Chime Review

Playing music for charity

Chime Review
20th April, 2010 By Ian Morris
Game Info // Chime
Chime Boxart
Publisher: Valcon Games
Developer: Zoe Mode
Players: 1
Available On: Xbox 360
Genre: Puzzle (Falling Blocks)

Someone once said that the best ideas in life are the simple ones. The ones with the intangibles - something that's so obvious, you can't believe no-one would have done it before. In Chime's case, that's not quite true, as pretty much everything it attempts has been done before. A match made in heaven, Chime takes the music making of Lumines, and the block placing and frantic rotation of Tetris, and manages to make it better than ever before. 

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Chime Screenshot

Artists from Philip Glass, to Moby, to Paul Hartnoll have donated tracks for Chime to use. It's a shame there's only one standout amongst them, but it never brings the game down.

Before we get this review properly underway, we need to tell you the most important thing. Chime is a charity game. And it's not some rubbish 1p per sale goes to charity deal either - with Chime, the net proceeds from the sales will all go to charity - and good ones, too. One Big Game - the scheme that bought Chime to Xbox Live Arcade will be donating the money to Save the Children and Starlight - two respectable children's charities that will ensure your money's going to the right place.

The concept behind Chime, as we may have hinted at earlier, is one that's been seen before - although not in quite the same guise as is it here. As the game hands you random shapes, it's up to you place them together, with the intention of making 3 x 3 blocks - somewhat illogically known as quads. Of course, quads can be extended in any direction, and doing so will net you huge bonuses.

Unlike in Tetris, or Lumines, the blocks don't drop down from the sky - instead, you have free control over them, and can place them anywhere you want - kind of like an abstract jigsaw - but one that disappears as you build it.

Chime Screenshot

Later levels give you strangely shaped grids, and differently shaped blocks.

Because the blocks don't drop from the sky, there's no real "game over" - it's actually technically impossible to lose at the game. Instead, you choose a time limit (3, 6 or 9 minutes), and attempt to and achieve "coverage" - that is, to build a quad over every possible part of the grid within the time limit. When you create a quad, and the beat line touches it, the quad will be removed, but its silhouette will be left behind. Cover the entire grid, 100% with silhouettes, and you'll move on to a special "remixed" level, that'll help you build your multiplier, and maximise your score.

Of course, thanks to the music it features, Chime has a strong musical bent, and it makes use of the tracks in several different ways. As the bar crosses the screen, in time with the music, when it highlights the pieces you've placed on the board, it'll play a sound, or a sample. The more crowded your grid - or the more complete your coverage, the more of the song it'll play you.

But perhaps what makes Chime so good is the fact that it all just gels together so well. It wasn't until I sat down now to write my review that I really realised all the little things that Chime does, and how they all work so well. Playing the game, you become mesmerised; the trippy visuals and minimalistic music keeping you entranced as your brain tessellates the shapes as quick as it can. When you go to sleep, much like the Tetris effect, you'll find yourself piecing things together in your minds eye, with the music bouncing around your brain, and you craving another go.

On its own, Chime is an incredible puzzle game, and one we would heartily recommend. At twice the price, it would still be worth it. At less than £3.50, and with the net profits going to charity, we really don't see how you can say no. Unless your name's Scrooge.

Format Reviewed: Xbox 360

StarStarStarStarHalf star
Simple enough in concept, but with enough depth to keep you playing for hours, Chime is simply amazing.
  • +
    Mesmerising, addictive - puzzle gaming at its finest
  • +
    Simple concepts with simple controls make it easy for anyone to pick up and play.
  • +
    Cheap, cheerful, and charitable
  • -
    Only five songs to choose from - which can lead to them getting a bit repetitive.
  • -
    If we were really being picky, we'd say there's not enough variation in the level's colours.
  • -
    Having blocks that are slightly different shapes to those found in Tetris takes some getting used to.
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