Chime Sharp is the successor to the 2010 puzzle game Chime, which released on the Xbox 360 as well as a number of other platforms. It follows the same basic rules and has a similar appearance but has been expanded and upgraded in several key areas. With the multitude of puzzlers available across the Xbox One, though, is it worth your time and money?
The answer is almost definitely yes. The game revolves around you having to make quads using a series of different shaped blocks that have a Tetris-like feel to them. They fit together, change the color of the background and are deleted by a wave that passes through the level in time with the music, with the ultimate goal being to cover the entire grid. As you do this, the music adds more layers and your score increases. This might all sound rather simple but the difficulty and challenge come from the fact that there are a variety of different stages for you to unlock that feature extra rules and obstacles.
While it may seem like a game to be played in short bursts, which is certainly the impression I first got, it quickly becomes clear that Chime Sharp has a very addictive quality. Sessions that you were only intending to play for a few minutes can easily stretch to an hour or two thanks to the “just one more go” mentality that comes from almost beating your score or unlocking the next level. As you need to reach a certain percentage of coverage for most of the game modes, it is easy to feel compelled to try again when you can not only see the counter in the top right corner but visibly see how much of the board you have covered with each attempt.
While most of the game takes place in the normal mode that has been described above, there are a few others to sink your teeth into. These come in the form of Sharp, Strike, and Challenge. They each unlock when you have reached certain requisites, usually involving getting a score of 60% on the previous mode. They offer an extra spice of variety and increase the difficulty significantly.
Both Strike and Challenge mode are just expanded versions of Normal mode. In Strike, you have to cover as much of the map as possible in a strict 90 second time period- something that requires lightning fast decision making and placement. Challenge mode meanwhile is simply a harder version of Normal that changes the board to make it harder to make your quads and mixes up the shapes on offer.
The biggest change comes in Sharp mode. Here you don’t have to consider a time limit of any kind. Instead, you are working with a set of lives. These lives disappear when you create quads that leave extra shapes behind, forcing you to ensure that you use every single fragment as often as possible so that extras are not left on the screen. Lives can be replenished by getting a perfect quad (essentially making a quad that is completely symmetrical and uses the complete shapes that make it). These are hard to accomplish, though, making it important to save lives as much as you can. It’s a more thoughtful mode than the others due to the lack of time limit but is perhaps the most difficult to beat.
For the most part, Chime Sharp proves to be a fun and addictive game but there are a few minor issues. It is lacking in terms of visuals and some of the color schemes will likely cause you a few problems as they clash together, making it difficult to see exactly where you have already covered. There is also the problem of the difficulty seeming to spike in unforeseen places as the levels don’t necessarily get harder in the order they are unlocked.
Arguably the biggest gripe is the lack of a multiplayer mode that it’s PlayStation 3 predecessor had. The gameplay perfectly suits the type of fast-paced multiplayer action that you can quickly challenge your friends to and even a local multiplayer mode would have been a very welcome addition. This might somewhat limit the appeal to some players and definitely reduces the replayability of the title to some degree.
As you might expect from a game that has a distinct focus on music, Chime Sharp has a well-built soundtrack with a different song for each of the 12 levels. The songs included aren’t exactly spectacular, yet they do the job very well. Most of the tunes are electronic based and as mentioned earlier, the different tracks will expand as you progress through a level and cover more of the board. A few great tracks make up for the one or two that are not quite as memorable, with each adding some excitement and tension as you approach your objectives.
Ultimate, Chime Sharp delivers great value for money. The 12 different levels and the four game modes mean the game has plenty of longevity, especially when you consider how hard some of them are. It will likely take upwards of ten hours just to unlock most of the content, never mind beating it, but the fun gameplay ensures that this is not a chore. If you previously played Chime then this is more of the same, though, even those that haven’t should give this a try.
This review is based on a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher for review purposes. Chime Sharp is currently available on Xbox One, PlayStation4, and PC for $9.99.