Deep Silver’s Chorus, developed by Fishlabs, had been high on our list of eagerly anticipated December releases for a while now. How did it turn out? We played the PlayStation 4 and 5 versions to find out.
Part of the reason we were looking forward to Chorus was Star Wars: Squadrons. While we really enjoyed it and it was a very immersive Star Wars experience in VR, it was also a bit slower paced than the trailers initially suggested and it didn’t quite scratch that cinematic arcade sci-fi shooter itch that we’ve had for almost 30 years – ever since the original Rebel Assault launched in 1993.
I wasn’t familiar with Fishlabs’ previous work in the genre on mobile platforms, but the trailers for Chorus looked great and the fact that it promised a narrative-driven solo campaign only added to the appeal. That story revolves around Nara, an elite fighter pilot with a dark personal history who’s going up against an organization called “The Circle”. Weaving past asteroids and squadrons of enemy fighters, you’ll progress through a campaign that ended up lasting almost 13 hours for us – a good length for a game in the sci-fi shooter genre that’s often dominated by exploration and trading.
Although you’ll run into plenty of other characters during your travels, your main conversation partner is the fully voiced AI of your ship, Forsaken. All other characters are also voiced, though the writing and plot feel like something out of a made for TV sci-fi movie – entertaining enough, but it won’t leave the kind of lasting impression that sci-fi gems like Mass Effect did.
What keeps the game engaging isn’t the fun-though-generic plot though, it’s the fact that the gameplay keeps evolving thanks to new abilities that you unlock at temples you find in the game’s semi-open world environment. Scanning your surroundings for useful items and markers is a good start, but pretty soon you can add more combat-centric abilities to your arsenal as well – like a mini warp-drive that lets you emerge right behind the enemy for a surprise they weren’t ready for.
And while special abilities are definitely fun, it helps that Chorus’ regular weapons also look and feel great – making you feel like you’re a fighter pilot with some serious firepower behind you. On the PlayStation 5, DuelSense support adds to this experience, giving you distinctly different feedback when firing missiles instead of lasers. Combat is smooth and fun, and it made me want to tackle most of the optional side missions as well. Even though they’re not directly tied to the core story, there’s a good amount of diversity in these missions and the core mechanics just work well.
What definitely also helps is that Chorus looks great, even in the (60 fps) performance mode. You can boost the visual quality at the expense of the frame rate as well thanks to the game’s quality mode, which we think looks absolutely great. We do think the game could use a ‘balanced’ or ‘performance+’ mode that fits the middle ground though, or a mode for 1080p displays that keeps all the visual fidelity without sacrificing the frame rate. Perhaps the game already adjusts the visual quality for these scenarios, but that wasn’t clear to us.
This is a wonderful story-driven sci-fi shooter, and while its exploration bits keep it from being an arcade shooter (and is what accounts for part of the running time), the combat sequences are fast, explosive and look beautiful.