What a difference 45 minutes makes.
My experience with Chime goes as follows:
1. Load Steam.
2. See Chime on the front page. It's $4.99 US. I am intrigued.
3. This looks like if Tetris and Lumines had a bastard child! Purchase.
4. 60% of sales go to charity! D'awwww.
5. Load game, Intriguing music plays. I really enjoy the pinging noise that the menu makes.
6. Start the first level.
O.K. Here is where the actual reviewer-ing happens.
Immediately what impresses me is the music. Catchy and melodious, it's perfect for what I perceive to be an addictive puzzle game. Secondly, the gameplay, despite what the tutorial menus would have you believe, is pretty damn simple.
It's also not really that fun.
Basically, the idea is to create a 3x3 block out of the shapes you are given. Once you achieve this amazing feat, there is a time limit of 5-8 seconds during which you should try to make the box bigger and bigger by adding more shapes to it. The catch is that you can't just have big pieces sticking out from the side of the box, you have to extend it wall-by-wall, so to speak. If the entire side isn't built, it won't be added to the box, and it won't reset the timer.
Once the timer runs out, your box is removed from play, essentially. It becomes part of the background, and adds to what the game calls "coverage". The ultimate goal is to gain 100% coverage of the level. Additionally, any blocks left laying around the level will slowly become brighter with each sweep of the time bar that passes over the level constantly. Eventually these blocks start to flash, and one more sweep causes them to disappear, along with a bonus multiplier that you rack up from successful box making.
Now here is my major gripe with the game: To keep your multiplier, you have to turn these spare parts into coverage before they disappear. This is not enjoyable. Often, you'll be left with several small pieces across the level which are not accessible because in order to make a box, you've had to combine various unusual shapes, and when the box becomes coverage, you're left with awkward jagged edges and contortions that none of the shapes you are provided with will fit into.
So your options are either: begin chipping away at one point, and slowly, arduously work your way back, or ignore them and continue to build coverage across the rest of the level. Either way, you are going to lose your multiplier, because by the time you reach the middle of that tangled mess, the blocks in the corner will be flashing and you will have zero chance of eliminating them.
Furthermore, it is difficult to avoid situations like this, because the shapes the game provides you with are inherently weird, some are just guaranteed to mess up the level. Staircase-shaped blocks, I'm looking at you!
Compounding this frustrating experience are the mouse controls. While not terrible, I found they were uncomfortably sluggish, due to the games grid-based nature. With a controller, these controls are acceptable. With a mouse, they are not. At the very least, the mouse movement should have been independent of the grid, perhaps snapping-to when you decide where you want to place a particular piece.
Ultimately though, the reason I am granting Chime 2.5 stars is due to its length. There are 5 songs, all of which are catchy. 5 levels, which fail to change the formula in any meaningful way as you progress through them. They don't get more difficult, they just get different music. After 45 minutes, I had completed all the levels with coverage at 60-80%
In theory, I should go back, and try for 100% coverage, but I just don't feel like the gameplay can carry the experience enough to deserve an achievement run. Those issues I mentioned before - about getting rid of stray blocks being a pain in the ass - prevail in the end, so perhaps the brevity of the experience is preferable to 10 more levels of exactly the same kinda-ok-kinda-not gameplay.
7. Quit the game. Chime captured me with its charming design, cool music and all-around inherent likeability, but that's sort of where it ended.
If I may, I'd like to compare the experience to playing with Lego: It's fun when you start. You grab all the cool-looking pieces first, and mash them together to make some awesome construct. 10 minutes later, you're raking the carpet for those tiny button pieces, and you really can't be fucked.