If Tetris Pieces Could Sing
Your Tetris tactics will mislead you; your Lumines strategy will slow you down. Chime, though visually reminiscent of the giants in the puzzle genre, is a game that will take some getting used to. It would be one thing if it were completely different -- all you'd have to do is learn the new ideas and apply them to the game. To excel at Chime, however, you must first unlearn judgments picked up during your 100th hour of Tetris, then begin the regular learning process.
Chime is such a patchwork of different concepts that it becomes wholly unique because of it. The shapes share a common resemblance with Tetris pieces, though they are five squares large as opposed to four; your goal is to cover the entirety of a gigantic grid, but in a different way than in Qix; the way your cover the gird is create squares, but there is no color matching; the beat line from Lumines is used to different effect. All of these twists and near-similarities can be hard to work around, and could leave some players at a loss when their strategy from another game doesn't work.
It sounds intimidating, but this entire process only takes about an hour. Make your way through the game's five levels, and you'll have a decent understanding of how the game works. You'll learn about multipliers, the importance of not keeping remnants of pieces around for too long, and the best ways to extend the size of your quad (what the game calls a square of nine spaces or more). Like many puzzle games, you'll eventually start feeling the small endorphin doses every time you create larger quad or fit a piece exactly where it belongs. In that sense, it's as good as any of the games that inspire it.
Of course, the other unique aspect of Chime is the way you create music as you play. It's a concept central to Lumines, but is expanded upon in Chime. Different quad shapes (such as three-by-four, four-by-four, and five-by-six) create different sounds, and coverage of the field causes more instruments to play, adding to an initially simple beat. As you approach the 100% mark for a level, you'll be carrying on a full symphony using abstract shapes. It doesn't take much effort to create a good mix, but you still feel as if that song is unique to your experience, and that's what counts.
Achievements aren't usually a thing that influence play too often, but in Chime they're worth mentioning. with only a timed mode and a free mode to play around with, the achievements are responsible for setting various challenges to accomplish. Disregarding the fact that you get 50 points just for playing the game, the challenges the game sets range from obvious to milestones that will require you to either master the game or play if for hours on end. Instead of rewarding your for things you're going to do anyway, the achievements help extend the length of the game, which is smart, considering the lack of content in the actual game.
Before you lament its lack of content -- your time with the game can vary, depending on what achievements you strive for -- know that Chime is only five dollars, and around 60% of the proceeds go to the Starlight Children's Foundation and Save the Children. The concept of video games for charity might not reek of quality, but Chime is a great first effort, and I'm hopeful for the future of such an initiative.