Not strictly about gear I know but Chime was one of the most musically interesting games I’ve ever played. Originally released in 2010, it combined amazing music from the likes of Paul Hartnoll, Markus Schulz, Fred Deakin, Moby, Jonathan Coulton and Philip Glass, with Tetris-like game play. The sequel, Chime Sharp, has just been released with a fabulous new line up.
The key musical device was that as you placed blocks on a grid it would trigger and remix the music. It was like the puzzle of filling the grid became a sequencer. The resulting gameplay was sublime, taking you on ambient musical adventures while your fingers frantically tried to fill the grid against the clock.
Two years ago one of the original developers, Ste Curran, began working on a new version entitled Chime Sharp. He was on a bit of a mission to improve the game, to push the music integration, to smooth out the clash between chilled out music and intense game play and to make the musical elements more creative. Last year the project found its way onto Kickstarter and was very quickly funded by a passionate community of Chime fans.
So it’s a game – how does it work? Ste, who is surprisingly engaging as a developer, describes it as:
Right. Chime is still Chime and the game is still simple. It is part Tetris, part sequencer. You place pieces on a grid. Each piece is read by the beatline as a note. Cluster pieces together and you’ll form Quads, read as longer musical phrases. Quads eventually set, shatter and colour the grid. The more you colour the grid the further through the song you progress. You can see how you’re doing at the bottom of the screen; time bonuses are awarded as you move into new sections of the track. Colour 90% of the grid with quads before time runs out, complete the song and you complete the level.
There are fifteen tracks in Chime Sharp, that’s three times what was in the original. The rota of artists includes Steve Reich, Chipzel, A Mote of Dust, Magic Sword, CHVRCHES, Los, Haiku Salut, Shirobon, Kavinsky, Luc Grey, Timothy Schmalz, Message to Bears, Symbion Project, Andy Hung, and Noveller. Ste also talked about the potential of opening the audio engine up to allow users to import their own music. This really appeals to me as a strange and interesting way to remix your own music and generate ideas.
Personally I have never enjoyed a puzzle game quite as much as Chime. I’m excitedly sitting here waiting for my Kickstarter backer access code to arrive to play the new version. I found it an awesome way to relax within my studio and musical environment. It’s not an app, playing on my phone, this is on my main PC driving through my studio monitors. Combining the pleasure of listening to evolving music while your brain is engaged in puzzle solving and to have it all working together in a visually splendid format – fabulous.
It’s on Steam, it’s a tenner and on a special deal of £7.99 until 26th July.
More information can be found on the Chime Sharp webpage.