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There are some good ideas in The Chant, surrounded by a bit of unpolish. The Chant is a survival horror action game set on a spiritual remote island retreat, where you play as a young woman (Jess) recovering from past trauma. Something on this island goes awry and cultists, beasts, and all hell are soon thrown into the mix.
Jess has 3 meters: Mentality, Heart, and Spirit. Heart acts as Jess' health bar. Mentality will decrease under different circumstances and cause Jess to have a panic attack, forcing her to run away from combat for a bit while being unable to attack for a brief moment. The Spirit meter allows Jess to slowly meditate, transferring whatever power is available in her Spirit meter to her Health and Mentality. Spirit also doubles as Jess' skill meter, allowing her to utilize skills to further help in combat. If either her Health or Mentality reaches zero, Jess dies.
Standard gameplay for the most part. Jess can pick up and read pages about the island retreat lore, pick up herbs to increase her mind/body/spirit meters, collect crystals to upgrade abilities, find old film tapes to view in projectors that show clips to further explain the story, etc. Puzzles involve finding items, and keys, moving lights into the correct sequence, etc. These start off fairly simple and slowly get more involved (but never frustrating or overly complicated) while utilizing the spiritual theme of the game quite well. Throughout the game, Jess will approach colored glooms to progress to various areas. These glooms act as nightmarish like fields, where being inside of these will slowly drain Jess' Mentality meter, causing her to panic and run away if it fully depletes. It's an interesting exploration/backtracking system, as, throughout the game, Jess earns colored prism necklaces that allow her to enter respective glooms pertaining to the colored prisms she has collected so far.
Combat ditches guns for a more melee, almost beat 'em-up approach. Instead of guns and standard melee weapons, Jess uses sticks to attack enemies using light and heavy attacks. Different sticks have different properties (fire, sage, occult), which are weaker/stronger against specific enemies. A few different throwable items such as essential oils and salt can be crafted and thrown at enemies, while skills with cooldowns can be used to stun, damage, and incapacitate enemies. Dodge somewhat works, as Jess will fall down and stumble giving her ample room to dodge attacks. Her dodge does become an issue when surrounded by a group of enemies or backed into a corner. Combat does feel clunky, even with notes taken from the action beat 'em-up genre.
Some issues I have with The Chant are a lack of manual saves. The game autosaves at some points, but not after every key action. Some parts reloaded me at least 5 minutes back, which was manageable, but annoying in a way. Boss fights, while not particularly challenging, can be won quite easily. While the game runs at 60 fps on Xbox Series S, it does slightly drop in some moments when climbing a ladder, entering a new area or in a boss battle when a lot of action is happening at once. Character faces look last gen and the voice acting is mostly serviceable, though the lip syncing isn't up to par.
There is some incentive for replayability as the game has 3 different endings and a Resident Evil-like achievement/trophy for completing the game in under 4 hours. My final playthrough clocked in at just over 6 hours.
Even with the clunkyness and lack of polish in some areas, I enjoyed The Chant from start to finish. It's one of those games that started out interesting and got better all the way through. While I wouldn't call it a hidden gem, it's worth checking out for a different take on a survival horror game.
A simple all-female wrestling game with sexy vixens, ruined by a confusing, frustrating unlock system and a lack of content. What Rumble Roses XX gets right is its character system. Though there are only 10 or so playable characters, every fighter (or Rose) has a face and a heel version, totaling up to 20 characters. In addition, a Superstar version of each Rose can also be unlocked. As this is a Mature rated wrestling game with only women, nearly every Roses’ gimmick caters to the typical male fantasy. You have a nurse named Anesthesia, a punk rocker with pigtails named Candy Cane, and a sexy cop named Sgt. Clements. The list goes on from there.
Superstar characters come into play with the popularity system. After a match, a Roses’ popularity will rise or fall. If it rises above 80, that you can choose a Superstar version of that Rose which is a super version with more powerful moves. If the popularity of said Rose falls below 80, the Superstar version is gone and must be raised above 80 to unlock again. Even though this may sound like a bad system, it makes sense when you consider how popularity works in professional wrestling and sports entertainment.
The gameplay is a dumbed-down, less complex version of SmackDown vs. Raw 2007. However, that’s not bad as the controls are very simple and easy to pick up and learn. The only issue is that controls are only found through a tutorial icon on the main menu. Pausing the game doesn’t give you a list of controls, and the only contextual controls that pop up on screen are a button for pins when the opponent is on the mat and a button for performing finishers when the situation calls for them.
