Review: Pure Chess (PS4)

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Title: Pure Chess
Format: PlayStation Network Download (PS4) (397 MB) / Complete Bundle (PS4) (642 MB)
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Ripstone Ltd.
Developer: VooFoo Studios
Original MSRP: $7.99 / $14.99 (US), €5.99 (EU), £6.79 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
Pure Chess is also available on PlayStation 3, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U, iOS and Android.
The PlayStation 4 version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Chess hasn’t changed much over the last thousand years and yet it still remains one of the most complex and challenging games in existence. To play the game takes some basic understanding, but to master it can take a lifetime. Now I haven’t played the game for about twenty years and can’t even remember what the proper names are for all of those pieces. There’s a horsey thing and a castle and the little ones in front are called prawns?

Gameplay:
Now this section is here to give you a basic knowledge of the game and how it plays. I could go into the origins of Chess and bore you with the basics of how to win, or at least try to. But you don’t care about that so all I will say is that if you can play Chess then read the next paragraph and then skip to the visuals, everyone else, carry on.

Pure Chess has a fantastic set of pregame choices from the timer options to the opponents skill level – which goes from Monkey to Grand Master along with simple controls which anyone could easily figure out in a minute or two. There’s also a Chess Challenges mode that includes a few tournaments of increasing difficulty or Bonus Games where you have to complete games in a certain amount of moves.

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So if you’re reading this then you’re either new to Chess or were just compelled to read on regardless? So apart from teaching you the game, let’s find out the second best way to learn the classic game of Chess.

For the complete novice or beginner there is an excellent tutorial that gives you all the basics to allow you the proficiency to give most players a run for their money. To also make life easier the developers automatically have the ‘Legal Move Highlights’ option set to on, which as the name describes, shows you all the moves a selected piece can make. This alone makes the game easier to learn.

With many varying degrees of opponent skill level you’ll find a nice balance without feeling like you’re outmatched the second you start a game. I’ve noticed the computer make mistakes on the first few skill levels, ones that I would have probably made myself. The only difference being that I would throw the pieces across room and storm out if it were a real game. The only thing that stops the computer from doing that (apart from being a computer) is how good the game looks, which brings me to a section we like to call…

Visuals:
Trying to describe the sheer beauty that VooFoo Studios managed to bring to a game of Chess probably wouldn’t do it justice. You begin with the choice of piece sets, either the traditional Staunton, Checker or Williams. Then you pick the material which ranges from stone, wood, marble, crystal and even plastic. Lastly you choose the environment in which you’ll play. These are: a museum, penthouse or my favourite, a library. Almost instantly your retinas are treated with the best looking Chess pieces laid out on a stunning board in what can only be described as a fabulous room.

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As I mentioned before, my room of choice is the library, in which a summer sun bathes the entire room in a warm glow. Light bounces off every piece as it should in real life. A few presses of the touch pad sees the on-screen display fade away allowing you to stare at every little detail. Swinging the camera around with the right stick and locking it in place with the left trigger makes Pure Chess a joy to play on the PS4.

The archaic looking top-down view is also present for all of those old-school Chess players out there. You also have the option to lock the camera onto a single piece and get up close and personal with it. It seems VooFoo Studios have every style catered for.

Audio:
Pure Chess features just some average background music and the option to pick which genres you like from Jazz, Classical, Nature and Chill. I quickly found it almost redundant and either Party Chat or even silence suits this game just fine.

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Online/Multiplayer:
You can challenge another player by your Friend List or just by a person’s PSN ID, auto-challenge or from recent opponents. So with those choices it became frustrating to just end up playing in an asynchronous environment, even when playing against people who were online at the time. I would make a move and then the screen would blur and a small overhead view of the game board would appear as I waited for the other player to make their move or go and make a cup of tea. I wouldn’t know, instead just wait. I could also go back to the menu and check other games in play – you can have up to six. Don’t get me wrong, asynchronous multiplayer is a brilliant idea but I would like to remain fully in the game if both players are actively participating.

Once the game ends you can save the match replay, which is nice for the professionals who want to go over their older games. When viewing the replay you can pan around the board just as you would when playing. With the lack of any kind of tournament options, or even watching historic matches like IBM’s Deep Blue versus Garry Kasparov would have been nice.

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Conclusion:
If you like Chess or maybe just want to learn, then this is a brilliant option for you. It looks fantastic and plays very well. However, if you don’t like the game of Chess, apart from the gorgeous graphics I can’t see anything that’ll change your mind.

The multiplayer choices for finding a game are great but the asynchronous multiplayer even when both players are playing the match is frustrating. Pure Chess on the PS4 is a good game, especially in the graphics department. I’m not quite sure if everyone would be happy with the price, it seems slightly too high for my liking.

Score: 
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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  • William

    Prawns are from the movie District 9 they are actually called Pawns the horsey are called Knights and the castles are called Rooks. I might get it as I have the vita version and enjoy it but agree the price seems high.

    • *Editor’s Note: I believe Chazz was goofing around with the names so I left it as is.

      • William

        Yeah I found it funny but in case he was for real those are the names…

      • ChazzH69

        Correct Josh. 🙂

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