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When Chess Gets Too Trying, Try These Instead

Chess is a game that has stood the test of time. It's the ultimate test of strategy, forward planning and cunning. While there are some games that offer a computer chess experience, more interesting are games that use chess as inspiration.

These games use the familiar movement of the pieces, the ability to plan ahead and the standard grid layout as part of their video game challenge. Although this may sound like a bad idea (why not just play proper chess) many offer a nuanced and intriguing experience. They also have the benefit of being an on-ramp to the world of chess that can be unapproachable.

The games in this list all have chess-like elements, are turn-based and usually played in a grid playfield.

This list includes 50 games from the last 28 years, with 219 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to enjoy chess-like play.

DetailsList Details

PEGI Ratings: PEGI 3 to PEGI 16
ESRB Ratings: ESRB EVERYONE to ESRB MATURE 17+
Australian Ratings: G to MA 15+
Genres: Action, Adventure, Brain Game, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Platform, Point-and-Click, Puzzle, Race, Role-Play, Sequencing, Shooting, Simulation, Stealth, Strategy and Traversal
Total Likes: 219
 

 

Corrypt

Release Date: 18/12/2012, updated in 2017

Platforms: Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Corrypt is a role-playing puzzle game where you collect items and interact with characters in a maze filled with moveable boxes. In a novel twist, you can push and pull the boxes, but they stick to you, making it a challenge to move them out of the way...

Imbroglio

Release Date: 18/05/2016, updated in 2020

Platforms: iOS

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Imbroglio is a puzzle game where you take a character into a dungeon and progress by collecting stars. The twist is that combat is focused not only your abilities but the tile you are standing on when you attack. Although each character has different...

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Release Date: 29/08/2017

Platforms: Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Mario and Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a chess-like strategy game where you control cartoon rabbits (the Rabbids) and Nintendo characters in turn-based battles with fantastical weapons through four different worlds.

Potion Craft

Release Date: 21/09/2021

Platforms: Mac and PC

Potion Craft is a puzzle adventure game where you create potions in an ancient looking workshop. More than learning recipes, your potions need to strategically combine the qualities of each ingredient to explore the potion-map and create brews to help...

Transformers: Battlegrounds

Release Date: 23/10/2020

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Transformers: Battlegrounds is a strategy game that's accessible for a range of abilities. It offers a robot-themed XCOM style game for younger players.

Bad North

Release Date: 31/10/2018, updated in 2018

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Bad North is a stylised strategy fighting game. You control an army defending an island and must train and develop your forces efficiently. The simple visuals and knife-edge Viking combat along with the jeopardy of losing precious troops make this a lot...

Patrick's Parabox

Release Date: 29/03/2022

Platforms: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Patrick's Parabox is a puzzle game where you move, and move through, boxes within boxes. Like a Russian doll, inside each box is another level that you can navigate to create a nested set of puzzles. It's an equally mind-bending and elegant experience...

Babble Royale

Release Date: 15/12/2021

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Babble Royale is a puzzle word game played against 16 other players online. You simultaneously race to make words as in Scrabble. Here though, you do this to inch across the board and stay out of the encroaching storm.

Into The Breach

Release Date: 27/02/2018, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, Stadia, Switch and iOS

Into the Breach is a fantasy turn-based battle. It's set in a future where humanity fights an army of giant monsters. You control mechs equipped with a variety of weapons and armour in carefully coordinate actions played out on super-small tile-based...

Stormbound Kingdom Wars

Release Date: 18/09/2017, updated in 2019

Platforms: Android and iOS

Pieces: Cards

Stormbound is a strategic battle game combining Chess and Clash Of Clans gameplay. You build an army by earning cards for different units, defences and abilities. These have to be carefully chosen to do well in the battles...

No Plan B

Release Date: 01/12/2021

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

No Plan B is a tactical role-play game where you plan missions to neutralise various threats. Unusually, you don't directly control your team during the action. Instead, you plan orders for them ahead of time then watch as they execute your commands in...

XCOM (Series)

Release Date: 01/01/1994, updated in 2017

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

X-Com (which became XCOM) is a science fiction strategic battle game where you control units to stop an alien invasion. The long running series has come in many forms, but always has in common the finely tuned turn-based ground combat where you control...

Clubhouse Games (Series)

Release Date: 29/09/2006, updated in 2020

Platforms: DS and Switch

Clubhouse Games, is a series that offers classic board and card games in one large bundle. It's not only great value but introduces children to a wide range of real-world games to play with the family.

Chessplosion

Release Date: 21/09/2021

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Chessplosion is an action, puzzle game where you drop chess pieces on a board to trigger bombs in the shape of their related chess moves. Your aim is to use the different pieces (and bomb attacks) to trap opponents like Bomberman. No prior chess...

How To Say Goodbye

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

How to Say Goodbye is a narrative puzzle game where you interact with the illustrations to help a group of ghosts reach the other side. As you progress you discover the story of a character recently turned into a ghost and lost in an unknown world. Your...

Tres Undos

Release Date: 03/01/2022

Platforms: Web

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Tres Undo is a hard puzzle game where you move blocks around a maze to fill holes and progress. The twist is that you can rewind time. On top of this the game layers the rewind ability to affect different elements differently. Then there are locations...

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp (Series)

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS, GBA, Wii and Wii U

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp is a re-release of the classic turn-based strategy game on Nintendo Switch. You take charge of an army in strategic, turn-based combat. With land, air, and naval units across the battlefield, you work to take down enemy...

