In those fabulous times known as the 1990s, bowling alleys began resorting to things like turning on black lights and painting everything in neon colors to get people to come out to bowl. A sport like bowling didn’t need the flash and style. You either like throwing balls at pins or you don’t. Loud DJ music and glowing lane markers was never going to change that.
I say this, because it’s all I can think about when I play the newest version of Pure Chess, by developer VooFoo Studios and published by Ripstone LTD, on the Sony PS4. Here you have an excellent representation of the classic board game, but it doesn’t contain any flash or style. And unfortunately, that may turn some people off. It will be their loss.
Pure Chess is exactly what it says it is: pure chess. From the main menu, players have few choices. Play local, play online, complete chess challenges–which are specific feats and tournaments–a tutorial, and tabs for the Pure Store and to the player’s profile.
The tutorial is pretty stout with information on all things chess (or, you know, Pure Chess), and the play local and play online are pretty self-explanatory. You select these modes when you are ready to actually play the game.
Once in the game, more options present themselves, including difficulty setting (there are 10 different settings, from Monkey to Grand Master), and the options to time moves, undo moves and setting the opponents from CPU to the person next to you on the couch.
After that, players can choose from sets of pieces: Williams, Staunton and Checker, and they can even select the materials the pieces are made from, like marble, gold and/or silver, or wood.
There are three environments to play in: a museum, a library, or a penthouse, and once chosen the game finally begins.
Here is where Pure Chess lives up to its name. The view of the board is top down, with 3D pieces and movements, and the view can be altered with the right stick, swooping down and around the pieces for better perspectives. All moves are noted on the sides by piece name and location. Moves are even rated and scores can be accumulated. The interface is clean and smooth, and the soundtrack–which can also be selected–is incredibly relaxing as the genres include classical, jazz, chill, and nature.
All of these options can be added to with additional pieces, locations and music via DLC, but for fans of just chess, everything you need to enjoy this wonderful game is right here in the basic package.
For online matches, players can challenge others by PSN IDs, from their friends list, or random, where the CPU will find you an opponent. The gameplay is the same after that.
Pure Chess keeps track of all stats through your playing career and there are trophies to be earned for completing certain tasks, like putting an opposing king in check, or hitting that first checkmate. You can even save games from replays later on.
In today’s gaming world, so much emphasis is placed on spectacle, and sometimes it’s nice to just sit down and play a quiet game of chess, where the mind matters more than the placement of thumbs and the mashing of buttons. Pure Chess allows for that and more. It’s a perfect version of a game that can take a lifetime to master, and its a nice alternative and break from the kind of games that go boom, or games that glow under black light.
Pure Chess was reviewed on PS4 using a code provided by Ripstone Games. It was released for PS4 on April 15.