Unlock The King – Nintendo Switch Review

Review code supplied by QUByte Interactive

For nearly 1500 years, Chess has wracked the minds of many amatuers, enthusiasts and would-be Grandmasters. A game so recognisable, with a basic ruleset so approachable, that most people are born with a genetic imprint giving them pre-birth knowledge of the pastime. Unlock The King takes the Chess ruleset, and attempts to turn it into an easy to pick-up, hard to master, single player puzzler.

Each of the 100 levels on offer in Unlock The King tasks you with one, recurring, objective – to clear the path, so the King can move to the designated position. Blocking your Monarch’s intrepid advance, are other Chess pieces, scattered amongst various floating platforms. Each piece is modelled after a traditional Chess piece, such as Knights, Bishops and Rooks. These pieces are bound to their classic movement restrictions, and there lies the entirety of Unlock The King‘s gameplay – figure out what to move, where to move them, and then repeat until you have ran out of patience, or levels.

Despite its narrow focus, Unlock The King doesn’t manage to deliver a flawless experience. Firstly, if you have no prior knowledge of Chess, the movement mechanics may take a while to grasp, as there’s no tutorial. Secondly, unlike most puzzle games, the mechanics are never expanded upon. You will have seen everything the game has to offer long before your twentieth level, and at that point, it becomes difficult to justify going on. 

It is a simple game, with a simple premise, toting an equally simple graphical style. The whole game has a pseudo futuristic, neon, Tron-like aesthetic. It’s appealingly clean, and fits the gameplay perfectly. Everything can be identified with a mere glance, and with a fully malleable camera, you can navigate the various puzzles with ease. It’s a beautiful simplicity that has been honed, and refined. This is supported by a soundtrack that lightly tickles your temporal lobe with its diaphanous ambience. It comes together to deliver a very relaxing, laid back experience.

Something worth noting, is the games comprehensive touchscreen support. This makes controlling the game an absolute joy, and a perfect handheld time-waster. Not enough games take advantage of the Switch’s unique features, so it is nice to see a budget title like this, go that extra mile.

Unlock The King is a game for a very specific kind of gamer, and even then, it might not do enough to hold your attention to its conclusion. That being said, this is a budget game, at a budget price. If Chess is your thing, then there are worse things you could spend your money on.

Are you a Chess afficianado? Does Unlock The King tickle you fancy? Let me know in the comments below!

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