When I was introduced to the original Chime back when Xbox Arcade was still a thing, I was immediately interested by the charming tracks and intuitive puzzling. While only featuring five songs, this budget friendly game boasted hours upon hours of play for fans of both rhythm and puzzle games alike. In addition to that, for a limited time 100% of the games sales went to charity, and developers Zoe Mode continued to donate a portion of the sales after the set date. Chime Super Deluxe was later released on the Playstation 3, adding additional tracks to the new release, but now players have a full-fledged sequel to drool over. To my utter delight, Chime Sharp, the sequel to the charming original, is here and better than ever. The developers at Chilled Mouse absolutely crushed it.
Chime, in essence, is a tetromino game. So like Tetris, you need to piece together blocks in a certain requested way. In Chime Sharp, you need to build “quads”, which are 3x3 connections or bigger. From these quads you can continue to add and build a bigger shape, but within a set amount of time before its stops accepting pieces. While you build these shapes across differently shaped grids, a bar crosses the screen. This bar activates beats and tunes from the music, which are all generated from the position of your blocks, making the music come to life in an original way. This is where the game strays from something like Tetris and leans a bit more towards Lumines in terms of feel. All the tracks are refreshing and energetic, and the way you help compose them just brings them to life in a way that is hard to describe but begs to be discovered.
You can discover these tracks across five different modes. The most basic is Practice, where you can flesh out the pace and pieces of a track with no underlying time limit or challenge. Standard mode is where you will learn the basic feel of the games core, fighting a ticking clock while earning time bonuses, all while aiming for 100% grid completion. From this point you can begin another fresh grid, going to 200%, 300% and so on. Following this mode is Sharp, same as the sequels namesake, in which there is no time limit but you do have lives and certain restrictions. The last two, Challenge and Strike, are where the real challenges lie. Strike is an increased speed mode, while Challenge sets you up with a limited amount of pieces to complete the grid. The amount of variety within these modes works great for a puzzle game of this nature, allowing players to test their skills in a variety of ways without quickly burning through the features.
Additionally, the game boasts a 16 track set list. This is a big step up from the standard five in the original. Though I was unfamiliar with nearly all the artists on hand, there is a boatload of talent featured. The only artist I knew from outside the game is Chvrches, whom happen to be one of my favorite artists in recent years. Though their featured track “Science and Visions” would not have been my choice from their portfolio (I would have went with something a bit more energetic), it is still great to see them featured, as they seem to be a growing part of the gaming community (they played live during the 2015 Game Awards). The remaining 15 tracks range from pulse pounding energy and relaxing rhythms, to tracks that have that special magic feel. Not many puzzle titles can make you zone out while being so zoned in the way Chime Sharp does, it’s a rather refreshing feeling to be able to simultaneously praise the puzzles and the music that various brilliant people designed.
Chime Sharp is the unexpected sequel I always wanted, and I could not be more happy with the results. After clearing each song, there is still so much more under the surface. The game is a great way to kill some time and unwind, never inducing stress but always testing you in great ways. If you are a fan of good music and tetromino styled puzzle games, Chime Sharp is the ultimate must have. I implore you to pick it up, and its predecessors, if you have not already. You wouldn’t want to miss a beat would you?
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 9/10
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