Chess, known as "The Game of Kings," is considered one of the greatest strategy games of all time. Chess is simple to learn, but hard to master. VooFoo Studios has brought their well received Pure Chess to the PlayStation 4. Does it continue its reign as one of the best digital versions of the game of kings? Take a seat and ready your strategy.
Controls and Gameplay
Pure Chess is not a flashy action adventure game nor is it a puzzle solving game; there are no alternate rules, no variant styles, just chess. The classic rules of the Pure Chess are ones taught to many but mastered by few. If you've never played chess before there is a very through tutorial system that, not only explains how each piece moves, but also teaches special moves and touches on the strategies and strengths of the pieces.
The local play is varied. You can play a two player local game when you want to be sociable and challenge a real person or you can play against a computer A.I. opponent with your choice of intelligence; from a monkey (1) all the way up to a grandmaster (10). You can set up tournaments against A.I.to challenge yourself. If you feel the need to really challenge yourself there are special "Mate in" bonus games. In the "Mate in" games you are presented with a game in progress and are challenged to achieve checkmate in "X" amount of moves (1 to 5, your choice).
There is an online game, but Pure Chess falters here. You can play against an online opponent, but not in real time. Last time I checked it was 2014, an age where we are able to play games in real time against others online. Most of those other online games probably use much more bandwidth and computation power than Pure Chess, so it is really odd that I can't start up a friendly game and chat with my online pals. What I can do in Pure Chess is essentially play "chess by mail" with online opponents. I make a move, send it off and wait, my opponent makes their move, sends it back and then waits for me; rinse, repeat.
Graphics and Audio
Pure Chess has some of the most beautiful graphics and on the PlayStation 4, they are exquisite. You have 3 environment settings you can play in (Museum, Library, or Penthouse) though you won't see much of them. You can angle the camera around the board to not only get a better look at the board, but at the room too.
On the chess board you have the choice of which style of chess pieces you play with; the classic Staunton set, the simplistic Williams set, and the Checker set that looks like checkers with chess pieces labeled on their tops. The Staunton and Williams sets can be further customized by your choice of what they are made of; marble, wood or metal.
On the audio side, besides sounds for the chess pieces moving, the background music is subtle. One of four musical styles will play; classical, jazz, chill, or nature. If one of these is not to your liking you have the option to shut off any or all of them.
Pure Chess for the PlayStation 4 is an excellent game. Everything is here for the novice to master level player. The game is solid and I found no bugs. If you get bored with the basic 3 chess set styles you can purchase additional sets. The only fault I can cite it is the online player "play by mail." In this day and age there really is no excuse for not being able to play in real time against a person online.
Beautiful graphics, great challenges for single player, but lacking a real online challenge brings Pure Chess to 4 out of 5.
Pure Chess is Rated E for Everyone by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
For more information see the Pure Chess web site.