The Chant can’t get itself together enough to make the best of its smart ideas

Eternal Darkness, even after all these years, remains one of my favourite horror games.

The regular changing of perspectives and environments, the different challenges you face and how you approach them, and the impact it all has on your sanity. The game was so ridiculously ahead of its time that, even now, it’s still handling mechanics better than some recent releases.

Case in point, The Chant. A game that has decided to put its own spin on the spiritual, with your Mind, Body and Spirit regularly suffering in the face of diseased plants, deranged hellspawn and … flies.

It’s a shame as it all starts out so well and sets quite an interesting premise with game lead, Jessica Briars, arriving at a spiritual retreat at the request of her friend, Kim Mallari. Jess doesn’t really believe in the benefits of spiritual healing but as she meets the camp residents, she takes the time to learn and embrace the culture.

Jess gathers plants to help soothe her wounds and restore her connections. She listens to people’s stories and starts to learn more about their reason for being there.

And then it all just kind of goes to shit. Just as you’re starting to learn about these characters, the game decides to make everything messy, throw a bunch of weirdness at the screen and everyone loses their minds, swearing like troopers, covered in blood.

Suddenly you’re smashing your best friend’s head into lit candles, everything’s gone hazy, black and grey, and all you have to defend yourself is a lit cone of incense.

The Chant doesn’t understand pacing. Frankly, the narrative is all over the place. And where games like The Dark Pictures have done a good job of gradually building up suspense, I don’t feel like I knew much of anything about my character before I was fighting everyone and everything.

Which is a shame considering its start, but also the game’s mechanical approach, looking after your Mind, Body, and Spirit, healing them with select herbs, then monitoring them depending on the scenario you find yourself in.

Walking in the dark will cause your mind to slowly slip away so you need to find a light source. You can suddenly experience panic attacks which mean you can’t attack and have to retreat and compose yourself. There are occasional mind games you will be subjected to and have to press X at the right time to snap out of it. You can even attune to your spiritual level to get access to some neat supernatural abilities.

As you can see, there’s a core of a good game here. But because the story is so scattered and the general execution is messy and clunky, I soon lost motivation, care or interest in what was going on.

The variety of enemies also doesn’t help, with many of them being irritating and overpowered, swarming you in ridiculous numbers, and often cornering you in the tightest corners or corridors.

For a relatively low-profile release, however, the game does boast some nice visuals. Character models are well animated and there’s a few stunning sequences throughout that really grab the attention, amazingly managing to compare with games on double their budget. Unfortunately, the game’s mostly dull palette detracts from that just as quickly.

Part of me really wanted to enjoy The Chant, and in certain situations, I was close to it as I started to uncover fragments of the lore, got more familiar with its gameplay, and understood a bit about the world. But as soon as I found myself getting into it, the game did something to snap me out of it.


The Chant has some interesting ideas, looks great, and starts its premise out well, but it just deteriorates so quickly into a convoluted mess. Between frustrating combat and enemy designs, characters that aren’t given time to develop, and a story that never really settles into a groove, the game just never fulfils its promise or potential.


+ Some interesting gameplay mechanics
+ Surprisingly stunning visuals


– Enemy hordes are mostly overpowered and have irritating attack patterns
– Tedious sections which really test the patience
– Narrative is scattered and characters feel undeveloped

The Chant is out now on Xbox, PC, and PlayStation. 

Played on PlayStation 5

Code Kindly Provided by Plaion

About the author

Brad Baker

Brad is an absolute horror buff and adores the new take on I.T. He also fancies himself as a bit of a Battle Royale master but never when anyone's watching.
Skip to toolbar