Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
- DAILY REVIEWS -
Chime Sharp Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Although it's a little unforgiving at times and the best content is locked from the start, Chime Sharp is a worthy follow-up to an underrated puzzle game. I wish the developers would have done more to make the game more accessible to new players, but long-time fans will find a lot to like about this unexpected sequel. Rating: 64%
Chime Sharp
«
Chime Sharp Chime Sharp Chime Sharp Chime Sharp
  • Review Score:

  • B-
There was always something a little odd about Zoe Mode. For one thing, the name sounded more like a top 40 pop princess than video game developer. They also had a wildly inconsistent track record, working on everything from Rock Revolution to You're In the Movies. But when they weren't bouncing around from one publisher to the next making mediocre music games and licensed shovelware, the small UK team created some of the best and most inventive puzzle games of the 21st century.

Zoe Mode first captured my attention with Crush, a little played PSP game where you shift the world from 2D to 3D in order to complete challenges. A few years later, the same team gave us Chime, a deceptively simple puzzle game with an explosive EDM soundtrack. With a charity component baked into the initial release, I hoped and prayed that enough people would buy Chime to warrant a sequel. And thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign, the former creative director at Zoe Mode was able to create the follow-up I've been waiting for.


In a world where you either match three or sort falling blocks, Chime Sharp bucks the trend and marches to the beat of its own DJ. You are laying down different shapes in a mad attempt to cover 100% of the playfield. You do this by creating boxes that are at least three blocks wide or tall, and then try to build onto it before the beatline zaps it away. It's a simple idea, but you don't have any time to hesitate. The timer is always counting down and there's a lot of area to cover.

Completing these stages will not only open up new songs to play, but will also unlock Chime's newest modes. Here you'll discover both Sharp and Strike modes, which mix up the puzzles and offer an added challenge. Unfortunately, the game doesn't do much to explain these modes. In fact, the game never bothers explaining anything. Perhaps they'll add a tutorial at some point, but Chime Sharp expects you to be motivated enough to figure everything out on your own.

Much like the original, the music is the real star. While the soundtrack doesn't feature some of the bigger EDM stars found in the first game, they do have a nice mix of both known and up-and-coming musicians. We're treated to electronic hits from Kavinsky, CHVRCHES, Steve Reich, Message To Bears, Andy Hung, Magic Sword and more. I'm not a big fan of this style of electronica, but I largely enjoyed the songs selected for Chime Sharp.

Chime Sharp (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

While the gameplay is incredibly simple, earning the extra songs will prove to be a real challenge. I was surprised by how much effort it took to fully complete some of the earlier stages, and hearing the same high-tempo dance music over and over until I got it right only made things worse. There are only a few stages open from the get-go, so players will need to either master the basics in a hurry or get used to hearing the same songs on a loop.

I suspect the difficulty will be the thing that turns most people off. As rewarding as it is to cover up the entire stage, this seemingly simple task can prove to be a real headache. It took me quite a few hours to unlock everything, and even then, some of those success stories came from dumb luck. It certainly feels like the barrier to unlock stages should have been set a little lower, especially early on.

On a more positive note, I enjoyed the new art style. Instead of everything looking flat and 2D, there's a nice raised effect that gives the visuals some much needed depth. Unfortunately, the graphics don't change much between songs. We'll see a different color scheme and a shift in the background, but that's about it. It would have been nice to see more variety in the visuals, sort of like what Lumines did from one song to the next.

Chime Sharp (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

On that note, it's a shame Chime Flat didn't make the cut. There was a proposed retro version that didn't earn enough money through crowdfunding and doesn't show up in this package. I can't hold that against the developers, but it would have been cool to try out a more old school variation. Perhaps strong sales will help resurrect this 2D version.

Although it's a little unforgiving at times and the best content is locked from the start, Chime Sharp is a worthy follow-up to an underrated puzzle game. I wish the developers would have done more to make the game more accessible to new players, but long-time fans will find a lot to like about this unexpected sequel.
comments powered by Disqus