Latest Checkmate Turns Chess into a Roguelike

When it comes to classic strategy games, it’s hard to find a more traditional one than chess. Its deceptively simple rules and clever mechanics are part of the foundation of other strategy games that have followed in its wake, so it seems like it was only a matter of time before the “Game of Kings” becomes another entry in the mega-popular roguelike. genre. Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate is that game, and as the title suggests, this action-strategy roguelike aims to turn chess into a bizarre and hilarious mix of tactics and shotgun carnage.


Developed and published by small indie developer Punkcake Delicieux, Shotgun King chooses to throw much of what players may know out the window, instead choosing a chess-adjacent world where an abandoned royal piece must use their royal shotgun in a battle against the forces on the white side of the chessboard. Equally bizarre and awesome to play, Shotgun King seems to be the most Devolver Digital game not made by Devolver Digital, which is definitely a compliment.

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Shotgun King places players as the aforementioned black king’s chess piece who (after being betrayed by his army of pawns, rooks, knights and bishops) stands alone against the overwhelming forces of the white playing pieces. Accompanied only by his trusty royal shotgun, the Shotgun King must blast the white pieces to oblivion in tense and strategic turn-based battles while hopefully gaining powerful upgrades between the levels.


Shotgun King takes place in the aforementioned turn-based style, where players have one of three options each turn: move the piece, fire the shotgun, or reload the shotgun. As in chess, the Shotgun King can only move one space in any direction on the chessboard grid, and enemy pieces follow the same rules for each respective piece. The Shotgun King must race through each level that has a varying number of enemy pieces, moving and shooting each until victory, but also avoiding pieces that can defeat him with a single attack.

Each turn, the Shotgun King has two shields that will each take a hit from an enemy, allowing players to make some valuable mistakes before the level is complete. Like its traditional counterpart, levels can quickly turn into tense strategic battles, where every move could spell disaster, and players will need to aim the shotgun well to have any hope of success. Shotgun King features five difficulty levels, and even in normal times things can go south at any time. Each piece has its own health bar, and while pawns can be destroyed with a single blow, other pieces like the enemy king can take extra damage to send the board packing.


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The odds are clearly against the Shotgun King, but he doesn’t have to rely solely on his trusty royal firearm. By killing other enemies, the king can absorb their souls in the form of a usable card, which is a unique power-up that will allow the king to move like a knight piece or another powerful soldier piece for a additional mobility.

Additionally, between tiers, the king can choose from a random assortment of bonuses to help with the run, but at a cost. Each offers both a buff for the player and a buff for the enemy side, and players will need to be equally lucky and smart to set up a good power-up on every run. An example is the Blunderbuss, which adds firepower and shotgun spread to the Shotgun King, but at the cost of the white side by adding two knight pieces after 20 turns have passed on each board.


Ultimately, Shotgun King is another fresh idea in the burgeoning world of strategy-based roguelike, and a game that never takes itself too seriously. For those who’ve ever complained that chess needs a lot more shotgun blast, this hilarious indie game is a no-brainer and one of the most interesting new roguelikes of the year. Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate is now available on Steam.


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