By: Matthew Striplen
You feelin’ that groove? Yeah man, it’s awesome! Chime Sharp is an unconventional puzzle game based on filling in the puzzle board to complete a song.
First and foremost, Chime Sharp‘s use of music is stellar. At the beginning of each level, only a short clip of the track is heard before it loops. In most cases, this would get stale and repetitive pretty fast, but the game exploits minimalist music so that the slow building process of the songs feels organic.
For the uninitiated/non-music nerds out there, minimalistic music relies on extensive repetition of a simple theme or sounds with gradual changes. Minimalism is very popular in contemporary classical music, but many other genres use the concept as well, such as techno and house.
As seen above, a large white line continuously scans the board. As players add more shapes and create more Quads, or large squares, the line interacts with them, unlocking additional parts of the song. These additional song parts are added in real time, so as soon as the scanner reaches your shapes, you’ll hear more music. It’s really cool to see a game take full advantage of this style.
Chime Sharp provides an unusual mix of music, including assorted EDM tracks and classical minimalist pieces. Juxtaposing similar classical and EDM tracks in games is a fantastic way to expose people to music that they might otherwise overlook. Kudos to you, Chime Sharp.
Now then, how do we actually play this game? If you’re looking for the game to teach you, don’t expect much. The developers instead provide players with a link in the game’s description to a manual. Reading this is extremely important, as many key elements don’t make themselves clear by simply diving into the game.
The goal is to cover the entire board in shapes. Placing shapes closer together forms Quads. After the Quads set, they shatter and cover the board. Be careful though, extra pieces of the shapes that do not fit into your Quads will be left on the board. If you don’t incorporate these fragments into a new Quad, they will shatter and break your multiplier. It’s still a race against the clock, so make sure to hit the time bonuses to keep playing.
There are five different game modes: Practice, Standard, Sharp, Strike and Challenge. All of them will be locked at the beginning except practice and standard. Unlocking the rest requires a certain level of completion in standard mode.
Practice mode, while easier than the rest, doesn’t exactly provide the safe training ground described in the manual. It’s still very easy to lose without completing the board. Additionally, there’s no reward for performing well in the mode, so players are better off practicing at the harder Standard mode. Standard mode, on the other hand, is pretty much the same as Practice, but with a differently shaped board and more challenging shapes.
Sharp eliminates the timer and instead implements a “lives” mechanic. Lives are lost by leaving fragments behind and can only be replaced by creating perfect Quads. Strike gives the player only 90 seconds to complete as much as possible, so move fast! Lastly, Challenge is an extra hard mode, which can only be unlocked by getting 100 percent on a Standard board.
Speaking of difficulty, this game is wickedly hard. If you don’t move fast, you’ll never make enough moves to cover the board, but if you just place shapes haphazardly, the fragments will destroy your game. Getting the required 60 percent on Standard to graduate to Sharp takes tremendous skill, practice and patience — and unfortunately, Practice mode does little to prepare the player for the challenges ahead.
Chime Sharp is a very challenging puzzle game, which cleverly uses minimalistic music to provide incentive for completing the game. The puzzles are quite difficult but always fair, though it may discourage some players. The lack of a good practice mode definitely hurts, but if you’re up for a challenge and some great music, Chime Sharp is worth your time.