When I first heard that this game was Warhammer meets chess, I was reminded of the old Battle Chess games and its many spinoffs over the years (the old Star Wars one was always a favorite of mine). Then when I fired it up, it actually had a mode that was basically Battle Chess. For those unfamiliar with that game, it is chess in its purest of forms... until creatures start dismembering one another with weapons. Then? It's basically chess in its bloodiest form instead. It is still a good time, even if the engine is probably not a threat to titles like Pure Chess or Fritz Chess. At the very least it's more visually engaging.
This is helped by the incredibly detailed characters. Both sides look great, though I do wish there was more than the one set of animations for the various kills. Still, it is a bloody, messy good time. However, the Regicide mode puts some extra meat on these bones, and for the most part it does deliver. Basically, you are still playing chess - but with some added weaponry. The surefire way to kill a piece is through a traditional chess move, but failing that, you can fall back on weapons from units to perform special attacks. Some units have more effective attacks than others, and it really is all about luck. You get a percentage indicator showing you your chances of landing said attack, but you will miss some you feel like should have hit and you will land the occasional lucky shot that you thought was never going to work.
This mode is a great deal of fun, because you have to think outside of the box. Did your queen slip into the enemy territory and imperil the king? That's nice - but he probably just unloaded some special attacks to take her out in a way the pieces could not do so traditionally. Every now and then I got suckered into situations like this, but that was okay - because each player can only leverage these special attacks so many times.
There is also a nice RPG element tucked in, as pieces can progress over time and with use. They do so far more effectively in the campaign mode, which is interesting for a few reasons. One, the campaign actually does tell an interesting story that Warhammer fans should be happy with. The accompanying voice acting is excellent, and should be familiar to fans of the Warhammer 40,000 video game series. Additionally, the stages are set up like puzzles where you have to try and figure them out in one of a handful of specific ways.
So with all of this good, there is some bad that needs to be mentioned. For one, progressing your characters is a grind. I suspect that is intentional, and something you find in a lot of RPG games anyways, but because the variety here is a bit more limited, the wear and tear of the grind got to me just a bit more quickly than it does in a traditional RPG. The other issue is just the amount of sheer luck at play. Certainly you can miss with a higher percentage as I mentioned before, but it sure seems like the AI gets more breaks than I did. Of course, it is probably sour grapes on my part for having some of my matches blown open by what seemed like long odds, but with a game that relies so heavily on probability, it can be frustrating and sometimes leave you questioning the math behind the scenes.
In all, Warhammer 40,000: Regicide deserves credit for bringing something unique to the world of chess. Not everything is handled flawlessly, but by and larger Regicide gets more right than wrong along the way. Fans of chess should enjoy the base game, fans of Warhammer will no doubt appreciate the excellent use of the property and even tactics fans may find Regicide a nice change of pace as well.
Article by Nick