If you owned an Xbox 360 back in 2010 then you probably played Chime. The unique puzzler captured the imaginations of genre enthusiasts and casual gamers alike. Now that this new take on the classic is out, is it sharp enough to stand on its own?
For those unfamiliar with Chime, you basically place pieces composed of five square units each in order to form rectangles that are at least 3 by 3 units. This sounds extremely simple and it is but the fact that the pieces are so large and often complex makes being able to fit them together quite a tricky endeavor. Thankfully, whenever you make a successful rectangle, you can add to it before its timer expires. Every time you extend it, the timer resets so if you think fast and keep adding pieces, you can create quite a large monstrosity. The music is almost nonexistent at the beginning of each stage but as you progress, it evolves into a fuller sound as notes play according to where you place pieces. It's very reminiscent of Lumines in this regard. Anyway, its distinct, simplistic, and challenging gameplay makes it a very addictive puzzler.
Chime is known for its fantastic soundtrack and Sharp is no exception. You'll experience interactive music from the legendary minimalist composer Steve Reich, the indie synthpop group Chvrches, chiptune artists Chipzel and Shirobon, Magic Sword of Hotline Miami 2 fame, the folktronica trio Haiku Salut, the avant-garde guitarist Noveller, French house musician Kavinsky, and the chillout artist CFCF. With 16 total tracks that each corresponds to its own stage, you're looking at one impressive soundtrack. If you're into discovering new artists and expanding your music library (like me) then Chime Sharp is a definite must-buy for its soundtrack alone. The visuals are phenomenal, too, with a level of finesse that goes above and beyond what you'd expect from the genre in its psychedelic simplicity.
It pleases me to say that you can enjoy all 16 stages within a handful of modes. Timed modes test how high of a score you can get given a time limit. If you do well, your time will extend thus allowing you to climb the leaderboards even higher. There are both Standard and Challenge variations of this with the latter having a complex grid, less pieces, and more traditional rules. If you need to hone your skills or get used to a set of pieces then playing Practice mode will help you get into the swing of things. Sharp mode removes the time limit but has a life system that stray squares eventually deplete. Finally, Strike mode is basically a 90 second time attack that forces you to play super-fast and efficiently as stray squares take away from your coverage score. Although these new modes add some welcome variety, it's disappointing that there are no multiplayer modes. Chime Super Deluxe for PlayStation 3 featured both competitive and cooperative local multiplayer and it was great fun to be able to play with a friend but neither of these modes are available here.
To wrap things up, I must admit that I'm a bit disappointed by the fact that Chime Sharp doesn't do much to reinvigorate the gameplay as it remains mostly the same as the original game that released seven years ago. You'd expect a sequel to do something fresh with the gameplay besides just add some modes that frankly don't bring anything new and exciting to the table. Along these same lines, replay value almost entirely consists of achieving high scores. I would have loved to see a list of challenges to complete and some added unlockables like different graphical themes or sound packs. Instead, you basically progress through the stages while unlocking the previously mentioned modes in each then just keep playing to get high scores and that's about it.
Chime Sharp retains the addictive gameplay of the original yet there are few innovations that make it a worthy sequel. That being said, it's worth adding to your collection for the brilliant soundtrack alone.
- + Same unique addictive gameplay that manages to be both simple and challenging
- + Incredible music and visual finesse
- + Extra modes add some welcome variety
- - Unlike the previous Chime game, there are no multiplayer modes
- - Doesn't do much to evolve the gameplay
- - Replay value relies solely on high scores