Having been announced in 2020, Chorus has been in development since and is finally ready to take off this week. The game is from Deep Silver Fishlabs, a studio that has previously worked on Galaxy on Fire and fits neatly alongside Everspace, Elite: Dangerous and more recently, Star Wars Squadrons. However, the developer is looking to do something different for the genre and after spending some time digging in, I feel like Chorus does a great job at establishing the stakes and the relationship between woman and machine early on.
Playing as dual protagonists: ex-cultist Nara, an ace pilot with a haunted past, and Forsaken, a sentient AI starfighter and her closest ally, with a mysterious backstory of his own to unravel. You’ll unlock devastating weapons and bombastic abilities to use against the Circle and free the galaxy from their control. Your sentient ship goes by Forsaken and with your help, needs to visit ancient temples to unlock its true potential. Together, you’ll take on the Great Prophet who is on your tail, one of the galaxy’s most feared soldiers, now on the run from those you once called friends.
Ace Chorus Combat
The game begins with Nora looking to recover some power cells and is currently on the run from the Circle. It’s not long into the opening hour you’re able to see what the connection between Nora and Forsaken is capable of. The ship is important to the narrative as much as it is a mechanic and melding the two together, allows for some particularly excellent interactions between Nara and Forsaken, a pair that need to learn to trust each other.
Throughout the game, expect to visit several star systems that have split up in a semi-open world. You can move through each star system freely and can partake in missions and side quests and even move between each system via jump gates.
Now, piloting Forsaken is responsive and feels great but does take some getting used to. I found myself struggling early on before having that moment during a battle where the controls finally clicked. If you’ve played one, you’ve likely played them all and Chorus does a good job at featuring a mostly satisfying gameplay loop for the player to engage with even if it’s not a particularly deep genre.
Your ship will use three types of weapons to help you in your mission, the Gatling gun, the missiles, and lasers. Chorus smartly implements all three weapons against enemies, some being more effective than others. The Gatling gun excels at taking down faster enemies like the Ravens or Crows, lasers will bring down enemy shields, and missiles have an area of effect. You can also upgrade the three weapon types to increase strength or reduce cooldown.
Additionally, modifications can be used to provide stat bonuses and some even come in sets to change how powerful the ship becomes. And all of this is done in the Hangar, where Nara and Forsaken can take a breather, upgrade the ship, buy weapons, mods and so on.
Nara has the abilities that she learned while she was with the Circle. These abilities are known as Rites and it is how she can channel her power to help her enemies. An example is Nara can work in tandem with Forsaken to use Drift Trance, this is when the pair are completely in sync and allowing the shift to drift at will, a skill that is used to in some great ways.
Tight spaces and corridors require precision turns and with drift, this is a great way to showcase how great the controls are and make you feel like a weathered pilot. It took a bit to get used to, but it works when you understand the mechanics, and how speed and drifts rift off each other.
Given Nara is where the magical powers stem from using Rite of the Hunt to warp behind a ship and blast to pieces helps the chaotic nature of a space shooter feel manageable. At least for me, I can get disorientated when playing a game in space and using an ability like this to get my bearings and finish my enemy is a huge help. Nara boasts several skills, each Rite offering a response to the enemy threat – throw enemies into disarray with Rite of the Storm or use Rite of the Star to blast through enemies and damage them at the same time. There’s also the Rite of Senses Nara uses to scan the environment to see enemies, objects, and points of interest.
Despite all these mechanics adding, combat never sat with me. I tried my best to find some good in the gameplay, but it falls in a pattern that happens in the genre. Sure, some of the bigger ships will be challenging and you’ll probably die a few times before understanding Nara’s abilities to phase into the ship is the key to taking these Shade ships down. Even with the enemy variety across the various factions, there isn’t enough creativity given to the player.
Chorus is an unusual beast thanks to the symbiotic union between Nara and Forsaken. The genre itself has been around for decades and it is likely you’ve dabbled before, so you’ll know what you’re getting into with Chorus. However, it’s the attention to telling a story and building a world in dire straights that is what kept me pushing forward. Forsaken tight handling and engaging upgrade paths make a good impression, but the combat doesn’t offer enough to keep players invested because dogfights in space can only offer so much before falling into repetition.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]