Chime – First Look Review

Title   Chime
Developer  Zoë Mode
Publisher  OneBigGame
Platform  Xbox 360
Genre  Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date  February 3, 2010

What happens when you take a few Tetris shaped eggs, throw in two tablespoons of Rez, add a pinch of Moby and leave to bake in an oven of good will? You get Chime.

At higher levels, Tetris was challenging enough... but this has nooks and crannies!

For those who haven’t heard about it, Chime is an XBLA game developed by Zoë Mode and published by OneBigGame, a non-profit charitable organisation. The basic premise of the game is to try and fill a grid lined board with quads – squares and rectangles that are at least 3×3 sized – by piecing together randomly generated shapes. Once you create a quad, you are given a finite time to increase its size, by adding more shapes to it, in order to boost your score before it’s locked into the game board. As you play, a white beat line passes across the screen to the tempo of a simple backing track, usually comprising of little more than a quiet drum beat. As the beat line passes over your shapes, a light melody begins to play, much like the Tonepad iPhone app, but when it passes over the quads you’ve made, the track becomes much more complex, building up multiple layers of instruments. The beat line also acts a screen wipe, clearing away any locked in quads that it passes over.

Chime is only 400MS, with 60% going to charity

To begin with, Chime is a very confusing game with no tutorials to run through and a relatively poor help screen, however after playing through one or two tracks it’s surprisingly simple to follow. If you want to get the big scores though – and the full 200G added to your precious gamerscore – you need to become quite tactical, often juggling multiple active quads. Chime only comes with two play modes – a timed mode with a choice of 3, 6 or 9 minute long sessions and a free mode which is unlocked for each song you complete – and only has 5 compositions to play through but for only 400MS, it’s hard to complain.

With big name artists such as Moby and Paul Hartnoll providing the tracks to play with, it’s no surprise that the audio is top notch. Each level feels like a dream, with hypnotic swirls of sound altering with every shape you place. As previously mentioned OneBigGame is a non-profit, charitable organisation and in respect of this, all artists involved have waived their right to royalties.


It’d be a bit of a push to call Chime groundbreaking, seeing as it’s borrowed heavily from games such as Tetris, Lumines and Rez but it uses those parts to create a game that is fun, addictive and beautifully made. Plus there’s the added bonus of knowing 60% of the purchase price goes to charity. A must have game for puzzlers, music fans and anyone wants to contribute to a good cause.

For more information on OneBigGame, visit their website,

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  1. Victor Victor says:

    Hm. Lots of people on my friends list are chiming at the moment. 400 MS points, you say? I shall join the revolution.

  2. Iain Iain says:

    It’s worth it. Even if you don’t like the game, you still get the warm, fuzzy feeling of donating to charity :)

  3. Kat says:

    It really is worth it. Think I was up at 2am playing it but only getting my head round what I’m actually meant to be doing. I love the Orbital track the most so end up playing that one all the time!

    Good read Pix :)

  4. Mark "Z" says:

    On the basis of this article ill pick up chime tonight me thinks. All games should donate a little bit of the profit to charity, we could solve world hunger while playing Halo. Wouldnt that be something. Sounds like pretty decent game aswell.

  5. Iain Iain says:

    Thanks kat.
    Mark, OneBigGame are planning on releasing a series of different games over the next year :)
    each one’s being created by volunteers from various different developers. I’m guessing the percentage that goes to charity will vary depending on how much they have to spend on resources to make the games

  6. Samuel The Preacher says:

    I tried a few times to get into the demo, and I just couldn’t. I wasn’t sure what I was trying to accomplish, it was somewhat confusing, and having the same brief line of what I imagine to be lyrics moaned at me every time I formed a quad started to irritate me, especially if quads overlapped.

    That, and it takes up a big chunk of your harddrive, saw it getting deleted from my 360 after the third time I gave up on it. Just a brief “this is what you’re doing” message would have helped.

    Nice review, it almost – almost – tempted me to give the thing a fourth look, but ultimately I just don’t agree with your final analysis about it being a must have puzzler. I believe I shall stick with Peggle and Bubble Bobble for now.

  7. Iain Iain says:

    I can see why the lyric thing might’ve put you off if you’re not into that sort of music. I’m a big fan of ambient music and a big fan of Moby, Orbital and (to an extent) Lemon Jelly so I may be a little biased when it comes to the music/samples used

    You’re right about the size of the download (I have a 120GB HDD though so I don’t notice it much) and the lack of instructions. I think once you play a few levels though, it becomes really simple and very, very addictive and I stand firmly by my opinion of it being a must have puzzler :)

    I thought Peggle was god awful though so I guess everyone’s different.

  8. Samuel The Preacher says:

    I have a 120GB HD too, I just like to install retail games to it to save on DVD wear. All the same, at nearly 900 megs, that’s a big chunk of space to take up with such a simple game, with what? Only 5 songs? Even if they were recorded in the FLAC format, that download size makes no sense in correlation with the actual content on display.

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