Don’t expect a Story, Career, Season, or Tournament mode as there is no real single-player mode. Instead, the main menu acts as a hub (similar to an overworld map like in Virtua Fighter 5's Quest Mode or Def Jam Fight For New York's Story Mode) where you can select between exhibition mode (allowing you to pick the match option and your opponent), match icons that randomly pair you up with an opponent, an in-game shop, and a settings option. Aside from singles, tag, triple threat, four ways, and handicap matches, Street Fights and Queen’s Matches are the only gimmick matches. Street Fight plays like a watered-down fighting game where pins and submissions are disabled. Queen’s Match is basically a 1-on-1 match, except the Roses wear swimsuits and fight in a ring on the beach. The objective is the win, so the loser has to perform a humiliating act. It’s an interesting idea as you can choose what action the loser has to do upon selecting this match (yoga, dancing, limbo, doing a pose), but the post-match action is really only a cutscene and nothing spectacular.
Unlocking content is terrible and as a 2006 game, almost makes current-gen game unlock systems run for the hills. The achievements, while not difficult, are super time-consuming and take well over several hundred hours. To win a championship, you have to defeat all 9 default Roses once, win 15 singles matches, and win a few matches consecutively. Only then, a Champ icon will pop up, allowing you to fight for the title. Now if you want to unlock a Roses’ alter ego, you must do the exact same thing, with the rest of the 9 Roses, then defeat a Rose to unlock the alter ego. The problem is that the game gives no indication of ranking or stats outside of hours and the number of matches played. You also cannot simply play Exhibition matches and must choose one of the icons on the map, often forcing you to back in and out of the settings option just to have that one Rose you haven’t beaten show up.
The in-ring gameplay is mostly okay as it plays like a stripped down, yet workable version of SmackDown vs Raw 2006. Submissions seem to be an important factor since when one is performed, a camera icon pops up on the screen and you can rotate the thumbsticks to get a better view of the quote, unquote “action.” The amount of moves isn't massive, so expect to see your entire Roses moveset after playing a match for a few minutes. Every Rose has a Killer move, a Lethal move, and a Humiliation move. Killer moves are performed if your opponent is standing, while Lethal and Humiliation moves are position-dependent. Killer moves are glorified finishers, Lethal moves are more painful finishers and Humiliation moves are finishers/submissions that result in an instant win once performed. Unlike the WWE games, finishers are played out in a cinematic fashion similar to fighting games, so you can technically be attacked and perform your finisher while being hit in an animation.
The controls are great, and while the action happens at a brisk pace, it can feel a bit sluggish at times with somewhat slow movement and the odd hit detection. I guess it also doesn’t help that the camera view perspective is on the turnbuckle, versus the traditional ringside view. The A.I. is not the best. They put up a decent fight, but even on Easy, they tend to counter a lot of attacks.
There is a Create a Wrestler mode, although it is extremely limited. Very few options for hair and facial features exist and while you can unlock a select few costumes in the shop, they come as sets and do not allow you to really mix and match or individualize parts. To put it shortly, you won't be able to create anyone near the level of say, any WWE games’ Create a Wrestler mode.
I will give Rumble Roses XX credit since it is a unique, fun wrestling game that has a fair bit of personality with an interesting persona system. It just needed the content on the level of the SmackDown games and fewer grindy unlock requirements. This feels more like a director's cut rather than a sequel to the PS2 original. Playing this game with friends will provide some entertainment, but going into the ring along with Rumble Roses XX provides fun along with a match-up against confusion, annoyance, and frustration.
Edengate looks like a psychological survival horror game at first, but it's a walking simulator where you interact with items. You play as Mia Lorenson, a young woman who wakes up in a hospital with amnesia and discovers she is alone and isolated in the world. Story was a mixed bag, it didn't make a whole lot of sense and I couldn't fully understand what was going on. Throughout the game, Mia interacts with glowing items (memories, which show well-voiced cutscenes with slowly moving concept art), and randomly starts remembering how and what happened? I was left with more questions than answers when the game ended.
No combat is present. Progression is very linear and straightforward on a set path. Some areas may be a small bit more open than others, but arrows and some signs will guide the way and tell you where to go. Puzzles that mostly involve codes to unlock doors, moving an item in the right spot, and hitting switches in the correct order, are easy. Clues lying around will give the answer to these. Graphically, Edengate is decent. It doesn't look very 2022-ish in terms of visuals and looks more like a 2015-dated indie game. The world and environments look very similar to Resident Evil 3 Remake, though some areas such as the school and street seem to reuse the same layouts and design aspects.
Edengate is not a bad game at all, but can be classified as "Baby's First Walking Simulator." For the $7 price and the 1-2 and a half hour time it takes to play through the game, Edengate does offer somewhat of a fun experience. If you played other narrative adventure/walking sims before, this one may not do much to captivate you. Otherwise, it's worth a new experience.