Review: Chime

Chime, OneBigGame’s philanthropic charity title is a shining star for Xbox Live Arcade. Conceived almost entirely from kind hearted benevolence, the quirky cross between Lumines and Tetris is a staggering inventive gem of a game made all the more potent with the knowledge that your 400 points have been incredibly well spent. Buy Chime, help children – and get 50 Gamerscore just for doing so.

The premise is simple: fill up the grid by arranging pre-set shapes into ‘quads’ – squares made up of the various blocks – whilst simultaneously interacting with the background music.  Each shape you place triggers a sample from the current track, synced with an omnipresent ‘beat bar’ that keeps things in check.  Quads are the key to completing the game’s grids, as once the beat bar passes them they’re locked in place.

Once ‘activated’, a simple combo chain starts and if you can add to any currently illuminated quad the timer will reset and you’ll get exponentially more points.  Once the combo expires that quad will contribute towards the overall percentage completion for the grid, and then melt into the background so you can re-use the same space for future quad development.  A clever idea that means you’re never stuck.

– ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW –

Which is handy, because floating bits of blocks that don’t make up the quads are seen as a negative, and come with their own penalty – fail to shape any extraneous segments into new quads and they’ll eventually die off, losing any multiplier you had going.  Thus, Chime is all about forward planning and the ability to move these initially odd looking shapes into perfect rectangles as neatly and quickly as possible.

It’s clever, because it’s a fresh take on the genre and although 100% completion is a tricky prospect on the shorter time limits (you can pick how long you wish to play for) it’s a good way to move up the game’s leaderboards.  Naturally, one massive quad-shaped block will ultimately net you a considerable point advantage but there’s enough give in the mechanics to enable most to forge their own tactics.

Naturally, being synced to music is a smart touch, too – Philip Glass’s introductory score isn’t as heavyweight as the likes of Paul Hartnoll’s “For Silence” or the immediately recogniseable and rather fitting “Ooh Yeah” from Moby, which works wonderfully as you slowly piece together the track block by block.  Sound effects are keyed in nicely, too, and fit the organically growing music as well as you’d hope.

Control is quick and responsive, each level manages to bring its own new puzzle piece, loading is super fast and the UI in general is slick but inobtrusive.  There really isn’t much to dislike about Chime and although there’s only five music tracks to the game (and thus, only five levels) the online scoreboards and the game’s timeless ‘free mode’ open up presumably limitless additional playtime.  A triumph.

Pros:

  • Excellent fun
  • Great music
  • Nice mechanics

Cons:

  • There’s only five levels

Chime, then, is a charming title – it’s inexpensive, but knowingly so (the game doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not) and yet is packed with more charisma and likeability than most of the fluff currently populating the various online marketplaces.  By being so streamlined and so specific, Chime has managed to excel at everything it set out to do.  For puzzle fans, this is pretty much essential, and it’s only 400 points.

Score: 9/10

– PAGE CONTINUES BELOW –