Chess is one of the oldest and greatest games that humankind has come up with. Its deceptively simple rules are easy to learn yet near impossible to master. Hammerfall Publishing decided to take those rules and combine them with something a little more modern: the Warhammer 40,000 series, known the world over as complicated, time consuming, and rather expensive to play. The resulting game, Warhammer 40,000: Regicide, is an amusing mixture of the two that fuses the simple rules of chess with the tactics and abilities of Space Marines and Orks.
The story of Regicide deals with a company of Space Marines, the most iconic of the game’s factions, who must contend with a pack of Orks on a hostile planet. There isn’t very much to the story, but that isn’t really very important. What is important is that it looks good right off the mark. It’s a polished game, albeit with a dated looking engine, and the developers do well to make each unit distinct while still fitting to the theme of their faction.
To begin you have access to Orkz or Space Marines, with the option to play the story campaign, a quick skirmish, or an online match against other players. Other races can’t be unlocked, unfortunately, but clans and chapters of either default race can be unlocked through play. Experience is gained through combat and can be used to unlock new skills for your chess pieces to use after their movement. This allows for a surprising amount of customization, at least for a chess game.
Speaking of chess, Hammerfall Publishers may not have changed the game of chess, but they’ve certainly added to it. After the normal movement action in a standard game of chess you are given a number of Initiative Points that you can spend on to either attack the enemy with ranged or melee attacks, or use some skill to give you an advantage in another turn. Every action, combat, and kill are fully animated and may change depending on which piece is capturing which, much like an updated version of Battle Chess.
Sadly, the animations are where the game lets you down. Don’t get me wrong, they look good and are incredibly visceral, just like the game should be. But after you’ve seen them all once they lose a lot of their appeal, which quickly leads to mad smashing of the skip button after every turn. This isn’t unlike another mix-match of chess and something more…violent. Remember Battle Chess? Perhaps we will get some alternative animation packs from the developers further down the road, which would make this game all the better.
If you’re a fan of the Warhammer 40k franchise, or even just a fan of chess, give Warhammer 40,000: Regicide a shot. At under twenty bucks it’s not an expensive entry to Hammerfall’s incredibly popular series, and there’s plenty to unlock and plenty of skulls to smash in the Multiplayer.