Review – Chime
Fun with bricks.
I hate reviewing puzzle games. They are always much of a muchness and with no plot to speak of and gameplay mechanics that are always a variation of either Tetris, Columns or Sokoban, usually a review more closely resembles a tutorial with a few opinions thrown in.
Well, that’s one paragraph down anyway. I’m on a roll.
So what is Chime then and, more importantly, why do you need this game in your life? Well, the obvious points of reference here are Lumines (but with a point to it, pricing that won’t leave you needing counselling and some actual challenge) meets Tetris (but with no gravity).
You are tasked with placing various shapes on an empty grid. If you can manage to create a 3×3 square, it will become a ‘quad’. Quads have an internal timer that can be reset by further growing the quad (adding to it so that it becomes a larger square or rectangle which will in turn increase your score).
When the internal timer runs out, the quad disappears and the area behind it becomes covered. Success in this game usually involves maximising your coverage so you want to create big quads everywhere in order to do that. Getting 50% coverage on a level opens up the next one in the set of five.
Another way to gain points is to increase your multiplier. This is achieved by creating independent quads. As you won’t be creating perfect quads, there will be bricks left over. These are called ‘fragments’ and they get brighter as a bar sweeps across the screen. After a few sweeps, any unused fragments eventually disappear which kills your multiplier (but also clears up the screen for you).
There’s the rules in a nutshell â€“ and explained better than the rather lacking in-game instructions. Once you’ve got that side of things sorted, it’s time to start hunting down achievements and leaderboard bragging rights. Balancing out your quad size, multipliers and coverage is the key here and, like any good puzzler, it helps to get into the fabled ‘zone’ which is made easier thanks to the stunning dancey/trancey soundtrack (featuring donated tracks by Paul Hartnoll, Moby and other artistes). This is taken to a further level as the sweeping on-screen bar ‘plays’ any bricks that are placed on the screen – yep, this is one of them music puzzler things even if the music side of things has little effect on the gameplay.
Well Chime is the first game I’ve ever played where part of the cost of buying it goes towards a charity so that’s all good and nice. But the thing is I can’t make my mind up whether this game is great or not, there are only a few levels and no real sense of progression as once you’ve seen one level you’ve pretty much seen everything this game has to offer.
However it’s one of those rare games where it’s dead easy to pick up and you can sink a couple of hours into it and not even notice, particularly if you get into a bit of a groove with the music, which is lovely.
Whilst the basic concept of it is a bit confusing, once you get into the swing of it the game is strangely addictive and the urge to just get all the background filled in is strong.
The problem though is that at the end of the day I just can’t help but think this game would be more suited to a handheld console or mobile phone as opposed to a home console.
Secondary Score: 6/10
Arguably the best things about Chime are the price (400M$P â€“ a lesson to the majority of XBLA publishers) and the fact that all profits from the game go to charity. If that doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy, nothing will. In an age where we, as gamers, are being literally bummed in our faces by games publishers, this mixture of charity and sensible pricing means that there is no excuse for you to avoid this game.
The truth though is that Chime is worth more than 400M$P anyway. The gameplay steals hours from you, the music is mostly fantastic and it looks great – although the minimalist interface does have an uncanny knack of completely getting in the way. A few more levels, a better tutorial and a bit less fannying about with bastardly hard achievements (well, one) would make this even more essential but not buying it would make you a ridiculously stingy wronghead and you don’t want that… do you?