I love puzzle games, and when I saw that there was one that doubled as a rhythm game, I couldn’t just ignore it. Chime Sharp beams with originality and creativity, yet I couldn’t help but feel there was a lack of polish. The puzzles are more or less open-ended and create some nice EDM beats as you complete them. I find this to be an unbelievably cool concept, but it doesn’t feel very rewarding in the grand scheme of things, not to mention the painful difficulty that is not kind to new players. I’m not saying that it isn’t fun, though. The game will keep you engaged for hours and will have you saying ‘one more time’ every time you finish a stage. If Tetris followed Darwin’s theory of evolution, you would certainly find Chime Sharp somewhere on the timeline.
It’s very hard to call Chime Sharp a puzzle or rhythm game because it doesn’t have most of the tropes that make up those genres. The goal is to fill up the board with 3x3 blocks that cover the board before time runs out. Doing well results in extra time to complete the stage. However, this can be unbelievably frustrating as the requirements for receiving more time aren’t very clear, not to mention it’s just downright difficult to do without practice. There aren’t any tutorials, hints, or in depth explanations, so I was never really sure how to approach my mistakes without using the trial-and-error method. I definitely think games should provide a good challenge, but it seems like the developers almost expect you to know and understand what to do.
The game lacks much diversity in its design which ultimately means it lacks restriction. When puzzle games lack restriction, the levels start to play too similarly. You have to place blocks according to what you have already placed, rather than following a specific design pattern or puzzle. While that doesn’t sound bad, a little more direction wouldn’t hurt. Even though success required some complex thinking and precise placement of blocks, the challenge was almost completely made by my mistakes.
The visuals are both nice and simple, but they also lack variety. Each of the levels have a grid board that is cut into different shapes with different color schemes. There aren’t any cool background images or interesting effects, but for a simple game like this, it at least gets the job done. The overall design leaves something to be desired as well, considering each stage is more or less the same exact thing with different block types and board layouts. It would have been interesting to see some more dynamic changes with the way you use the blocks, or something that tries to impede your progress. Either way, the simple design does work. I wish that there was more extra content, though.
I can’t talk about a music game without mentioning the music, of course. You get to play through quite a large selection of EDM tracks by both well-known and underground artists. The interesting part about the music in this game is that it gradually plays more of the beat as you complete more tiles on the board. Your reward for clearing the board is being able to listen to the whole piece, so it will definitely motivate you to keep trying.
The tracking order is a bit strange, with the first stage having very light and natural sound that I didn’t quite enjoy. I only played the first three tracks before taking a break, and when I did, I didn’t find myself wanting to go back. As I unlocked tracks, I found myself liking the music more. This on top of the brutal difficulty had me quite discontented with the game. It wasn’t until I forced myself for the sake of the review that I started playing again, and as I went on I found that the track selection got better. The game was still very difficult, but the sound (and my pride) was the one thing that kept me going back for more.
Chime Sharp is like that old bicycle you’ve left in your garage for the past few years: the framework is solid, but the tires are flat. You take out your old hand-pump that barely works and start pumping away, and after all of the energy spent on that you can finally ride free. Perhaps my analogy is a bit cheesy, but it’s the truth. This game will not offer you a helping hand, so if you want to succeed, you’d best be prepared to put in a lot of effort. It might look a little bland, but it’s certainly not a bad way to spend some of your time. Honestly, if you’re a fan of electronic music and have a lot of patience, those are good reasons to try it.
Most of my time is dedicated to tearing apart games and movies, then telling you what I think about it. I've been a gamer since birth, practically born with a controller in my hand. I've always spoke my mind, so critique was a natural fit. Twitter: @Jsrf38