Chess Knights – Viking Land is a puzzle game from the developers at Minimol Games. It takes the classic concept of chess and turns it into something completely different and original. If you appreciate the art of chess, chances are you’ll find enjoyment here, too.

The concept is simple; you play the role of a knight—as in, the chess piece—tasked with rescuing various other pieces from a special area on a grid-based board. It’s not the typical 8×8 chess board you’re probably familiar with. Instead, it changes shape and size with each level, and includes obstacles and safe spaces. 

Nintendo Switch eShop - Chess Knights - Viking Lands - screen 2

Your knight moves the typical way—three spaces forward and two across, or two forward and three across. It’s always been the oddest of the chess pieces, and one I typically don’t enjoy using (not being a chess master myself), but it’s nice to see this piece take the center stage for once. To complete a level, your knight must move through the board, rescue the stranded piece(s), and return to the base without being killed.

Enemies come in the form of chess pieces, too—namely rooks (or castles), bishops, and queens. This is where a prior knowledge of chess can be helpful, since you’ll know how each piece works. Basically, rooks move in a straight line, bishops move diagonally, and queens can do both. 

Nintendo Switch eShop - Chess Knights - Viking Lands - screen 01

The controls are fine, but not perfect. I like that you can zoom in and out, and rotating is essential to get the full view of each scene. However, it can be a little fiddly to orientate yourself to find that sweet spot. Also, moving your piece is slightly cumbersome; it feels like the analog stick is too sensitive. On the plus side, you can also use the touchscreen in handheld mode, which is a great feature.

There’s plenty of content in Chess Knights. The game is divided into four worlds, each comprising ten levels. There’s even a handful of bonus levels to unlock after completing each world. You can revisit any level you’ve completed, though there’s not much point. Some incentive to replay would go a long way to extending the game’s life. Perhaps future iterations could include a star rating, earned by keeping your knights alive, completing within a time limit, or by only using a certain number of moves. In the end, it’s designed as a more relaxing title, which can also be appreciated.

Nintendo Switch eShop - Chess Knights - Viking Lands - screen 4

Graphically, the game is set in the snowy landscapes of Scandinavia, fitting nicely with its Viking title. The falling snow and the bleak backgrounds are the perfect setting for playing this puzzle game on a cold day. The ambient music adds to this relaxing mood, with a tune that melts nicely into the background without becoming distracting. The piano-based melody adds to the snowy nordic atmosphere, helping you fall deeper into this world. 

Overall, Chess Knights – Viking Land provides hours of puzzle-based gameplay using a twist on the usual chess formula. With some additional incentives to replay, and a little more finesse in the controls, this could be a must-have puzzle game. As it is, it’s still worth checking out for puzzle fans, particularly anyone with a penchant for chess.