The Chant: the cosmic horror according to the game's Creative Director

The Chant: the cosmic horror according to the game's Creative Director

The Chant

If there is a genre strongly subject to the fashions and trends of the moment, that is certainly horror. And here the path of videogame productions is divided in half: there are those who follow the current, and those who decide to experiment with something less conventional. This is the case of The Chant, a horror title developed by Brass Token and which travels on the double track of the action-narrative. We told you about it in a tried Gamescom post, which had intrigued us for themes.

The Chant, out November 3 on PC and console, follows the story of Jess, a girl with a painful past who travels to the Isle of Glory to join her best friend on a spiritual retreat. However, the commune, during a purification song, opens a dimensional portal to a world populated by monstrous entities that feed on the negative energy of people. During our rehearsal we noticed several really fascinating aspects in The Chant, and we recently got to deepen them in an interview with Mike Skupa, Creative Director of The Chant at Brass Token.

Cosmic horror

Mike Skupa, Creative Director of Brass Token The first thing we immediately noticed while playing The Chant is the cinematic inspiration: while Skupa talks about the great horror classics at the turn of the 70s and 80s, in the game we also reviewed references, if not homages, to contemporary indie cinematography, to films like The Endless and The Void (of the latter in particular the logo triangle), which seek to their way into a new dimension of cosmic horror. "I've always played Call of Cthulhu and loved weird fiction in general. All those stories always start from a narrative premise capable of developing into cosmic horror. For The Chant we chose the typical structure of cosmic horror stories but lowering it into a different context ". And so the cultists of Lovecraftian memory are transformed into a common new age, the rite of evocation of the Great Ancients becomes a session of spiritual purification made of crystals and good vibrations. "We tried to connect everything in a coherent way, playing with the meanings of spiritualism and mystical philosophies". Skupa brings us a fascinating example of the "opening of the third eye", a practice that leads to spiritual enlightenment, but which in the mechanics of a video game is linked to the points of sanity and the possibility of perceiving cosmic horrors. [embed yt = xqh44AUMAZ0 [embed yt = Id video Youtube]] For Brass Token, however, it has always been important from the beginning, that all the inspiration from new age spiritualism was treated with the right tact and respect because, in the end , it is still part of a belief and value system that is important to many people. "We have done a lot of research to make sure we do not misunderstand any of the elements borrowed from these philosophies. Our team is based in a place (Vancouver, British Columbia ed.) That has seen the birth of numerous spiritual retreats, given the pristine nature. and solitary space. What allowed us to develop The Chant with the right spirit and respect was to create a fictional cult, the Prismatic Science, which takes inspiration with realism and knowledge of the facts from other movements but which then responds to narrative needs. The important thing for us has always been to remain faithful and respectful of our characters: every person on Glory Island is there for a reason, they live their life in a certain way according to their beliefs. To introduce the player to this world we actually used the eyes of Jess, who is clearly the skeptic of the group ".

The Chant takes inspiration from the long tradition of cosm horror fiction ico We also talked about her with Skupa, a character who in hindsight has left a bit of a mark. Jess arrives on the broken island inside her, consumed by a pain that she is unable to appease but which her friend Kim, who seems to be involved in the same drama as the protagonist, has overcome thanks to Prismatic Science. Jess has nothing to lose but clearly the girl's disinterest is a deep despair ... and we know Jess won't find safety on Glory Island, or maybe yes as the game is complemented by multiple endings. As mentioned, each supporting character in the story has a story about her and an intimate reason why she has chosen to embrace the common and the entire plot of the game will bring out the personality and nuances of each character. "Everyone in the group has a fundamental role, not only in performing or reversing the ritual, but also in bringing out deeper aspects of the narrative".

Key word: balance

Balance is the real lifeline of the player In speaking of the cast of The Chant, Skupa uses a particular term, which introduces us to a very important part of the development of the game. "Each character resonates at a different frequency and possesses a unique crystal, creating a symmetry in the Chant. Everything in The Chant has its own cosmic order, made up of symmetries and balance." And it is precisely this balance on which Brass Token has built the whole system of growth and survival of the character. As we told you in our Gamescom trial, The Chant system is tripartite on Mind, Body and Spirit. Forcing one of these stats too much by asking Jess to put all of her energy is extremely dangerous within the gameplay, and also goes against what is the moral of the game, which is to find balance and stay focused in the face of adversity.

"The Mind-Body-Spirit system was not an element that we had immediately in the game, but that we added after a bit of research. From a narrative point of view, the system has a sense from start to finish, and the changes and evolutions of statistics go hand in hand with Jess's ever deeper knowledge of Prismatic Science. From that point on we have developed everything around that focal point. game is close to release we are also constantly looking for the perfect balance, continuously balancing points, percentages and so on. it was certainly a challenge also because the different statistics are interconnected between them. "

Survival on Glory Island won't be easy Speaking of balancing, we took advantage of the chat with the developer to also talk about the balancing of the objects, which during our game test seemed quite severe to us . How does Brass Token know how many consumables to add to the map and where to place them? "Again, a question of balance but in this case they are adjustments that we make now weekly and that vary according to the level of difficulty. Right from the start we thought of The Chant as a narrative experience and that wants to be compelling but not frustrating. Al on the contrary, however, we do not even want the player to feel powerful and in control, ready to exterminate all the enemies that stand in front of him. Deciding whether to fight or flee is a decision that must always be taken in all circumstances in The Chant. Of course if someone wants to an additional level of challenge is right that he can find it and, at that point, the balance of aid changes considerably ".

The development of the plot and the same multiple endings are also linked to the Body-Mind-Spirit system . During the adventure, the player will have the opportunity to freely respond to multiple choice dialogues and each response is linked to one of the game statistics. The choices made and the most developed traits by Jess during his time on Glory Island will influence his destiny.

Beautiful and monstrous nature

The monsters of The Chant are inspired by nature and geometry sacred Although our stay on Glory Island lasted the time of a forty minute demo, exploring the nature of the island was certainly a suggestive experience. From this point of view Brass Token has done a very interesting job, starting by outlining a mild and at the same time powerful natural environment. The tall trees of the forest and the mighty waves crashing on the cliff are mitigated by gentle streams and delicate pollen suspended in the air. Even without monsters, one gets the impression of being exposed to the whims of nature, a sensation accentuated by atmospheric agents and by the characters who walk barefoot everywhere. To this must be added the horrors of the Gloom. "There are several monstrosities that the Gloom will throw at Jess. For the monsters that are not exactly humanoid we have used a mix of natural elements, such as flowers and plants, combined with different sacred geometries and with symbolic values, to reinforce that sense of balance that permeates everything. The game. Many enemies then drain vital energy from humans, becoming luminescent, while the color is given by different emotional vibrations.

The luminescence of monsters is life energy stolen from other creatures Sacred geometry is also an integral part of the game map, structured with different peripheral areas all arranged around the retreat, the fulcrum of this design. "When we started development we were just over five people and the level design at the time was much more linear. Then, the more we researched and shaped the character progression system, the more this theme of geometry and balance took shape in our heads. Since then we have revolutionized everything by creating the different interconnections between the central hub and the areas around it. The final version will have less backtracking than originally anticipated: we realized that too much exploration distracts players and made them wander a bit about the mission objectives. We had to study various solutions and shortcuts to keep everything as cohesive as possible, without however hastening the pace of navigation too much, disseminating the map of elements, objects and pieces of optional lore useful for understanding the story ".

L 'appointment is set for November 3 on PC and console We are waiting for you all on Glory Island, and watch out for the dress code: dress in white and leave your shoes at home.

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