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The Untold Truth Of Chorus

Microsoft announced several new games coming to its next-gen console during the May 7, 2020 Inside Xbox event. Though titles from existing franchises such as Yakuza: Like A Dragon and Assassin's Creed: Valhalla dominated the lineup, a new IP from Deep Silver captured the attention of Xbox users: Chorus

No, not Chorus: An Adventure Musical, the groundbreaking project unveiled in 2019 by the newly minted Summerfall Studios. This is a different Chorus entirely. Think space cultists rather than Greek mythology.

Deep Silver's Chorus offers a new narrative-centered, single-player experience. You will take control of two protagonists — Mara, a skilled pilot, and Forsaken, a sentient AI starfighter — as you go head-to-head with the Circle, the cult that seeks to subjugate the universe. It seems Mara and Forsaken both have dark and troubled backstories, the consequences of which you'll have to contend with as you push to unite the scattered resistance forces against the Circle and its twisted leader, the Great Prophet.

On the surface, Chorus might seem like just another space drama. However, there are several intriguing details waiting to be unearthed if you just dig a little deeper.

Chorus aims to push the space combat shooter genre into its next stage of evolution

Space shooters have existed in some form for decades, with Nintendo's Star Fox franchise largely serving as the face of the genre. Like its predecessors, Chorus promises a healthy dose of interstellar exploration and high intensity dogfights, but the developers have made it clear they do not intend to rely solely on these classic elements.

The gaming industry has undergone a significant evolution in recent years. PCs have grown increasingly powerful, and the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are poised to bridge the gap between computers and consoles. Chorus is being developed for this new generation, which means players can expect more immersion and realism than the genre has previously enjoyed.

The other key points of innovation stem from Chorus' premise and mechanics. In addition to alien planets and aerial battles, the game will include a host of "mind-bending abilities" such as extra-sensory perception and telekinesis. Mara and Forsaken will work in tandem, chaining their powers together to reach new heights. Though Deep Silver has not shared how this will work, Chorus offers an exciting twist on some more traditional gameplay and narrative features.

Though multi-platform, Chorus will deliver the best experience on the Xbox Series X

Chorus will release in 2021 for PC, Stadia, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X, though developer FishLabs appears to have given the latter platform some preferential treatment. Beyond the exclusive reveal during the Inside Xbox event and its place of pride on the Xbox website, Johannes Kuhlmann, head of core technology at FishLabs, has seemingly declared his allegiance to a particular side in the ongoing console war.

"You have way more freedom. You don't have to worry about the framerate as much. You can instead crank it up to a higher framerate," Kuhlmann told Eurogamer during an interview. "In the end it's easier to develop for Xbox Series X than any other console."

Though Kuhlmann says Chorus won't include any Xbox Series X unique features, it has been optimized for the console. This is top priority for the development team, which seeks to take advantage of its upgraded specs. Future Series X owner's have faster load times, 4K Ultra HD, ray tracing, and framerates up to 120FPS to look forward to. Oh, and Chorus comes with Smart Delivery, meaning you can play it on the Series X or Xbox One, but you only have to purchase it once.

What about the PlayStation 5? "I can't really go into details compared to PS5. We are of course looking into that as well," shared Kuhlmann. "But for now, we've been focusing on the Xbox Series X." Well, there you have it.

Chorus developer FishLabs has mainly worked on mobile titles

Similar to protagonists Mara and Forsaken, the backstory of Hamburg-based FishLabs is fraught with trials and brushes with death. Founded in 2004, the company completed a successful round of financing that kept it afloat for nearly a decade before ultimately running out of money in mid-2013. FishLabs filed for insolvency and endured months of layoffs, salary cuts, and crunch before being acquired by Koch Media.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the developer was rebranded as Deep Silver FishLabs and soldiered on as the publisher's dedicated mobile studio. Much like Mara, whose search for redemption will see her take on the cult that created her, FishLabs has worked hard to recover and find a new foothold in the gaming industry.

Best known for the Galaxy on Fire series, which includes multiple entries released for iOS and Android, FishLabs has started to branch out from mobile games and into new territory. The studio developed the Switch ports for Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row 4. Chorus, which has been in development since 2017, will be FishLab's first AAA, multi-platform, cross-generation game. It remains to be seen whether FishLabs will survive its own evolutionary process or fall victim to natural selection.

There seem to be a lot of similarities between Chorus and these popular games

Though billed as a fresh take on the space combat shooter genre, many of Chorus' core elements may seem eerily familiar. If you've played Control, Remedy Entertainment's 2019 supernatural action extravaganza, you might be experiencing some deja vu. Many of the promotional images released for Chorus mirror the brutalist, oppressive, red-saturated environments that defined Control and helped distinguish it from the competition.

The similarities don't end there. Much like Control's Jesse Faden, Mara will call upon a lineup of supernatural abilities while exploring "strange planes of existence beyond our own." Some of these abilities directly overlap, such as telekinesis. Instead of the Service Weapon, Mara has Forsaken, a sentient ship she can combine powers with "to become the ultimate living weapon." Ringing any bells?

Commenters who watched the Announce Trailer were also quick to point out commonalities between Chorus and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, with one calling it "HellBlade in Space." Chorus even earned the nickname "Spaceblade." Others mistook the trailer for an Everspace sequel. Venturing into the realm of unreleased titles, there also seems to be some overlap between Chorus and the marketing for Square Enix's Outriders, as well as Disintegration, the upcoming sci-fi FPS from Private Division.

Do these similarities mean Chorus will be a bad game? Not necessarily, but you may wish to keep an eye out for more red flags. Hopefully, future trailers and demos will help distinguish the title and provide a clearer look at the unique qualities it has to offer.