It's such a simple premise that I'm surprised we haven't seen more games with it. Chess combined with turn-based combat is a match made in heaven.
Chessaria takes that combination and runs with it, making a comprehensive experience that includes an adventure mode and a generous selection of quick game modes. The adventure mode provides a narrative that takes you through numerous gameplay scenarios.
A twist on traditional chess
Starting out easy, Chessaria incorporates more obstacles, chess pieces and enemies as you progress. You'll begin with just a pawn that can move only forwards and attack diagonally. Soon after, you'll be introduced to rooks and bishops, with more to follow.
The adventure mode is a steady introduction to everything that Chessaria has to offer. You can see us play out the first few levels in the video below:
We lost a few totally on purpose, just to show you what happens. Honestly.
The combination of traditional chess moves with a gamified combat system works surprisingly well. While some luck is involved - in guessing where your opponent might move to – it's largely skill-based, and a good knowledge of chess rules will help massively.
A wealth of game modes
Outside of its adventure modes, Chessaria has a wealth of quick game modes, too. With seven chess-themed games to choose from, there's plenty here to keep you busy. There's a classic chess mode, of course, then a mixture of more battle-oriented modes. Horde Mode, which you can play in either defence or attack, tasks you with capturing enemy units. Pawn Battle is a race to the other side of the board before the opponent. The Race tasks you with capturing the enemy's treasure before they get yours. Mages' Duel is a race to destroy your opponent's crystals before they destroy yours.
These game modes can all be played in either single player against CPU, or in local two-player. There's seven difficulty levels for the CPU, ranging from easy all the way up to insane. Easy is enough of a challenge unless you're a chess pro, let me tell you. There's also a choice of different armies and game boards to play with, and more unlock as you play through adventure mode.
Chessaria's challenging, but it's a refreshing spin on a deceptively simple premise. It really is a wonder that more games don't play around with the rules of chess, but developer Pixel Wizards has done a brilliant job. It's a pretty looking game, too – surprisingly so. Unfortunately it means it requires a fairly beefy PC to perform at its best. Gameplay was fine for me, but on a GTX 1050, it still chugged a bit through the cutscenes. It's something to bear in mind, but don't let it put you off playing. If you're a fan of chess, Chessaria is a delightful spin on the all-time classic.