Given how old the game of chess is, having entertained millions of people over hundreds of years, it would be a bit silly to review the gameplay within Chess Ultra. It is one of those games that most of us have been exposed to in our lives, and we all know what its general are. Chess games are few and far between, but Ripstone Games’ take on the game is very well crafted.
Chess Ultra’s presentation is top notch with various chess set designs and materials to pick from, demonstrating a great attention to detail and allowing for some customisation of how the game looks. Further to that, you can also play in different locations that range from an office lounge setting to a mountain top named Gomorrah. Visually each area is incredibly distinct from the other, setting different atmospheres to the game of chess. The lounge area makes the game feel relaxed, aside from a phone that randomly vibrates, while sitting in Gomorrah gives off an air of foreboding as you face the Grim Reaper.
The execution of the chess games themselves are simple enough, with an option present to show what legal moves each piece can take, allowing those not too familiar with the rules to jump straight in. There’s also is a comprehensive tutorial that explains the pieces and basic strategies, while challenge puzzles give you the objectives of getting a checkmate in a certain number of moves. There are also historical challenges where you are tasked with recreating strategies that were used in prominent matches in order to win.
Chess Ultra features both local and online multiplayer, featuring cross platform play. Online uses an asynchronous system meaning you can carry out a move, but then have to wait until your opponent logs on to carry out their move. In addition, there are also tournaments that you can sign up for. This system does mean you have to keep checking back regularly, as inactivity will lead to a forfeit, but it’s a shame you can’t sit down for a live head to head battle.
Chess Ultra lets you play on the three main VR platforms as well – PSVR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive – and it generally works very well. On all three, you can use motion controls to pick pieces up and move them, with the input being very accurate on PSVR. On the other side of the coin there is a slight blurriness that accompanies the graphics while in VR mode, taking away some of the shine that is present in the regular version of the game. It’s still quite the experience to play against Death on top of a mountain.
Chess Ultra is one of the best chess games available at the moment, but is let down by the blurriness in the VR portion of the game that puts some strain on the eyes. Aside from this shortcoming, Chess Ultra is basically the complete package for chess fans, and for those who would like to get into chess due to featuring the in depth tutorials and guides that educate about one of the world’s oldest games.