11/08/2017

☆ Review: Chess Ultra "Almost As Old As Time" ☆ @16bitnostalgia

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Chess, a game that seems as old as time, in fact, it originated in India in the 6th Century and is played by millions of people the world over.

My experience with the game is very limited having played a bit at school and these electronic Chess games you could get in the 1980’s with the red LED lights around the board, but I still retained a little bit of knowledge from the game so I was excited to be given the opportunity to play Chess a whole 16 centuries since its inception, in a 21st century style way.


Everyone knows what Chess is, it’s a 2 player strategy game played on a board of 64 squares with 16 pieces each and the objective is simple (yet not easy to achieve) – capture the King.  So let’s dive straight in and see what developers Ripstone have done.


As soon as you load up you are greeted with the main menu, a very simple but pretty layout consisting of 5 options – Single Game, Tournaments, Challenges, Tutorials and Options.  

A nice touch is the menus accompanying music, none other than Schubert’s Ave Maria while you make your choice on what to do. I went into a single player game and to my amazement, I actually won against the computer, albeit on novice difficulty.  It’s highly recommended that you go and look at the tutorials first


Within the tutorials you learn everything you need to know, legal moves of the 6 individual pieces, how to capture opponents pieces, attacking formations, sacrificing pieces all the way up to really advanced stuff. It even tells you how NOT to open a game so the tutorial menu is very in depth and gives you all the tools to get stuck straight in.


Single player is where you spend most of your time.  From here you will select from a variety of locations, piece styles and materials to play with. My personal favourite for aesthetic pleasure was within Gomorrah with the Fire & Brimstone pieces made out of precious metal.

On to the next set of options you can choose one of four timers, Blitz, Standard, Fischer, Marathon or you can choose to have no timer at all. Next, choose your opponent, you can play against the computer, locally with a friend or you can take it online with your friends or other players from over the world.

Then choose your difficulty from novice all the way up to Grand Master. Once you get into the game, it’s hard not to be impressed with just how good it looks. It’s absolutely stunning; the board is nice and big so making your move isn’t a problem.  The computer even gives you a guide as to where you can move each piece (this can be turned off in the options at the main menu) which for a novice like myself made the game feel a lot more accessible (probably why I won my first game). The pieces move fluidly, there are a few points of view options; if you feel you made a bad move you can even undo that move. Also, if you decide you have had enough of the game but don’t want to lose your progress, simply quit out of it and you can come back to it at a later point in time. As each game finishes, your level or reputation is adjusted accordingly depending on how well you played.



Tournaments are fairly self-explanatory, take part in tournaments of up to 32 people with friends or random players online or take part in the Ripstone Summer Tournament.

Unfortunately, the online presence was a little bit lacking. I wasn’t even able to get into a single game online let alone compete in a tournament though I’m sure that if chess is your thing, you are sure to find this feature enjoyable as there are players in the Ripstone Tournament.

Lastly are the challenges. There are 8 sets of challenges all with varying degrees of difficulty.  You can emulate some famous matches that have taken place throughout history; you really have to know what you are doing to play these. In the other challenges, you are presented with a situation where you have to win by checkmate in a number of moves ranging from one all through to seven. Obviously, the more moves the game entails the more challenging it is. I was able to complete the ‘Mate in 1’ challenges with relative ease but thanks to my own lack of ability I could not complete anymore.



Summary:
If you are a complete novice or a Grand Master, this game has something for you.
It appeals to players of all levels of ability and if you really are into chess, there is some reward in watching yourself grow as a player. At the end of the day, Chess is Chess, but that being said, this is very good looking Chess. What Ripstone did with the visuals is brilliant and the serene choice of music makes this a very warming game to play. It really sets the tone of just how you might play of an evening at home on a real Chess board. I could just as easily play this in front of the fire with a glass of red and whittle away a few hours. Unfortunately, I was not able to review the PSVR element of it, though I would love to at a later date

Game Link: PS Store
Dev Link: Ripstone


Review By: Brian Sutton-Milne a.k.a



 Nostalgic Gamer