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Pure Chess – The PS3 Attitude Review

Submitted by on Thursday, 12 April 20122 Comments

For decades now, there have been a huge number of chess games available to play on computers. It’s surprising then, that in the five and a half years since the birth of the PlayStation Network, no-one has thought to release such a game on the service; that is, until now.

Pure Chess is the latest creation from British developer VooFoo Studios, most famous for the popular pool title Hustle Kings, which was released on the PSN in December 2009 as a slicker, more realistic alternative to the arcade-focused Inferno Pool.

The studio has now taken that same ethos and applied it to chess. Pure Chess is exactly what the title suggests; a stripped-down, streamlined experience that’s all about the game itself rather than superficiality. It’s an approach that some players may find jarring, but works well within the context of the game.

This simplicity is seen in the three main singleplayer modes; Exhibition, Tournament and Bonus Games. The former two modes are self-explanatory, while the latter sets you up mid-match and requires you to win within 1-5 moves; the 100 included levels should challenge even chess virtuosos.

Meanwhile, the Play by Mail multiplayer mode allows you to participate in an online match with a friend via the PSN’s messaging system. It works well, but genuine online multiplayer would definitely have been preferable. You can at least play local multiplayer in Exhibition mode though, which is good to see.

The game’s presentation is extremely minimal, with detailed yet uncluttered graphics, straightforward menus and unobtrusive music. This is definitely a game to be played by people who will take it seriously, not by people who have short attention spans.

You may think ‘minimal presentation’ is another way of saying ‘rush job’, but there are several extra features which defy that assumption, such as online leaderboards, multiple camera angles, a record of your stats, an in-depth playable tutorial, an option to save your progress mid-match, and even the ability to save replays.

The game’s price is also appealing, at just £4.99 (or £3.99 for PS+ subscribers). Any more than that and Pure Chess would be much more difficult to recommend, but it seems a fair price for the amount of content included (the Bonus puzzles alone will take several hours to complete).

Pure Chess is about as pure a chess experience as you can get, which we guess is kind of the point; it’s just about you, an 8×8 square board, and 16 chessmen. Consequently, all you really need to know about the game is this: if you like chess, you’ll like Pure Chess, and if you don’t, you won’t!