Chime Sharp Review
Chime Sharp shares some similarities with Lumines and also a bit with Tetris, so if you've played either of those games you'll have a bit of an idea what Chime Sharp's music-driven, shape manipulation gameplay is like. Each level is played on a rectangular grid on which a vertical line sweeps across it horizontally in time with the background music. You're given a series of puzzle-like shapes to place on the grid. Your goal is to create 3x3 squares with these shapes, and then to expand those squares into ever larger rectangles.
When the sweep line crosses one of these rectangles it causes a few things to happen. First, it adds an additional phrase to the background music. You'll also score points based on the size of the rectangle. After the line passes through it the rectangle will begin to fade out, but you can prevent it from disappearing by building on to it and increasing its size before it disappears - the catch being that to save it you must maintain a rectangular shape. Maintaining multiple rectangles increases your bonus multiplier so you'll need to try to keep as many rectangles in play at once as possible, and with each piece you'll need to decide which rectangle to snap it to or whether you should start building a new one with it instead.
Another consideration is board coverage. Once a shape has been placed on the board, the squares beneath that shape will become permanently darkened. You'll want to try to place a shape on as many of the board's squares as possible during the game. First, the mode is timed, but you can extend that time by creating rectangles on previously untouched areas of the board. Second, when you complete the round in addition to your score you'll see the percentage of the board that you were able to cover in that round, and if you reach a set minimum percentage covered you'll unlock new modes for the current level or unlock an additional level.
After completing a round you'll be able to compare your score to your overall high score for the level, as well as compare it against those of other gamers on the leaderboards.
Sharp mode is another game mode that is variation on the ending condition. This mode is not timed, but instead penalizes you for the little pieces that are left behind on the periphery of the rectangles that you build once they disappear. You'll have a short about of time to create a new rectangle using the flashing leftover pieces, and if you fail to do so then you will lose a square on what amounts to a health bar. Once you run out of squares on the health bar, the round ends. Sharp mode adds more of a challenge than the default mode as you have to be careful about which pieces you use to complete and grow your rectangles. Having too many left over pieces scattered about the grid is a quick way to fail in Sharp mode.
The last two modes are the Strike and Challenge modes. Strike plays like the base mode except that the timer is fixed at 90 seconds and can't be extended. Challenge mode limits the pieces available. As noted above, both modes, and Sharp mode as well, are locked until you achieve a set coverage percentage in prior modes.
Chime Sharp is a challenging game - you have to rotate and fit shapes into multiple rectangles at once while trying to make sure that as much of the board gets covered as possible, all while trying to keep ahead of the clicking clock. It's not a relaxing sort of puzzle game, if that's what you're looking for, but if you want your spatial thinking skills put to the test, Chime Sharp will certainly do that for you. The game doesn't do much to ease you into things - there's a button for game instructions which drops you out of the game and into your browser to read a barebones manual online. With a little patience you'll figure things out on your own, but it would have been nice if the game did more to introduce you to the rules of play. Lastly, the game's soundtrack is enjoyable, as long as you like techno/trance/EDM style music. If not, then you may want to pass on the game as playing it with the sound off will certainly diminish the experience.
Final Rating: 85% - More of a solo act than a symphony, but it hits all the right notes for a puzzle game.