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Chime Sharp Review

If you played 2010’s Chime, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from its sequel. Chime Sharp is more of the same – but when the original was so good, that really isn’t a bad thing.

Chime Sharp, just like its predecessor, is a combination of a block puzzle game and a rhythm game. At first glance it’s akin to the likes of Tetris; you’re presented with an endless supply of randomly-shaped blocks and it’s your job to fit them together. Unlike Tetris however, where you must create lines out of your blocks, Chime asks you to create squares or oblongs. The goal is to create squares – or ‘quads’, as the game calls them – over the entirety of the grid to fill as much of it as possible. You start with a timer of two minutes, but this gets extended by good performance. The game ends when you run out of time or when you complete the grid – although it’s most likely the former. Chime is hard.

Chime Sharp is more of an extension to the original Chime than anything else – its core gameplay remains untouched, but it has the addition of a couple of new game modes, which I’ll get to later. It features a new roster of twelve music tracks too, which make the basis for each level. Music is the backbone of the game; as you place blocks on your grid, beats will get added to the track, and the tempo of the music dictates how fast gameplay will be. The faster the song, the more frenetic Chime gets.

I was almost tempted to describe Chime Sharp as a zen puzzler – until I actually spent a bit of time in the game. While it can be relaxing at first, especially playing in the ‘practice’ mode with no time limit, it soon gets stressful as you try and fit shapes into an already cluttered grid, fighting against the clock. It’s completely addictive though; you will be compelled to play the same levels again and again. There’s not exactly a fail state as such; although you’ll need to complete a certain amount of the grid to unlock the next level, you don’t need to completely fill the grid in order to ‘win’. Chime Sharp is more about getting the highest score. You can chase your own high scores, or you can visit the leaderboard and pit yourself against your friends and other players internationally. No matter how well you do, there’s always the chance that you could do a bit better, and that alone will keep you hooked to Chime for several hours at a time.

Along with the normal gameplay mode, Chime Sharp has three others: ‘Sharp’, ‘Strike’ and ‘Challenge’. Sharp mode unlocks on a level when you’ve completed 60% of the grid in normal mode, Strike unlocks when you’ve completed 60% of the grid in Sharp mode, and Challenge unlocks when you’ve fully completed normal mode. Let’s be honest; unless you’re really good at the game, you’ll have serious trouble unlocking Challenge, but it’s yet another incentive to keep picking it up and having ‘just one more go’.

Sharp mode is perhaps the most difficult, but also the most enjoyable mode of all four. Unlike normal mode, there’s no timer, but it tasks you with using all of your shapes. When you make a quad, it’ll disappear, but it’ll leave fragments behind if some bits of your shape didn’t go into making the square. If you leave these fragments for too long, they’ll fall, and you lose a life for each one. It’s about thinking logically and pragmatically, and taking your time to use your shapes in the best possible way.

Strike mode, on the other hand, is completely fast and furious. You get 90 seconds on the clock, and you’ve got to fill as much of the board as you can. It’s hard; 90 seconds goes by astonishingly fast when you’re trying to speed-rotate shapes, but it’s a nice change of pace if for some reason the normal mode isn’t quite challenging enough for you.

The final mode, Challenge, is an extension of normal mode, but, as its name suggests, is more challenging (d’uh). There’s a trickier board to complete and a more limited palette of shapes to choose from, making you think even harder about where to place them.

See me play a level of Chime Sharp‘s normal mode in the video below:

For as fun and utterly addicting as Chime Sharp is, however, I do have one main gripe with it: the choice of colour scheme on some of the levels is pretty hard to bear. A number of the levels use garish, brash colours that clash with one another, sometimes making it difficult to see where your shapes are placed – and other times just making it rather painful to look at your screen. Every time I’ve played it, I’ve come away with a bit of a headache. More complimentary colours that stand out against each other would have gone down much better.

My only other slight complaint is that the difficulty of the levels is all over the place. You’d expect that the first level would be the easiest, with the others gradually getting more challenging, but it seems completely random dependant on the song. Some levels give you more obscure shapes that are harder to place, but again, these seem to be mostly random too. A bit of difficulty progression would have been nice with regards to each individual level, but I suppose that’s what the unlockable modes are there for.

These are both just minor issues however – and even a bit of a headache wasn’t enough to keep me away from trying to best my scores on Chime Sharp. The 12 music tracks on offer are varied and fit the game perfectly, and the new game modes are a very welcome addition that will definitely give Chime Sharp some serious longevity. After six or seven hours on the game I’ve still only unlocked Sharp and Strike mode on two levels (but that likely is because I’m not particularly good…) so I’ve got plenty more hours in store for me. Put simply, if you enjoyed Chime, then you’ll love Chime Sharp. Anybody who enjoys a block or tangram-type puzzle would be wise to give it a go.

Chime Sharp is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. We reviewed the Xbox One version.
Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.