Space battles have always excited me. I think I speak for most of us when I say that ever since seeing movies like Star Wars as a child, the idea of chasing down and blasting enemies against the backdrop of the cosmic ballet has always been tantalising. Chorus takes this premise and delivers a fun time sponge of an experience that will get its hooks into you, if you let it.
See the Chorus demo in action here
Playing the demo on PC, I first noticed the cold, haunting environment. This sandbox is one of many that we'll experience in the full game (so I'm told), and is full of asteroids and debris, all of which adds to the sense of danger in Chorus.
You play as Nara, a former member of a cult called the Circle, who is now out for revenge against her former companions. The game begins by tasking the player - who pilots a sentient starship known as the Forsaken - with searching for survivors, before directing them to a safer location. These NPCs are initially distrusting of Nara, but soon accept her help as there really is no other alternative.
The game offers a variety of objectives. These include tracking down refugee ships, negotiating with potential allies, and dogfighting against enemy vessels. The latter is apparently the core of the gameplay experience, as most missions see you having to eliminate hostiles.
The action is compellingly fun. Equipped with machine guns, missiles and lasers, you'll face plenty of opposition. Different types of enemy craft will require different weapons to destroy, something the game points out each time you encounter a brand new type of baddie. It's up to you to remember these strategies, otherwise certain death awaits.
Luckily, death only takes you back to the previous checkpoint, which is usually the start of the mission, or the particular phase of the one that you're on at the time. With this in mind, there's a general sense of freedom when taking on foes, meaning you don't have to play it safe during every encounter.
You also have useful abilities, like being able to teleport short distances. This mechanic lets you overcome otherwise impenetrable barriers, as well as jump straight to behind an enemy, giving you the edge on them during a battle. This particular ability allows for more streamlined combat, which is helpful when you're struggling against a whole squadron.
Chorus has an interesting upgrade system. You're able to head to the Hangar to buy new weapons or gear with credits - the currency you find around the map - but the surprising part is to upgrade most things, you have to use them. For instance, killing enemies with your gatling gun reduces how fast it overheats. Likewise, finding 1,000 credits will increase the amount you're able to find in future. While nothing new, this method of levelling up means your play style determines your advancement, which makes you focus on the way you play.
As I previously mentioned, there are a number of different locations to explore. These separate sandboxes are accessed via jumpgates, which will result in a loading screen when one is used, so I'm told. While I could only test one area in the demo, I can say I was pleased by how vast it was. There were plenty of points of interest, with considerable distances between some of them, and there was currency concealed around the map, rewarding you for delving into different sections.
The environment is gorgeous, too. The dark backdrop is illuminated by countless stars, spreading purples, blues and greens liberally among the nebulous reaches of space. These hues compensate for the heavy use of grey present in the various spacecrafts, resulting in a peaceful, pleasing location that's a joy to meander through. At least, when you're not engaged in a dogfight.
Although I've only spent three hours with Chorus at the time of writing, it's clear there's plenty in this game to keep players coming back. From its satisfying combat, to the hauntingly pretty scenery, there's enough here to make it stand out against the crowd.
Chorus was tested on PC (Steam) with code provided by the publisher. The game will be released December 3, 2021, for PC, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and Stadia.
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