Video games are one of the only forms of media where we can take all the established rules of reality and throw them out the window. But Chorus, the latest title from developer Fishlabs, isn’t simply letting players jump 10 stories or hurl fire from their hands. Instead, the developer has taken every law of physics that applies to space and flushed them through the airlock, all by letting a spaceship do the coolest thing ever: Drift.
Naturally, the ship that players are tethered to in Chorus can do a lot more than drift. The vessel, which is its own living creature, can transform, teleport, and use magic to let players become the most overpowered space pilot the world has ever known.
It’s wonderful, then, that the game drills in on letting players be an ace pilot, and not its strange story involving space cultists and an aspect that’s oddly similar to the Hiss from Control.
Control, but in space
It’s weird to say, but during my extremely brief (around 45-minute) preview of Chorus, I couldn’t stop comparing the game to Remedy’s Control. In Chorus, you play as Nara, a pilot whoturns against the strange space-cultist faction she was fighting for to side with the rebels opposing them. One soldier defecting wouldn’t be a big deal, but Nara’s case is different since she has a magical, talking spaceship named Forsaken.
What the Service Weapon is to Control, Forsaken is to Chorus. Much like the anomalous gun, Forsaken can change its shape, shifting to fire different kinds of weaponry or moving in different ways at the player’s command. At first, it takes some getting used to, as every function of the ship goes against a different enemy, making combat in Chorus a big game of rock, paper, scissors. Enemies with shields are affected the most by lasers, those with armor get rocked by missiles, and the poor suckers with nothing covering their hides save for some metal are taken out swiftly by Gatling guns.
Nara, Chorus‘ protagonist, doesn’t really compare to Control‘s Jesse, though. Save for whisper-yelling internal monologues, Nara is essentially featureless, without a sense of humor, personality, or drive, save for her desire to destroy the cult that she used to be a part of. It could simply be that her story is told more in different parts of the story than the 45 minutes I played, but my first impression of her was lukewarm at best.
Opposing her is the game’s main antagonist, the cultist group known as The Circle. Their ships, all colored Hiss red, are what players will spend most of their time shooting at during the game. However, there’s a greater threat that The Circle is seemingly trying to bring into the star system. During a vision, Nara sees a red portal open up, with tendrils and massive structures made of cubes spilling out. Chorus‘ art style is the end of its comparisons to Control, though, as everything else in the game feels wholly unique.
Eat it, Newton
Newton’s first law states that an object in motion stays in motion. In space, it’s an invaluable rule, seeing as how there’s no atmosphere to act upon a moving object. In Chorus, though, Newton can shove it. Who needs a first law when you can drift in space?
Drifting is just one of the maneuvers I saw during my time with Chorus, and it made a heap of difference in the game’s combat. During its multiple combat scenarios, I was pitted against dozens of enemies, each of which could tail me and start taking out chunks of my health or shields. To turn the tables, I’d, well, turn. Drifting lets you quickly spin around to meet any ship on your tail, giving you an opportunity to open fire on them before speeding away.
If that wasn’t enough, Forsaken can also teleport. This ability is used somewhat in the game’s exploration, letting players teleport through shields or other barriers. In combat, though, players can teleport behind ships that they’re locked on to, giving them a perfect chance to quickly take down another ship.
Of course, there are other abilities players will unlock as the game progresses. A shop is available that lets players customize Forsaken’s weapons and armor, and strange temples scattered throughout the star system unlock new abilities. I never came across one in the star system the game’s preview was set in, but Chorus will have multiple systems for players to explore, likely packed with powers to claim.
See you, space cultist
My short look at Chorus was enough to get me interested in a game I had no desire to dive into before I played it. While I could do without its strange story of revenge against a group of space cultists, I was sucked into its fast-paced, flashy spaceship combat.
Even more, though, I’m excited for what’s coming in Chorus. I didn’t get a chance to play through a segment like this during my preview, but a press event showed things grow to a much larger scale. Eventually, players will fight against Star Destroyer-sized ships, gliding across them and destroying artillery cannons and batteries.
For that part of Chorus, I’ll likely have to wait for the game’s release date. Chorus is set to launch on December 3 on PC, PlayStation 5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and Google Stadia.