What happens when you get sent a review code to a sequel of a cult classic game from the previous consoles generation, one that you have heard great things about, but one that you actually never really played…… Well you royally suck at it. Welcome to Chime Sharp on Xbox One.
The weird thing is, I remember the original Chime on XBLA on Xbox 360 (It was also on PS3 and later on PC), I had a friend who always said ‘Chime is MY JAM’, he loved it and always recommend it, but for some reason, I never got round to trying it, and here is where it gets difficult in the follow up Chime Sharp, it feels like the game expects you to know what you’re doing!
It’s a difficult experience to come straight into, and does actually make itself a bit of a stressful mindfuck for any new player like myself. Here I saw the menu and loading icons and instantly thought this was some sort of Tetris spin off, so my mindset went straight into Tetris mode, and even though to a degree it has elements of Tetris, mainly the block shapes with the likes of the T-Shape, Z-Shapes Et al, the purpose of the game here is different.
Again this might be the case as I’m a newbie to the series, but considering that the original Chime came out in 2007, there will be certain people that wasn’t even old enough at the time to game, never played the first, or even now in this generation of gaming for the first time and wants to give Chime Sharp a go, but honestly, its a daunting experience from the get go.
The game-play here is that you place blocks of various shapes with the aim to create solid 3×3 or bigger shapes (quads as they are called in Chime Sharp), and to clear the grid/tiles that your formed solid blocks lay on, there are no tiles dropping from the sky like Tetris, you can place your many, many, many blocks anywhere you want, as long as you use them to create quads to fill the background grid before you time runs out or you run out of lives. However that’s also a problem I had when I first started, how to pass the level.
You initially can only select standard play which is the only game mode available (apart from practice) and apart from telling you to create those 3×3 blocks or more to get points and time bonus, you are not actually sure how to complete the level. Yes you lay the blocks to create bigger solid blocks, but am I suppose to be doing something else, it doesn’t actually tell me otherwise. This is when you find out, after various play through’s that yes its just place blocks, these solid blocks remove after time (for some reason I don’t know why, plus sometimes lingering single blocks will stay), and then the tile that these block were on ‘clear/change colour slightly’ and this adds up to the stage percentage which is required to be cleared to be passed or to unlock something else.
Completing this though as mentioned can be hard, and its especially apparent when the colours of the grid against the colours of the blocks and the colours of the completed grids always seem to clash and it can really mix you up during you game-play, as you have to think that extra second which could ruin your progress and bring the game over screen more times than not.
The game in general, overall its a bit of a sparse affair. There are 16 different levels you you can unlock along the way, These levels have an underlying musical track, which numerous musicians have come on board to give their talent to the game.
Those who composed and/or performed the tracks were; Tom Rowland, Los, Chipzel, Andy Hung, Message to Bears, Jerome Alexander, Timothy Schmalz, Magic Sword, Shirobon, A Mote of Dust, Living Phantoms, Luc Grey, Noveller, Haiku Salut, Symbion Project, Kavinsky, Steve Reich, and the ever popular and up and coming band, Chvrches. Within each level ‘track’ there are 4 different game types which throw up different pass requirements. You only have access to the other 3 selections away from standard mode if you actually pass that game type beforehand or a set requirement for example clear 60% of the board on standard mode and you unlock the next mode called Sharp,
Its a little annoying, with the pass requirements and time limit on levels, you can really feel rushed when playing, and it doesn’t make it a fun experience to play at times, especially with the fact if you’re not good enough, other aspects of the game are locked away. I understand for many people that should be the purpose that the harder the game the more you have access to, but to have so much behind a barrier of the game itself, all dependent on skill, then its a little bit of a kick in the nuts.
The use of audio is what the original Chime was known for and even though its one of the staples of what Chime Sharp is about, it actually doesn’t make any difference in your completion of a level, you could play Chime Sharp muted if you were so inclined, and to be honest depending how good you are, you might do that at certain points.
The reason why I say that is that the background music will continuously play on each level, but additional instruments or chimes will play depending on what you have laid on the grid and the quads that are created, this in effect can cause an annoyance as sometimes there feels to be so many different pieces of music playing at once, that it just doesn’t sound great even to my unmusical ears. The backing tracks themselves on their own are really quite nice to listen to and even relaxing at times, but throw in these additional chimes due to your laid works, and well, its like me on a guitar…piss poor. Its a nice feature, and something that works well, but feels like its suck a big aspect of Chime Sharp that I wish it was implemented for more of a reason.
It might feel like you are adding something to the game, but you’re not making any difference here at all, and you will end up hearing the same track over and over again that it will get to a point in time where you have to concentrate so much to pass certain levels, that the background sounds mix just downright gets on your nerves.
Once you actually start playing through more and more of Chime Sharp, and trust me you’ll have to if you want to ‘unlock’ more of the actual game, you start to realise that this is actually a very simple game hindered by some infuriating design choices. You place your shaped blocks, make a solid area, clear the tiles below you, and try and cover as much of the field as possible within the time limit, and then start again if you wasn’t (and most times you are not) good enough.
That’s it. Chime Sharp where daunting on the surface is really just a block puzzle game which unfortunately at times can be too difficult for its own good due to the aforementioned colour schemes clashing. There is good here, and if you go in with the right mindset, and expect that you will have to put a lot of time into the title for not a massive return, then you could end up putting some serious playtime into this title. Me on the otherhand, I’m off for a cuppa tea to take my mind away from seeing every type of font as a shape I can fit together as a quad. I think I’m ruined!