Chezzle review: it’s chess, but puzzles!
As one of the oldest games known to humanity, it’s hard to really do a lot in chess that hasn’t been done already. Like, chess is 1,500 years old, so we’ve had literal centuries to change things up — or, in the very least, figure out most (all?) of the possible permutations in any given game. Additionally, it’s not that hard to find video games delivering the chess experience, either. You know, because of the whole “been around forever” situation. What would something fresh and new in chess even look like?
While there have been a handful of new experiences in chess video games, few have really come close to the approachability I felt in Chezzle. Developed and self-published by TheDollarGameStore, Chezzle is “an endless, thought provoking, meditative Chess puzzler with a twist” where players “clear the board by chaining together moves.” Available on Steam for only $0.99, Chezzle is a great little puzzler that is complex enough to provide a challenge but simple enough to breeze through, making players feel pretty dang intelligent.
Chezzle opens up by recommending headphones for the experience, setting the volume loud enough to just barely hear the rain falling gently in the background. After that, it’ll run players through the ropes: chess pieces are scattered across a board, the goal of the game to clear them all. An assortment of pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, queens, and kings are all in various places, the game selecting a starting point of one piece highlighted in a violet hue. That piece can only move in its set pattern and must take a piece in its one move, so a rook can only move horizontally and vertically while a pawn must move one square diagonally and cannot go backwards.
Once a move has been made, the piece that was moved not only takes the place of the piece it killed, it becomes said piece. So if a pawn kills a knight, it becomes the knight; if a queen kills a king, it becomes the king. By chaining all these moves to clear the board entirely, players can breeze through an infinite amount of levels at a brisk yet brain-teasing pace.
The nice thing about Chezzle is, while playing, gentle music serenades, accompanying the light rain sounds. The raindrops will fall onto the periwinkle-colored background and make ripples as well, giving a really soothing ambiance while strategizing moves. I found myself playing Chezzle while working, completing a level or two in-between tasks. Keeping the music running in the background helped me focus on both the game and my work — a brief reprieve from stressful assignments that doesn’t suck you in like scrolling through social media can. I’d say I’m surprised that a video game would have these kinds of benefits, but it is chess so maybe it’s not really that crazy of a focus-hack discovery.
I don’t have too many complaints about a practically free game like Chezzle except for the messages that pop up every 10 levels. I know they’re supposed to be encouraging, and I fully admit that I’m being a bit sensitive, but I wasn’t feeling the messaging. “It’s never okay to quit” and a few others popped up on the screen that made me just kinda go “…oh :(.” I can see that the dev team was trying to provide some positivity, but it didn’t feel all that positive. And with the relaxing music not all that upbeat, the levels right after the messages got me down a little. It’s not a huge deal (and it won’t affect everyone this way), but if you’re in like one of those weird mental spaces, Chezzle’s messages might hit you funny.
Chezzle is a fantastic chess puzzler that provides a learning opportunity for those unfamiliar with chess while simultaneously offering complexity for those wanting a challenge. With its calming aesthetics and quick-burst gameplay, Chezzle is great for five minute sessions or playing while trying to focus on other tasks all day. If you want a classic kind of game that just about anyone can get the hang of and is insanely cheap, choosing Chezzle is a winning strategy.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: TheDollarGameStore; Developer: TheDollarGameStore; Players: 1; Released: October 5, 2021; MSRP: $0.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a retail copy of Chezzle provided by the publisher.