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The Ouroboros King screenshot

The Ouroboros King is a challenging and moreish chess/roguelike mash-up

Home » Features » The Ouroboros King is a challenging and moreish chess/roguelike mash-up

If you like the strategy of chess and the unpredictability of the roguelike genre, there’s a very good chance you’ll want to check The Ouroboros King out. It’s been available on PC since 2023, but it’s just released on PlayStation and Switch, giving a new legion of console players the chance to get hooked on its simple yet devious premise.

The Ouroboros King isn’t a pure chess game. There are lots of elements of chess here, sure. Some of the pieces, and their movesets, will be familiar, and you’re playing on a classic black-and-white squared board. But it also throws in new pieces, with moves and abilities all of their own. You can’t rest on your laurels, then, and as you start to play The Ouroboros King there’ll be something of a learning curve as you familiarise yourself with its new pieces.

You also won’t start a game with a full board of pieces. Just four will make up your army to begin with, and you’ll have the opportunity to gain more pieces as you progress. Taking a leaf from other roguelike games such as Slay the Spire, you’ll move along a map that sometimes offers branching paths, giving you the opportunity to gain different rewards.

The Ouroboros King screenshot
Image: Oriol Cosp Games

Before starting your run of The Ouroboros King, you can choose the pieces you want to begin with, although of course, central to them all is your King. Just like a real game of chess, you need to protect your king at all costs while aiming to take down your opponents’. Needless to say, being an adept chess player is going to help you out a lot here. But if you’re not so familiar, not all is lost: highlighting each piece on the board will show you its possible movements.

Related: Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate review – chess, but not as you know it

Our only problem with The Ouroboros King is its controls. Starting life on PC, it’s clear it’s been designed to play with a mouse, and it’s suited to clicking-and-pointing. On console, you’ll be moving around a cursor with your left stick, square-by-square, which can easily get lost between your board and various other bits of information around your screen. It’s not a total dealbreaker, but it’s fiddlier than it should be. It really would benefit from a bit of extra work going into its control scheme: keep the cursor locked to the chess board, for example, and add a face button press to access information about your power-ups. A simple change, but it’d make a huge difference.

Still, we’ve a soft spot for chess games, and seeing a new take on a classic is always a treat. The Ouroboros King successfully turns the traditional strategy game into a roguelike, making it moreishly tempting — and a lot of fun to play. Even if you’re not a chess master it’s worth your time, particularly considering its bargain price of just £7.99.

The Ouroboros King is out now on PS4, Switch and PC. There’s a free demo available on Steam if you want to try it out before buying.

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