Review: Pure Chess

I grew up playing chess a lot. While I am by no means good at the game, I still enjoy making my brain think every once in a while. Once I got a modern computer, in my early teenage years, I spent a lot of time playing Chessmaster. Honestly, I haven’t played since then, but when I heard a Vita title called Pure Chess was coming out I became interested in this age-old strategy game once again.

Pure Chess is available for the Playstation Network and Playstation Vita. Don’t get your hopes up though, as one purchase does not grant access to both games. Despite that one missed opportunity, Pure Chess hits most of its marks for a $6.99 purchase.

As a single-player experience, there are absolutely no gripes. Both versions offer highly-detailed boards, pieces and surroundings. The initial download will give you three different styles of chess pieces, all of which come in three separate textures. You also get three locations to play at, such as a penthouse suite or museum. The attention to detail in all areas are exceptional.

Multiple game modes for such a small purchase price are what make this such a good deal. You can play through tournaments in varying degrees of difficulty, exhibition games with plenty of adjustments to tweak the game play settings and challenges such as “Checkmate in 1 Move”. The list of challenges alone is quite daunting and I spent quite a few sittings just combing my beard and thinking on how to clear them. If you are new to chess, or just need a refresher, Pure Chess comes packed with a tutorial to teach you the basics. Have I said this is only a $7 purchase?

The soundtrack is something I feel deserves a little attention. There are four options, all of which are a basic loop but they all got stuck in my head while playing heavy sessions of Pure Chess. Whether classical, jazz or just the sounds of nature, Pure Chess is one of the few simplistic games in which I really enjoyed the background music.

Sadly, it starts to fall apart during the multiplayer portion. I understand the intent and while a novel idea, the decision to have Play-by-Mail the only multiplayer option is quite confusing and more than a little archaic. Play-by-mail gives you the opportunity to play a friendly game of chess with a friend by playing your move and then sending game data via a PSN message to your opponent. They will then open the message, click the data and launch into the game.

It gives a genuine feel for what most people reading this probably won’t remember; you would write down your move and literally mail it to your opponent. By mail, I don’t mean e-mail, I mean quite literally dropping it off to the post office and having to not only wait days for it to get there, but also days to receive your next move. Thankfully, the process isn’t quite that time-consuming, and it does allow you to play a move and go on to other things (much like another popular turn-based game, Words with Friends).  But Pure Chess lacks a live, multiplayer option. Another staff member and I resorted to chatting on Facebook instead of audibly groaning as the other person gained the upper hand.

If you own a Vita and Playstation 3, I would recommend the Vita version first. The touch controls are more intuitive (except certain menu decisions) and just the fact that it’s portable made playing much more comfortable. I would easily recommend Pure Chess on the Vita for someone looking for a game that’s easy to get into but hard to put down. The lack of a live multiplayer option though makes it hard for me to give an honest recommendation to the PS3 version.

Pros:

  • Plenty of meat for solo players
  • Beautiful graphics on both systems
  • Less than $10

Cons:

  • No live multiplayer with voice chat
  • There are better strategy games on the PS3

Score:

PS3- 2/5

Vita- 3/5

Note: Both version were played for this review, with the publisher supplying a code for the PS3 version. The Vita version was a personal purchase by the reviewer.

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Author: Don Parsons View all posts by
Starting out as a founding member of Gamingcore Podcast, Don ventured on to start Gameciety; which began as a podcast, and ended as a blog. Don now handles Vagary.tv's PR work, is part of the reviews staff and has various other little projects he does for the site.