Warhammer: Regicide was always going to be a difficult game to make. On the surface the idea of a Chess game using characters and powers from Games Workshop’s venerated 40K universe may seem a relatively straightforward — if slightly odd — goal. However, the challenge was always going to be in balancing the two sides so that Regicide ended up as something unique rather then a confusing mush or a straight up Chess match.
So, do the good folks at Hammerfall Studios succeed in this balancing act? Well we got our hands on a preview code for Regicide and have spent a few weeks playing through, so read on to hear our thoughts.
First things first: Regicide is visually stunning. The relatively sedate pace of the gameplay means that a lot of character detail can be included for every piece on the checkered board. When characters do move, the animations are fluid, interesting, and (when it comes time for combat) often brutal and gory. A lot of attention has been paid to even small details like the imperial sigil on a Bolter or the shell casings dropping from weapons and this can really help draw you into the game right at the start.
The level of detail carries through to the sound with a muted, sombre score setting the scene perfectly for the darkness of the far future and solid voice acting helping to bring some life to the Space Marines and Orks facing off across the board.
Unfortunately, once these positive opening touches draw you in, it becomes apparent that the gameplay hasn’t been given the same level of polish. While Regicide is certainly playable and even quite entertaining, it errs too close to the side of Chess and ultimately misses out on what could of been a really interesting fusion.
A match in Regicide unfolds exactly like a Chess game, with each side having a variety of pieces that can only move in set patterns or distances while taking turns to move one piece at a time in an effort to kill the opposing king. While the pieces have been given a 40K makeover (Bishops are Devastator Marines, Knights are Assault Marines, etc.) their mechanics remain untouched and, if you’ve played any chess simulator, you’ll quickly get to grips with the basics here.
The twist in Regicide is that, as well as operating with the standard rules of Chess, each piece has a variety of powers it can use to aid in taking down the enemy. Most of these relate to damaging distant pieces (Shooting, Assault, Grenades) and use a certain amount of power each time their used. You also have team powers that can be selected seperately and provide more powerful bonuses.
In a perfect world these mechanics would help to explode some of the staler tactics in Chess by taking away the safety of covering pawns or the certainty of some strategies, but in practice, none of the powers had enough of an effect to really effect the game. In order to win it is simply much quicker to simply take pieces the old fashioned way.
That’s a real shame because sometimes there are moments — like when a team of pawns take down the opposing queen in a hail of bolter fire (Praise the Emperor) — where you see flashes of potential that is just never fully realized.
During my play through, the campaign — a fully imagined story with special scenarios — wasn’t available, so there’s a chance this will help to shake up the game. But as it stands, the mechanics feel underpowered at best and token at worst.
Warhammer:Regicide is still shaping up to be a pretty fun Chess simulator for those looking interested in a new, strategic gaming experience.
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