Review: Chezz01 Feb 2017 0
Released 10 Jan 2017
Not too long ago I was asked to review a couple of titles that succeeded in putting a fresh spin on the thousand year old game that is Chess –an impressive feat, to say the least. Moveless Chess added a puzzle mechanic to the core gameplay, while Really Bad Chess felt like a 5 year old fiddling with the nuts and bolts. They both had a unique flavour and considering there are a hundred different versions of the standard game that simply attempt to add bells and whistles graphically, it’s always nice to see developers get under the bonnet to rewire something traditional.
Which brings us to Chezz, by QuickByte Games, a chess experience that (you guessed it) takes the traditional game and does something different with it. This time, the focus is on speeding the experience up by removing the turn-based system of traditional chess, and turning it into a free-for-all. When you move a piece, a cool-down timer appears above it, rendering the piece useless for several seconds. There’s a genuine tension at play as you see your rook fixed in place, the time slowly making its way to zero, as an opponents’ bishop slowly makes its way across the board. The opening moments of a game are crucial, especially in multiplayer, as you’ll typically find players lining up and moving multiple pieces early to try and get the advantage.
The game sneakily has a ‘tower defense’ vibe about it as well. The end goal of Chess, regardless of how the mechanics are tweaked, is to checkmate the king to win the game. This means always keeping one eye on your defensive line, because any exposed areas will see a random bishop come flying in to take out your king. Chezz then becomes a hyper-intense version of its original counterpart, and the forward thinking that comes with playing normal chess is needed here tenfold. The game helps with this, by previewing the steps possible to move when you tap on a piece. If you’ve played chess before, you know that a knight can move in an L-shaped fashion, but it does help to have all possible maneuvers on show to help make the quickest decision needed.
When you think you have the hang of the game’s core mechanics, it starts to throw new obstacles such as fire, burning up any piece that is unfortunate enough to land on it. The fire itself can be put out, which leads to potential tactical opportunities to clear a path and swoop in. This feels rather gimmicky and I prefer the elegance and simplicity of the game’s core design, but I can see why the developers added features to expand the gameplay further into the main campaign. The challenge does get ramped up, as further into the adventure you’ll notice your army starts to dwindle, while the AI’s remains the same. They also tweak the formula in other ways, such as survival levels, where you need to keep your king piece alive until the time runs out.
Speaking of which, there are three modes as of now: adventure, training, online, with the main campaign using an over-world map to move from one challenge to the next. There is no time-restricted consequence for failing a level, so you are free to try as many times as you like.
Online multiplayer works really well, which is needed for a twitch-based game like Chezz. I’ve yet to run into any issues with delay or lag, and earlier versions of the game that were suffering from certain visual issues have since been cleared. It is commendable to see QuickByte continuing to improve on the game’s overall experience. There is a rankings system in place, and the game keeps you matched up against similarly ranked players. Local multiplayer is not included, but that doesn’t seem like a practical inclusion.
The game is free-to-play, so IAPs are here. The in-game currency comes in the form of “pawns” which you can use to purchase items from the (currently limited) shop. Inside you’ll find a couple of skin packs, and several items that give different perks and buffs. These range from allowing you to queue up moves for pieces on a cool down, to changing the mechanics and movement of different pieces. These items average around 400 pawns, and a pack of 500 will set you back £3.69. Pawns can also be earned through winning games and watching adverts, so I think overall the game does a decent job of a fair price plan, and not slowing the flow of the game if you decide to take the cheap and long road.
Also, as you build up your experience, with each level gained you can increase the stats of a chess piece to enhance their speed moving across the board or reduce the cooldown timer between moves. It’s a simple inclusion, but adds a tactical depth as you try and decide whether to make an even spread of speed and cooldown across your army, or try and overpower particular pieces that you think will give you the edge in play.
Chezz is a simple, yet very well executed game. Graphically it is bright but not overly ambitious, which is fine, as the game should focus on providing a smooth experience, and it does this extremely well. By focusing on its strengths rather than the “free-to-play” aspect, it offers a strong incentive to play and reward the developer, instead of feeling purchases are necessary to progress further in the game. The design and build is great for a quick session on the go.