By Fabrice Stellaire / August 11th, 2016
|Developer||Ste Curran, Twistplay|
|Release Date||July 16,2016|
Puzzle games are numerous on Steam, and it’s not always easy to tell which ones are good. In the ocean of indie games available on Steam, Chime Sharp should not remain unnoticed, as it provides a rather clever experience. In 2009, the original game, Chime, served as a rather good entry by bringing out an original concept where the player would have to use pieces in order to assemble quads. The more quads you assemble, the more you unfold the music of the level. While the concept may look simple, the execution is rather challenging and will require a lot of patience and critical thinking.
Chime Sharp uses the same concept as its brother but adds new layers of complexity. You start each level with 3 pentominoes (geometrical shapes made of five squares) and will have access to a total of 7 different pentominoes among the twelve existing in the game. Assembling a quad causes it to shatter and leave a few fragments behind which you will want to get rid of as soon as possible, as they break your combos when they drop from the board.
Fragments certainly make the game difficult, as you have to deal with them knowing your time is limited; the stress caused by lack of time can easily cause you to neglect fragments. Will you neglect a fragment because you want to make more squads and don’t know how to deal with it, or will you sacrifice a few seconds to think more about it and maintain your combo? The easier way to deal with the problem may be to assemble perfect quads, which leave no fragments behind, but beginners will need some time before being able to chain them. When the countdown reaches 0, you earn bonus time which depends on the amount of quads you created. This bonus time will hopefully help you get closer towards completion of the level.
I am going to be honest, I struggled during the dozen of hours I played the game. I am generally average at puzzle games, and I had trouble reaching the mandatory 40% score you need to get to unlock a new level. The game provides little to no tutorial (though the developer recently uploaded an online manual on Steam which helps a bit) and it’s easy to feel confused during the first hours of the game. Maybe that’s because the game also targets hardcore puzzle fans, which can find new challenges by unlocking additional difficulty modes.
Higher difficulty modes are unlocked with high completion rates, which I wasn’t able to obtain, sadly. All I can do is describe them shortly: the Sharp Mode removes the time limit but you lose lives every time fragments drop; the Strike Mode only leaves you 90 seconds to play; and Challenge Mode is the ultimate challenge, with more complex boards and a limited amount of pieces. Those challenges will certainly extend the replay value of the game, though I find the core concept to be a bit repetitive, and would have appreciated a bit of fantasy in it. For example, I thought the game could have random bonuses or penalties that would change the form of pentominoes, add or remove time, etc. But what I see as a flaw may be a benefit for puzzle fans who want to focus on planning and thinking. As far as the music is concerned, they are rather typical of this kind of game and serve the purpose of creating a feeling of tension. I didn’t really adore it, but I didn’t dislike it either. I would say the music matches the philosophy of the game.
Chime Sharp succeeds in providing a challenging puzzle experience which may, however, look a bit tough for beginners. If you are looking for a way to train your brain cells this summer, for $14.99, it is definitely a good choice.
Review copy provided by the publisher.