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The horror game genre is one of gaming’s more saturated markets at the moment. Whether it be a new indie horror or a new Resident Evil, horror game fans usually have plenty of games to go around. Now new development studio Brass Token is attempting to break into that market with its inaugural title — an atmospheric horror title called The Chant.
Brass Token describes The Chant as a “third-person horror action-adventure” game. Playing as Jess Briar, a traumatized young woman looking for some kind of guidance in her life, who finds herself at Prismic Science Spiritual Retreat on a remote island. A ritual goes wrong, as they do, and gamers must survive against an onslaught of “psychedelic” cosmic horrors.
Speaking with GamesBeat in an interview, Brass Token CEO Mike Skupa described the game’s core concept: “It started with wondering what would happen if you had a spiritual awakening, and it turned out to be more of a horrific experience than a positive one… We’re a small, boutique studio, so it was really important to play to our strengths and do something stylish. Even things like having it on an island retreat where characters are not using technology and are wearing similar clothes. Those things play to our strengths and capabilities as a team.”
The Chant is also Brass Token’s first game, and Skupa added that the game started off as a small, personal project. “It was our first foray into the independent space, and then we got some funding from the Canada Media Fund, which really helped a small team like ours move forward and bring some new talent on. As we’ve been bringing more and more people on, the game has changed and grown with the different individuals who have joined. Then we signed up with Prime Matter [the game’s publisher] and that allowed us to grow the game and make it bigger, to realize our vision and also have it be released on different platforms. It’s been a slow and steady escalation… What you can do with a smaller team is incredible compared to what you could do, you know, five years ago.”
New Age horror
GamesBeat also spoke with Siobhan Williams, the actor who plays Jess. According to Williams, Jess struggles with anxiety and suffers panic attacks. “That’s something we really don’t see in games. Games are getting to a point where the fidelity is the same as a film, only it’s more immersive to the player. But we still haven’t touched on a lot of sensitive topics, so I thought that was really interesting. I loved the concept when they were talking about cosmic horror. New Age subjects are interesting to me, and the game is very tongue-in-cheek. It doesn’t matter if you’re into that kind of stuff or not — if you are, you’ll think it’s cool, and if you’re not, you’ll be able to make fun of it.”
Skupa said that the small team at Brass Token wanted to take a different approach to horror. “Being a smaller team and having that freedom, we wanted to tell that original story using an original location and subject matter… The art team has taken symbols like sacred geometry or mandalas and created creatures out of those shapes. You can look at these creatures and think they’re beautiful in a sense. We don’t want the game to feel necessarily gritty or disturbing all the time. There’s this kind of otherworldly wonder. One of the reasons I like horror fiction and movies is that sense of mystery and wonder.”
The Chant is set to launch sometime later this year on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.