Haven Review: Rooks Keep

rooksFirst up is our disclaimer.  We received this game for review purposes only. All opinions in this article our are own and no money has been tendered for this review.

If someone were to ask what is history’s most enduring board game, Chess is the obvious answer. While not the oldest extant board game, Chess takes the top spot for sheer international appeal.

Since the dawn of electronics, attempts have been made to improve the game through artificial intelligence. There was even an 18th century chess-playing “machine”, but it turned out to be just a human hidden under a tablecloth, moving pieces around with magnets.

Enter Rooks Keep, from RuneStorm Games. Here we have a twist not seen since Activision‘s classic board clash, Archon: The Light and the Dark (1983).RK-Oct12-02In Rooks Keep, battle is conducted in two phases: Third-person RPG, followed by a chess board battle arena. In the RPG phase, you first select to play either with the Light pieces (representing Good) or the Dark pieces (Evil). Then you select a playable character based on actual Chess pieces. Do not assume that Queens and Rooks are more powerful than Bishops, Knights and Pawns. In RPG, each piece has separate skills that need to be honed if you are to master this game.

RPG’s gameplay itself has you running around a rendered map, swinging melee weapons and casting spells at your opponents (either AI or human). As you succeed in combat you’ll acquire new skills, as well as level-up your existing skills. This all goes to better your character for the Chess board phase to come.RK4When all of your Chess pieces have obtained sufficient skills, you can head to the classic game board. Here a new battle begins, based on the standard rules of Chess. But wait, there’s more! Whenever a piece is attacked on the board, the offense does not automatically capture it. Instead, both pieces are transported to a small circular arena located just off the edge of the board, where they engage in a short RPG skirmish.RK5The piece that wins the skirmish retains possession of the square back on the Chess board! So the moral here is to refrain from board play until your pieces’ RPG skills are up for it. rook2Overall, Rooks Keep is a great take on what could be called the most classic game of all time. It’s especially fun to pit an RPG expert against a Chess expert; both become completely frustrated, but for opposite reasons! Suffice it to say that you’ll need to be good at both skills if you’re going to win. If all else fails, you can simply play in “regular” Chess mode and enjoy a casual game, without all the bloodshed.

-Chris Roberts-

Rooks Keep Scale