By Joseph Puntschart / July 5th, 2018
|Title||Zen Chess: Mate in One|
|Developer||Zen Chess Club|
|Publisher||Zen Chess Club|
Chess is one of the most well-known board games and has had many incarnations in gaming. From the Super Mario-branded chess set to its appearance in the Agenda-developed DS mini game collection 42 All-Time Classics, chess is a game that is accessible even to non-gamers. Hence it is a target for developers to capture the casual market. Enter Zen Chess, a budget release incorporating PC gaming with a particular variant of chess – Mate-in-One.
The goal of the Mate-in-One variant of chess to get a checkmate of the opponent’s pieces in one move. Pieces are set up on the board so that it is possible for this to happen and the player has to work out what piece makes it possible. The puzzles in this game were selected by a Chess Grandmaster, hence they are professionally verified. There are 100 default puzzles that have been picked for this title so there is a large quantity. You have to play them in order; there is no skip function.
This game is only $1 and this is reflected in the game’s aesthetic, which is described as “minimalistic” by the developers. Graphics are very simplistic, with colour schemes being fairly simple. One of six possible colour schemes can be chosen. They all look very nice and aren’t visually problematic. The chess pieces also have two designs. If you are unfamiliar with the appearance of chess pieces it can be difficult to work out what pieces match which type.
Similar things can be said about the game’s soundtrack, or more specifically, ambience. There is only one melody that is more specifically designed to be background noise, designed to aid concentration and it’s surprisingly effective, in small doses. Eventually the repetition of this ambience gets annoying, especially as it is so short, hence I turned it off. There is an option setting for this in the game.
Overall, this game is a decent time sink for its price, if you know chess. There are no instructions included about how to play chess so this game relies on a lot of assumed knowledge prior to purchasing. However, when this knowledge is applied the puzzles can often be worked out in one attempt when you apply logic about how to play chess. This means the game can be breezed through quicker depending on your experience/skill with chess, as the more experienced/skilled you are the easier it is to clear the puzzles. For me, it took just under two hours to clear the first 100 puzzles. The developer has since released more free puzzles for the game, thus adding longevity and increasing its value. If a casual chess experience for cheap is what you are looking for, this game is a good choice.
Review copy supplied by the publisher
Board GamecasualChessPC reviewZen ChessZen Chess: Mate in One