Chime Sharp Review

Posted February 21, 2017 by Josh Brant in Video Games

Developer: Ground Shatter

Publisher: Chilled Mouse

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC

The original Chime was released back in 2010 to little fanfare, so it’s surprising we received any type of sequel at all, and spoiler alert, be thankful we did. Chime Sharp released last year on the PC and is finally making it’s way to consoles due to a failed KickStarter campaign where the console versions could not release with the PC version. The title can be described as taking the best elements of Lumines and a bit of Tetris to great effect, making a frantic yet relaxing puzzler which very well could consume your life.

Pentominoes Express

Chime Sharp’s beauty and elegance is in its simplicity, a game which never transcends the complexity of a simple shape-matching toy, yet is enthralling enough to sink hours into. The shapes are reminiscent of Tetris, but instead of controlling the pieces as they fall, you can place them as you like on a 2D board. There are different boards, each with designs and obstacles, as well as different variations of the shapes to work with. Your objective is to get a high score by making blocks, or “quads” and expanding them before they time out and get brushed away by the ever-present timer. Your completed quads leave an impression on the ground though and your goal revolves around trying to cover the entire map with the square/rectangular completed structures.

The timer can be measured by the speed of the “sweeper” which sweeps across the stage to the cadence of the music beat. When the sweep line crosses one of these rectangles it causes a few things to happen. First, it adds an additional phrase to the background music. You will also score points based on the size of the rectangle. After the line passes through it the rectangle will begin to fade out, but you can prevent it from disappearing by building on to it and increasing its size before it disappears; the catch being that to save it you must maintain a rectangular shape. Maintaining multiple rectangles increases your bonus multiplier so you will need to try to keep as many rectangles in play at once as possible, and with each piece you will need to decide which rectangle to build onto or whether you should start building a new one with the piece instead.

It sounds easy at first, and in reality, Chime Sharp manages to be a puzzle game which is simple to understand and accessible to all, but once you have had a few rounds you can see how deep and rewarding the gameplay loop can be. Of course, understanding and putting these skills into practice is a different beast if its own, and so to be great requires patience and a good eye to manage to hit the 100% coverage before the time runs out.

Methodical Calculations

New songs and modes are unlocked per song, with 40% needed for the next song unlock and 60% for the next mode for the particular song. These unlocks add factors in keeping Chime Sharp exciting across its 20+ tracks/levels on offer. The multiple game modes for each song adds depth, meaning players have to learn different speeds, shapes, and grid layouts to find the perfect approach for each stage to gain the best scores possible.

After completing the Standard mode, Sharp mode is a mode which is not timed, but instead penalizes you for the little pieces which are left behind on the periphery of the rectangles you build once they disappear. You will have a short amount of time to create a new rectangle using the flashing leftover pieces, and if you fail to do so you will lose a square on what amounts to a health bar. Once you run out of squares on the health bar, the round ends. Sharp mode adds more of a challenge than the default mode as you have to be careful about which pieces you use to complete and grow your rectangles. Having too many left over pieces scattered about the grid is a quick way to fail in this mode.

To round out the modes, Strike mode occupies the opposite end of the spectrum, giving the player a static 90-second time limit to score as many points as possible, demanding frantic precision and instinctive play. Finally, players who achieve 100% coverage of a level in Standard mode are rewarded with a unforgiving Challenge mode, in which a unique set of blocks are provided in a set order, with 100% grid coverage being the goal.

Keep Up With The Beats

Fortunately, while Chime Sharp plays wonderfully, it manages to be a visual treat too, with a minimalist, but clear and colorful design remaining interesting without throwing too much in your face. The music is also where this title truly shines, with a perfect selection of diverse songs which appropriately mould with the game’s aesthetics. The soundtrack range from the chiptunes music by Chipzel, to the electronica influenced CHVRCHES, with many other influential artists rounding out the package. It will no doubt tempt you to bob your head to the catchy beats, and a puzzle game like this needs you to enjoy the music to buy into the experience. Especially when the music interacts with the positioning of blocks and builds itself from a single sample to a melody and then finally into the full song as you get closer to filling all the grid. It gives off a sense you are creating the music, building the song yourself until it flourishes into full swing as each time bar passes over your creation, making for one satisfying experience reminiscent of the greater elements of Rez Infinite.

Overall, it’s a shame more people will most likely not even hear about this fantastic, mesmerizing puzzler. This title hits all the high notes necessary to make an addicting and satisfying gameplay loop which is neither too hard, nor too easy. The simplicity of the mechanics may draw people off, but even amidst the heavy hitters, don’t miss out on this enthralling experience.

About the Author

Josh Brant

I love God, my family, friends, sports, and the greatest hobby of all: video games! You can reach me on twitter @minusthebrant.