Ripstone Games have always had a solid eye for terrific simulators, and now they’ve made their very own with the terrific Chess Ultra. Our review;
Review kindly contributed by Jacqui Onions.
The guys at Finger Guns have enlisted me for my superior chess knowledge to take a look at Ripstone’s Chess Ultra, and by superior I mean I know how the pieces move! Luckily, this game isn’t just for the seasoned chess player. The tutorials give you everything you need to learn to play the game. Easy to follow and making you actively try moves out rather than just reading the rules, they start with the very basic knowledge you need to begin playing and move onto set pieces and strategy. It’s a lot to take in all at once but a handy tool to dip in and out of once you’ve got the hang of the basics.
Chess is a game that will appeal to the non-gamer so, clearly aware of this, Ripstone have included in the tutorial as the very first point how to move the pieces. The movement is actually very intuitive so, as long as you’ve picked up a PS4 controller at least once in your life, you’ll be able to jump straight in without going through the tutorial – assuming you already know how to play Chess of course.
The Novice difficulty level is for the complete beginner and is designed to help you remember how the pieces move and get your first ever chess games under your belt. The computer plays with virtually no skill so even with my very basic playing abilities our first game was a stalemate and by the second game I could beat it, but that’s exactly what you need to build in confidence if you’ve never picked up a pawn before. After a couple of games, the next level , Apprentice, still has me beaten so by the time you’ve worked your way through Amateur, Challenger, Expert, Scholar, Professional, Master, World Master and Grandmaster, there should be something for players of all ages and experiences. Add to that a two player mode, online play, challenges and tournaments, and there is more than enough to keep you coming back to play again.
There are a variety of locations that you can choose from to design your perfect game, and the attention to detail in each is stunning. Do take time to watch the introduction to the game and take in your surroundings for a moment before getting engrossed in the actual playing. The design is of the exceptional high standard that we’ve come to expect from Ripstone having introducing us to a similar quality and aesthetic to games such as VooFoo’s Pure Pool, but giving the player more control in allowing us to choose our setting.
Each location has its own soundtrack too so you can find the one that best aids your concentration. Surprisingly, having the music accompanying you as you play isn’t distracting; in fact it’s rather relaxing. The music has been very well thought out to fit seamlessly alongside both the design and game play. There are also sound effects to complement the locations, most of which are atmospheric, some are a bit off-putting. The interim music is equally as pleasing on the ear; I’m writing this review to the beautiful sounds of Ave Maria – how civilised!
You can experiment with the styles and the materials of the pieces to discover the one that you find easiest to play with. Some are simple, traditional and clear, others more elaborate and intricately designed but maybe not as easy to distinguish between the pieces. It really is personal preference and there are more than enough combinations to find the one that’s most playable for you.
Obviously you’ll need to either already enjoy playing Chess or have a desire to learn the game to want to play Chess Ultra in the first place – giving the game a relatively narrow appeal – but this is a beautifully designed game that Chess novices and experts alike could quite easily lose hours and hours to, and at just £10 it is incredible value for money.
Developer: Ripstone Games
Publisher: Ripstone Games
Available now for £9.99 on PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One and PC.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publisher. For more information on how we review or score games, please see our review policy.