June has its fair share of big hitters and tasty treats landing on Xbox Game Pass, with the likes of For Honor: Marching Fire Edition, a newly upgraded Assassin's Creed Origins, Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection and the excellent Shadowrun Trilogy to name just a few of the delights that subscribers have to get stuck into over the coming weeks.
Amidst all of this, it may be easy to miss out on one of my absolute favourite sci-fi games of the past couple of years, Deep Silver Fishlabs' Chorus (or Chorvs if you prefer). This one released back in December of last year to fairly positive reviews, but it feels like a game that's sort of slipped through the cracks a little bit. Now that it's hitting Xbox Game Pass, however, I highly recommend you take it for a spin, especially if you're a fan of all things space combat, as the interstellar dogfighting action here is some of the best I've ever encountered.
Chorus tells the story of Nara, a highly skilled fighter pilot with a dark and mysterious past who blasts into action in a sentient ship known as Forsaken - think Optimus Prime in a very bad mood - in order to take down an oppressive cult known as The Circle, led by the evil Great Prophet who, like all the very best evil folk, is intent on ruling the entire galaxy.
I'm not gonna sugar-coat it, the story here is absolutely the weak link in the chain, with a rather annoyingly overwrought central performance and plenty of sci-fi cliché packed in along the way, but it does enough, just enough, to propel you forward and keep you hooked into the game's space combat, which is what we're really here for. If the idea of any sort of dogfighting, whether it be in space or the skies above good old earth itself, immediately makes you brace for repetitive circling of foes as you attempt to line up a few shots, well, Chorus would like to have a word.
Here we have a couple of simple, but absolutely game-changing, mechanical additions to your usual space combat fare that transform what is often a heavily repetitive experience into something fresh and fun. As Nara ventures forth on her adventure, shooting out across the game's rather spectacular open world setting, she comes across a handful of ancient temples where she'll be gifted powers through sacred "rites". These rites include the ability to drift your ship, swinging its back end stylishly around in order to get an advantageous angle on targets, the ability to temporarily disable an enemy's craft, leaving it completely open to attacks and, most importantly, the "Rite of the Hunt", which gifts Nara the ability to "blink" in behind an enemy with the push of a button. Together these three powers imbue the game's fast-paced and often super-challenging combat with a rhythm that makes for stupendously engaging and super slick encounters.
Whether you're facing off against one of Chorus's bosses, taking on an enormous battle cruiser and all of its many turrets, or squaring up to a squad of highly trained enemy fighters, that core combination of disabling a craft, drifting into position for a kill or blinking in behind a foe to ravage them with laser fire gives the action here a real boost. It's the kind of combat that you can really dig into, with plenty of room to improve and eventually, with enough practice, you'll be boosting into every battle safe in the knowledge that you're about to lay the space smack down with style and grace to spare. It's super addictive stuff.
Beyond the combat there's also a magnificent universe to blast across here, a gorgeous open world that unlocks as you progress, revealing an impressive variety of locales in which to do battle. It's easy-to-follow stuff too and picking up a side mission is as simple as pulsing your vicinity to highlight activities to get stuck into hoovering up. The story here may well be a little on the weak side, and this is something many reviews seemed to focus on upon the game's release, but if you can forgive it this one shortcoming you'll find that Chorus really is hard to put down once you get into its groove. I for one will be getting stuck right back into it when it drops onto Game Pass on the 7th, and I thoroughly recommend you give a try if you've got even a passing interest in great big pew-pew laser space battles. And, I mean, who hasn't?
Have you already played Chorus? Thinking about giving it a bash when it hits Xbox Game Pass? Let us know in the comments.