Chime Super Deluxe Hands-On Preview – Perfect Harmony
Written Monday, March 21, 2011 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Chime possesses that rare puzzling alchemy that you find in all good puzzle games. Apparent simplicity that conceals something that's both addictive and more complex than it looks. This is clear from the moment we pick up the controller to check out what developer Zoë Mode is calling the most definitive version of Chime yet. Welcome to Chime Super Deluxe.
The concept is incredibly straightforward. Simply put together rectangular blocks of varying sizes to create solid blocks called 'quads' to cover as much area as possible within a music track's bespoke grid. There are several tracks in the game from top dance artists, including Paul Hartnoll of Orbital fame, whose track is the first one we're given hands-on time with.
The track is a nice slow piece that builds up nicely as it progresses, and like every piece of music in the game, the more shapes and quads you build up, the more intricate the soundscape becomes. You can choose to play for three, six or nine minutes per session, and with each quad you successfully create, you gain a boost to your time limit, so you can potentially play for ages or simply kick back and enjoy a brief, casual game.
However, even a three minute session can quickly transform into a frantic race to achieve 100% coverage on the grid and shapes that don't become quads soon fade over time and you can lose multiplier bonuses if you're not quick enough to maintain your quads. Shapes about to disappear begin to flash, so you know you need to develop them into quads, or they'll be erased. Perfect quads with no bits hanging off them also grant a double boost, so striving for perfection is a must if you want your score to shoot into the stratosphere and earn a spot on the game's leaderboards.
As you gain multipliers, the track evolves continually and even a piece of music like 'The Looping Song' by Shlomo, that starts off slow, quite melancholy and mournful, can soon develop into an upbeat, funky track. This particular track is exceptional, as it's entirely a capella, with the UK beatboxer creating the track with a choir of four choir singers. In fact, every one of Chime Super Deluxe's tracks have been carefully selected with Hartnoll's 'For Silence' building into a quite euphoric tune, while 'Brazil' by Philip Glass is a sparse yet beautiful, hypnotic and relaxing track that's perfect to wind down to. Sabrepulse's bit tunes are also great fun to play, as they evolve in a pleasing and entertaining way as you build quads.
In fact, Zoë Mode has noted that the game is a great way to unwind after a stressful session on a multiplayer shooter (naming no names), as it's not too demanding if you don't want it to be. And that's the innate beauty of Chime Super Deluxe: the game is adaptable to the way you want to play, so if you don't want to get involved in anything too frantic, then that's fine. If on the other hand you're after a speedy and challenging score attack, then you can go for it and watch the lighting change as the intensity grows.
You'll find that the more you play Chime Super Deluxe, the more texture and layers you'll discover in a track. It's surprising how much there is to Chime Super Deluxe and like any good puzzle game worth its salt, it proves simple to pick up and play, difficult to master and fiendishly addictive, even on the basis of playing through only four of the ten tracks to be featured in the final game.
Next, we're shown multiplayer, which offers both co-op play – whereby you and up to three friends can collaborate to create quads in the same grid and try and stay out of one another's way – and competitive multiplayer modes. Versus enables up to four players to compete for the most coverage on a grid, meaning that the action can become a maddening bid to grab the most territory in your colour. It's perhaps counter to the comparatively relaxing single-player experience, but that's potentially the beauty of it, as the most quads and coverage wins.
Chime Super Deluxe is looking to be every bit as absorbing and enjoyable as the Xbox 360 version before it, but with enhanced visuals and an expanded track list making this PSN version the best iteration of Chime you can buy. It'll prove to be the perfect antidote to the explosions and relentless action of so many other games out there, which is why Chime Super Deluxe ought to be an essential purchase when it releases on March 29th on the PlayStation Network for $9.99 in North America and March 30th in the UK and Europe for £7.19 and €8.99 respectively.