The original Chime made the art of creation a simple and serene matter. The music puzzle game was a wonderful source of distraction and ultimately proved to be a lot of fun despite limited content. Chime Sharp maintains what made the original great and ups the content significantly, becoming a marvelously compelling puzzler.
Chime Sharp has a slightly different take on the block placing puzzle games we’re used to. Although the similarities between games such as Tetris and Lumines are clear, Chime Sharp defines its self by concentrating on the creation of blocks, or quads as it refers to them, formed by an array of different shapes you can place on screen. As you place the shapes a bar will move from left to right whilst the background music plays, and as the bar passes over shapes and quads the music changes, essentially being remixed by what you’ve placed. As more quads are formed, the track progresses further along until you reach the end of your time limit.
Indeed, the major difference between Chime Sharp and similar games is in its use and manipulation of music. It’s your goal to fill the screen with quads to score points, increasing the size of a quad from the minimum 3×3 to however large you can make it within a set amount of growth time. A quad, once passed over, then disappears from the play area having changed the background colour to signify the zone has been covered. Once the entire play area is covered the screen is reset for you to continue increasing your score until the time runs out. It may come across as complex but Chime is self-explanatory, the puzzle aspect is easy to fathom due to its similarities with other shape puzzle games and the same can be said for the musical aspect, but despite the continued comparisons, Chime does have an entirely different personality.
This personality shines through due to the way you can interact with the music. Every time you play you’ll notice subtle differences in the track, all due to the way you arrange the shapes and quads. As a result you feel connected to the game and the music, and replayability becomes essentially unlimited. As with most games of this type, Chime Sharp proves to be highly compelling, with friends and global leaderboards helping to provide an additional lure beyond the almost trance like state the gameplay otherwise invokes. Chime Sharp is relaxing, even during the last seconds of a level you’ll find it hard to scramble for points and will more likely continue at a comfortable pace, enjoying the music and the charm Chime Sharp conducts.
Where the original had a mere five tracks, Chime Sharp features 15, covering multiple genres of music but all designed to subtlety warp and bend to the will of the quads you place. Each song has four modes, but with Practise whisking you away to an entirely separate level rather than the one you’ve selected, it hardly counts. Of the remaining three, Standard and Sharp will grip you the most. In Standard mode you’re fighting against the clock, coverage of the level, and high scores, with quads providing extra time. Sharp meanwhile, tasks you with covering the board but with no time limit, instead you have lives that are eaten away by any shape fragments you allow to fade away if they aren’t incorporated into a quad over time. Whichever mode you choose, you’re in for a challenge, and with each level including its own selection shapes, there’s a learning curve to each one. For such a simple premise, each level is remarkably, and terrifically, unique beyond the song and the shape of the level.
Despite the challenge and the time limit of Standard mode, there’s a tranquillity to Chime Sharp. The songs help to reinforce this relaxed demeanour and suit the style and charm brilliantly, providing different tunes, melodies, instruments, arrangements and tempos but invoking a similar feeling of relaxation and trance. They’re great tracks as well, introducing artists and different genres to people who may otherwise have missed out.
Indeed, Chime Sharp exudes charm and its personality forms a different game to the norm, but a little of this is lost because it’s a sequel. In the end Chime Sharp is different and engaging, with a great selection of tracks to work through, and is likely to prove a puzzle game you frequently fall back on, but it hasn’t really evolved since 2010.