Chime Review: Tune In, Drop OutS

There are plenty of games around that are built to be played any time. There are few, sadly, that specialise in being played under select conditions. Like if you're stressed. Or have stumbled home from the pub at 3am.

A puzzle game we've featured previously on Kotaku, Chime may at first glance appear familiar. You have blocks of different shapes that have to be placed in order to make them disappear. So far, so Tetris. Yet there's also a strong musical influence in the game, apparent not only in the consistency of the tunes, but in the way the music is shaped to serve the puzzles. So far, so Lumines.

But such direct comparisons are unfair. Chime is something else. Can it even be something better?

Loved
Take Your Time - Other puzzle games of this ilk are stressful. Time, and a collection of blocks, are arrayed against you, your skills in a never-ending race against their size and speed. Chime is not stressful. It's as far from stressful as you can imagine. Yes, there are time limits to the levels, but you can choose one that's 9-minutes long, which is an eternity. Then once playing, because the blocks do not fall - you're given direct control of them and can place them wherever you like on the level - you're free to kick back, take your time, enjoy the music and place the blocks at your leisure.

Level Playing Field - Because the challenge here comes from placing the blocks yourself, rather than reacting to them falling down, Chime has to go beyond the standard rectangular playing field. As you progress through the game's levels, you'll find the "maps" becoming more complex, requiring some great strategy on how best to approach them, and which pieces work best in which situations. It's perhaps the best example of how the game manages to forge its own unique path in the genre.

Music To My Fingers - I'll often refrain from praising something like this, down to the fact music in games can be such a subjective thing, but the way Chime's chilled-out soundtrack (featuring the likes of Orbital & composer Philip Glass) not only compliments the tone of the game, but helps shape your own mood to that required to play it, is worth mention.

Admittedly, as a simple puzzle game with only a handful of levels, Chime doesn't do much. But what it does do, it does with such a sense of confidence, of knowing that it's targeting a market and catering to it almost perfectly, that those after a relaxing little Xbox Live chaser in the early hours of the morning would be mad to pass on it.

Chime was developed by Zoe Mode and published by OneBigGame for Xbox Live Arcade. Released on February 3 for $5, with 60% of profits going to charity. Completed all levels on 3, 6 and 9 minute limits. Was happy to see Philip Glass featuring so prominently on a video game soundtrack.

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