Chime Sharp is what I like to call an “open world Tetris”. I hate to draw the comparison that so many do, but it is impossible to avoid. Just like Nioh borrows heavily from Dark Souls, Chime takes some of the great ideas found in some of the best music/puzzle games around and creates something new and fresh.
The premise to Chime is simple. You have a rectangular grid, which is shaped differently with placed blocks in the center which serve as islands of sorts which prevents new blocks from being placed there. Players are tasked with rotating and placing different shaped blocks along this grid in order to fill it out. The other goal is to create quads. This is when you get a group together of at least 3 x 3 which can subsequently be built upon. Getting new quads not only unlocks the rest of the grid faster, but this also keeps your timer up. The second half is essential for standard mode, for once the timer ends the game is over. The intensity builds as you scramble to rotate the shape to the right degree to fill the spot you need to quickly place a block that won’t fit anywhere somewhere, just to get it out of your way and come back to it later.
All during this time you are graced with some very pleasant and other times outright engaging music. For me this is where the heart of Chime lies. The music starts off slow and can remain slow if you fail at placing blocks properly. But when you start to succeed the music swells and new notes are added and an overall depth is presented which brings you along for a ride. Building combos and keep unlocking more of the grid unlocks more of the song and this really serves as a great way to keep you motivated and to stay fast with your fingers.
Chime Sharp consists of 16 levels, all of which is its own song. Most of these are unlocked as you get new high scores or unlock a certain grid percentage. Unlocking a grid percentage of 65% in each level will unlock subsequent game modes, such as Sharp and Challenge. These new modes are interesting and fun. Sharp for example takes away the timer all together. Your only real goal here is to be smart and keep the quads up. If you start a quad and then leave it unfinished as you move on across the grid, as times goes on those unfinished blocks will start flashing. The grid contains a vertical line which moves across it every few seconds. After that passes a few times the blocks will fall off the grid. You can only lose ten before your time is up. This changes the focus of the gameplay and helps to mix things up.
I’ll be honest in saying I am not skillful enough to unlock many of these modes. The learning curve is steep. Granted it may not be that way for all but there is an overall lack of explanation on some of the finer details of gameplay. Perfect Quads for example is a goal in some game modes but I didn’t know what they were. Are they just 3 x 3 cubes or are they quads with no additional outliers attached? Time has indicated to me the latter is correct but the game won’t tell you. There is also a horrible color scheme which can become confusing. Each level is comprised of a different theme which changes up the color pallet which is pretty, but comes at the cost of consistency. Half of the time I became confused as to which shade of blue was which, which determined where I needed to place blocks. This can be a bad deal as timing is so essential. The little variation in color differences was not the best design part in my mind. Aside from that the only other complaint I have is with the abnormally long loading time at the start of the game. We played this on the PS4 Pro and the initial load came in at around 40 seconds. This did not improve after subsequent boot ups either. That being said, there is relatively no additional loading once in game so this is a very minor gripe. I suppose this just stuck out since this tends to be someone’s first impression with a game.
The bottom line here is that Chime Sharp is a wonderful addition to the serious and can completely stand on its own for others that never played its counterpart on the PS3. The game does have a steep learning curve and can be just downright tough in general, but that is by no means a detractor, just something to be aware about before getting into it. Containing 16 levels with 4 game modes each, there is tons of content for the low price tag on the PSN. If you love music and puzzle games that encourage you to think fast and then reward you with audio feedback then Chime Sharp is the game for you, so feel free to Chime in!
A PS4 review copy of Chime Sharp was provided by Twistplay’s PR team, and the game is available now on Steam, Xbox Live and PSN.