Chime ReviewPlatform: PC
, Xbox 360
UK Price (as reviewed): £3.99 inc VAT
US Price (as reviewed): $4.99 exc tax
Chime is the bastard son of Audiosurf and Tetris; a grid-based puzzler where you create music by making shapes out of randomly delivered blocks. Unlike Tetris, your aim in Chime is to make ‘quads’ rather than lines – any whole shape which is bigger than 3x3 squares on the grid that overlays each level. Make a quad and then it will flash for a few seconds before disappearing, with that tiny window allowing you the chance to bolt more shapes on to you quad, making it bigger and scoring more points.
So, where does the music come in? Well, every few seconds a wave passes over the board, sweeping away any completed quads. Every time this beat wave hits a shape on the grid then it adds another sample or level of detail to the background music. Each level has it’s own music too, with tracks from Orbital, Lemon Jelly and Moby standing out as the highlights
The result of all this is that Chime is an incredibly serene and hypnotic experience. Each level starts with nothing but a gentle backing beat before building to a peak and, as untended shape fragments disappear from the board (losing you your score multiplier in the process!), crashing back to a more peaceable state. Every level builds its own chorus’ and verses thanks to this clever linking of aesthetics and mechanics.
If this description leaves you a bit perplexed, fret not. We had the same reaction when we started playing Chime and saw a 12 page long manual that discussed coverage percentages and quad structures. In actual fact though, playing the game is incredibly simple and the tutorial need only say ‘Make squares, hear music, repeat until 3AM’.
At least, that’s the experience we had, as Chime’s hypnotic mixture of bright lights and electric rhythms can easily keep you entertained until you emerge from the game, tired-eyed after blinking for the first time in hours. It’s so fun it becomes very easy to forget the rest of the world even exists; since we started reviewing Chime we’ve dreamt about it regularly. Really.
As if things couldn’t get any better, Chime’s developers, Zoe Mode, is donating five per cent of Chime’s profits to charities such as The Starlight Children’s Foundation and Save The Children.
There are downsides, however – though none of them terminal. The biggest gripe we have with Chime is simply that there aren’t enough different levels or modes to stick your teeth into, which is strange because it’s ripe for expansion. There are only six different songs (and, therefore, levels) included, though getting 100 per cent coverage does unlock additional bonus levels. However, these bonus levels are just repeats of earlier levels with less time on the clock. Mode-wise there’s only the default timed mode, plus a ‘Free mode’ that lets you carry on forever.
Really though, it’s hard to pick too much fault with Chime, as what is on offer is so perfectly and sublimely polished that it shines everything else out of the picture. Plus, at only £4, there’s still an enormous sense of value to be had, even if you only play each level once on the timed mode.
Chime is the most more-ish, sublime and entrancing puzzle game that we’ve played in a long time. There’s a lot more that could have been crammed in, but Chime’s brevity is not only reflected in the price, it also keeps the package as a whole feeling short, sweet and almost divinely focused.
Is Chime fun? Hell, it’s practically digital bliss.