Chess Knights: Shinobi Review

Developed by Minimol Games and published by QUByte Interactive, Chess Knights: Shinobi is the next puzzling game in line following on from Chess Knights: Vikings. Looking graphically pleasant, with a backing track that is not too intrusive this little puzzler should tickle the taste buds for those that enjoy some movement puzzles based on the pieces from Chess.

As with the previous Chess Knights game, there is a minor narrative to the game where you have to evade the enemies movement lines and get to the escape point. Sometimes you need to rescue a comrade too.

You play the part of the knight chess piece who is also a shinobi. The scenes of the levels have a strong Japanese feel to them. The enemies vary and seem to be wearing Kasa’s which are a traditional Japanese hat. Some enemies seem to be dressed as Samurai too. You can only move as a knight chess piece can in which you can only move in an L shaped pattern. This unique movement is what makes the puzzles work. The enemies which tend to be mostly castle/rook pieces or bishop pieces can only move in a direct line, with the castle/rooks only able to move in a straight line and the bishop can move diagonally.

The game boasts 50 levels with 10 secret levels. The first few levels are quite simple and break you in nicely. The difficulty then begins to ramp up quite quickly and the puzzles start to become a real challenge. You don’t need to be able to play chess to be able to play and beat these puzzles but you do feel a bit more at ease if you are familiar with chess, as with chess you stand a better chance if you plan your next moves after your current move. Unlike in chess, you cannot take the enemy pieces. You have to evade the enemies attack path and reach the exit point.

There are extra features included in this game from the previous Vikings entry. They have included bushes that allow your piece to be hidden from the view of the enemy. There are also teleports which take you from one square to another. This increases the trickiness of some of the puzzles and really makes you think about how you will plan your moves. But no worries if you fail as you can always try again.

My only gripe is the same as the previous game in the series; where you turn the camera to help make your moves. The stick which moves your piece doesn’t change with the camera angle. So if you’re aiming left expecting to move your piece in that direction then it won’t always be the case. You have to revert the view to the default view for the aiming arrow to match where you are holding the left stick.

Conclusion

Chess Knights: Shinobi is a short simple puzzle game that has put some effort into its graphical display. The chess pieces and the level design captures the Japanese Edo era well enough. The puzzles range from simple and ramp-up to fiendishly difficult quite quickly so don’t expect to whizz through the game with ease.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Pretty graphics
  • Challenging puzzles
Bad
  • No real replay value
  • The same aiming issue remains
6.1
Okay
Gameplay - 6.5
Graphics - 7
Audio - 7
Longevity - 4
Written by
Gaming, or, games in general, are in my blood. Just shy of an addiction but still an obsession. From opening my mind on the Commodore 64 I have kept up with the generations of gaming, currently residing on the Xbox One. Gamertag: Grahamreaper

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