simple as defending a location or going to a point and attacking the enemies, but some are more creative such as flying ahead of a group of ships having a race and taking out bombs and destroying walls so none of them crashes. I think most of my time was spent just flying around, admiring the game as I searched everywhere for hidden points of interest and potential side quests.
This was both fun and slightly frustrating towards the end of the game as it doesn’t simply tell you where all the missions are, you have to scout them out by checking each location thoroughly. The reason it was frustrating is because there’s a trophy regarding poisoning enemies with missiles, yet I didn’t have that weapon and I couldn’t find it for sale – so I presumed it was described incorrectly, resulting in me spending a long time finding and shooting enemy ships with each of the weapons I owned many, many times. However, after giving up and deciding to explore, I found out there was a hidden mission I’d not seen which rewards you with the weapon you need to complete the task!
The difficulty and overall feeling
Chorus has three modes, Easy, Normal and Hard, there’s also a permadeath option! As expected, the enemies get tougher and you get weaker depending on the difficulty you set, yet there are no difficulty-based trophies within the game, allowing you to complete the game on whichever setting you wish in order to grab all the trophies. The developers have been very kind with regards to the permadeath mode – this does have a trophy assigned to it, but it’s simply for dying once whilst playing it! I tried this mode but didn’t last very long, I envy anyone who is able to complete the entire game in permadeath!
The last dogfight game I played was The Falconeer, which was a brilliant game where you’re set atop the back of a giant falcon as you sore across the ocean, shooting down other such majestic creatures and sea-based threats. Chorus feels very much like that game, only set in space with an intelligent ship to keep you company. The controls are super tight, delivering an unrealistic (for space) yet very satisfying experience as you glide, boost, teleport, and drift in every direction with ease.
Even if you’re not a fan of these types of games, or you’ve never actually played one before, if you like arcade-style shooters with an interesting story and lots of additional side content to keep you entertained – you need to check this out!
The grind for platinum
I’m not going to lie, Chorus frustrated me a lot whilst I was going for the platinum trophy. Partially this was due to my own decision to not look at the trophies until I’d completed the game (as they weren’t live at the time and I couldn’t be bothered going offline to check them), but also because of the lack of a NG+ and non-respawning enemies. Most trophies will be unlocked naturally, but you also need to master every Weapon, Rite and Combat objective – these range from killing a certain number of enemies with each weapon to using Rites to kill multiple enemies at once.
Why were obtaining these frustrating? Aside from the very infrequent random missions, enemies don’t respawn after you’ve completed certain missions. As such, obtaining a large number of kills is hard and time-consuming if you’ve left these until the end of the game. Similarly, trying to complete all of the muli-kill objectives is almost impossible. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as the final story mission is split into multiple segments, each with an infinite stream of enemies to take out – allowing you to abuse the moment to grind all the remaining trophies over the course of a few hours (depending on what you’ve not yet achieved).
The final mission is a point of no return, if you enter it and complete the game, continuing will place you back before it started and you won’t have any of the objective progression you just achieved. I found this out the hard way. I presumed it would have kept all my progress, allowing me to simply do the final mission a few times to grab the platinum, but alas no. Why did I think this? Prior to this final mission, if you die within any mission, you’ll restart it and keep the progress you made, allowing you to replay the same thing over and over as long as you die without progressing – so I wasn’t expecting the game to throw away my progression in the final hour.
Once I discovered the final mission had unlimited enemies to ‘play’ with, the grind simply turned into a sandbox of destruction – so it didn’t bother me. However, prior to knowing this I had spent hours literally flying around, trying to start a fight with the handful of enemies which spawned in random distress call side-missions.
The HexGaming DualSense Controller
Just a side note, I have a review for the HexGaming DualSense controller coming very soon – the review was delayed as I wanted to talk about one of the best games I’ve played with this controller, Chorus. The controller is basically a customised DualSense, so it is 100% compatible with all PS5 games, with the added bonus of four rear paddles that you can fully customise on the fly. Chorus is a game that requires a lot of fast reactions and precise aiming as there’s no traditional lock-on feature, only a generous hitbox on the enemies. As such, performing the Rites is a little inefficient due to them being commanded by the four face-buttons.
With the HexGaming controller, I easily mapped Square, Circle, Triangle and Cross to the rear paddles, allowing me to keep my thumbs on the two sticks at all times whilst also being able to boost, fire, and activate the Rites without losing control of the ship or sight of the enemies.
I honestly can’t see how the developers could have changed the controller layout, every button is being used in a way similar to other games in the genre, but I clearly had an advantage by owning this impressive controller – I honestly believe the official DualSense should have shipped with rear paddles or at least had an adapter like the DS4 got a few years ago. I’ll have my full review of the HexGaming controller very soon, but if you ever feel like your fingers are getting tangled or you wish you could perform all actions without taking your thumbs off the sticks, it might be worth investing in one.
Chorus is a beautiful, visually stunning game. Despite being set in space, a location notorious for its bland mainly-black appearance, the game looks fantastic as you fly in, over, and under highly-detailed cities, rocks, planets, and temples. The explosions and destruction caused by fallen enemies look amazing on the new consoles, all whilst retaining a locked 60fps.
Well, one mode delivers 60fps, the other has a solid 30fps. I honestly don’t know the difference between the two (other than the framerate), but I’m sure details will be revealed shortly by other outlets. Apparently, the 30fps mode includes Ray Tracing, but I’m not sure if that’s for shadows, lighting, or refections (although I don’t recall seeing any reflections). I tried out both modes and chose to stick to the 60fps mode – they both look fantastic on a 4K TV and the added benefit of being a silky smooth 60fps means you feel more in control of the ship as you engage the Faceless and blast them to smithereens.
On a side note, the cutscenes within the game are also well-crafted and highly detailed. Strangely enough, when playing the game in the 30fps mode, the cutscenes actually run at 60fps – usually, games often have cutscenes at 30, even if the gameplay is 60fps. I must also praise the voice acting as it was solid throughout the game with no dips in quality or performance, same with the music.
Also included is a photo mode. It’s not as robust as ones we’ve seen in other titles, but it allows you to grab some brilliant images – it’s accessed via the menu so you can technically pause the game, swap to the higher-quality 30fps mode, then jump into the photo mode (a trick you could do in Control to get higher quality photos).
Thanks to the addictive gameplay, fantastic visuals, and interesting story, Chorus is easily one of my favourite games of 2021. The gameplay is solid, smooth, fast, and very exciting, hooking you immediately with the mechanics yet keeping you addicted via the engaging and intriguing story. Even if you’re not a fan of the dogfighting genre, or you’ve not played one before, if you have any interest in arcade-style combat enclosed within a mysterious and exciting narrative, then you’ll love Chorus.
If you’re still on the fence as to whether or not you’ll enjoy Chorus, there’s both a PS4 and PS5 demo now live on PSN – there’s also a demo on Steam and the Epic Games Store, but not Xbox (at the moment). You can grab the demo here: PlayStation 5 | PlayStation 4 | Steam | Epic Games Store
- - One of the best space-combat shooters I've ever played
- - Very interesting story with many unique side-missions
- - The gameplay is very smooth and fluid
- - Brilliant voice acting, music, and visuals
- - Easily one of the best games I've played this year
- - Some of the trophies require a bit of grind if you've not been monitoring them throughout
- - No NG+ to play again at the harder difficulties