Auto Chess

Release Date: 18/04/2019

Platforms: Android, PC, PS4 and iOS

Auto Chess is a strategy game where you set-up automated actions to gain a competitive advantage. As you play you purchase units that will battle for you, each unit has different attributes that can collaborate with other units. The goal ultimately is...

Bomb Club

Release Date: 02/08/2021, updated in 2022

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Bomb Club is a puzzle game where you use an arsenal of whacky bombs to clear the board with a chain reaction. You place and trigger the bombs to ensure a single chain and complete the level. It's a novel combination of fun explosions and puzzle solving...

Bonfire Peaks

Release Date: 30/09/2021

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, PS5 and Switch

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Bonfire Peaks is a puzzle game where you explore a Minecraft-looking world. Unlike the generalised blocks of that game, here the landscape is lovingly crafted and pulsing with life. It's a tightly designed puzzle game about closure, that invites you to...

Cinco Paus

Release Date: 25/12/2017, updated in 2021

Platforms: iOS

Cinco Paus is a puzzle game where you try and get through 5 rooms picking up treasure as you go. What makes it unusual are the magic wands that help you do this. What appears to be a maze game turns out to be a challenge to discover the effects of each...

Pawnbarian

Release Date: 24/09/2021

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Pawnbarian is a puzzle game where you attack enemies in a dungeon based on chess moves. You build a deck of different pieces and use them in battles

Shotgun King

Release Date: 12/05/2022

Platforms: PC

Shotgun King is a gruesome game of chess where you play a single piece with a shotgun. It combines turn-based strategic runs with classic chess moves. It's a game of Chess where all your comrades have gone to the other side (and you found a firearm).

Tactical Breach Wizards

Release Date: Coming soon

Platforms: PC

Tactical Breach Wizards is a small-scale, turn-based fighting and shooting game. You play a team of wizards in modern-day tactical gear, breaching and clearing rooms full of enemies with a combination of guns, abilities and spells.

Bloks (Sokpop)

Release Date: 30/12/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Bloks is a strategy puzzle game where you place Tetris-style blocks to construct a planet. You place different elements and land so that you can create humans and build them a spaceship. A unique combination of Tetris-style block puzzle, element...

Chroma Squad

Release Date: 30/04/2015, updated in 2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Chroma Squad is a strategy game themed around the The Power Rangers TV show. Rather than the heroes, you play the stunt actors who quit the show to start their own Power Rangers-inspired series. Rather than kill enemies in the turn based encounters,...

Fights in Tight Spaces

Release Date: 01/09/2020

Platforms: PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Pieces: Cards

Fights in Tight Spaces is a turn based fighting game where you use your deck of cards to win combat battles in small rooms and other locations. As you progress you gain more cards and build a deck tailored to each battle.

Hearthstone: Battlegrounds

Release Date: 12/11/2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Pieces: Cards

Battlegrounds is a strategic fighting game mode in Hearthstone, where you collect and upgrade cards and pit your deck against 7 other players. Buy and sell the best cards, upgrade their abilities and more as you uncover winning strategies in this highly...

Knight's Retreat

Release Date: 11/02/2021

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Knight's Retreat is a chess-themed puzzle game. It's not played on a chess board, but the pieces do move as they usually do. Rather than check-mate, your aim is to get your Knights back to their home squares in each level.

Not Chess

Release Date: 15/11/2020, updated in 2021

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Not Chess is a puzzle game similar to Chess, but you only have one piece, which morphs into whatever piece you take. It's a simple way of getting to grips with some of the basic rules of chess in a low-pressure, single-player environment, while also...

Puddle Knights

Release Date: 07/10/2020

Platforms: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Puddle Knights is a puzzle game where you use your cape to protect nobles from stepping in mud. While it may not challenge the ruling elites, it does create an intriguing challenge with steadily increasing difficulty.

Really Bad Chess

Release Date: 13/10/2016, updated in 2017

Platforms: Android, iOS and iPhone, iPad

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Really Bad Chess is like chess, but with random pieces selected for each player. Try 8 Knights, 4 Bishops, and 3 pawns. Starting positions are also non-standard. It sounds like a bad idea (hence the name) but actually opens the imposing chess challenge...

Snakebird

Release Date: 04/05/2015

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Snakebird is a puzzle game about movement, shapes and gravity. You control multiple snakes on a quest for fruit. You move around the world by directing each one to collect fruit. It looks simple, but the novelty is that you soon have to create specific...

Spaceland

Release Date: 30/10/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and iPhone, iPad

Spaceland is a quick turn-based strategy game where you command sci-fi troopers to shoot, kick, blow up and destroy the enemy. It's a little like a game of chess as you equip and plan your missions, before carefully moving and attacking on your turn.

Twinfold

Release Date: 14/11/2018, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Twinfold is a puzzle fighting game played in a small maze. You move around the maze with your square character merging into golden baby cubes to gain energy and squashing angry enemy cubes.

Wargroove

Release Date: 01/02/2019

Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

This is a fantasy war game, similar to Advanced Wars from the Gameboy era, where players take turns in a variety of battles. Computer-controlled and human opponents compete to achieve objectives and be the last player remaining.

Chezzle

Release Date: 05/10/2021

Platforms: PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Chezzle is similar to chess, but here you only have one piece that changes to whatever you take. It features a relaxing soundscape and encouraging messages, and allows you to get the grips of the rules of chess at your own pace while also creating a...

Concrete Jungle

Release Date: 23/09/2015

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Pieces: Cards

Concrete Jungle is a city-building puzzle game. It's the follow up for MegaCity. Rather than manage resources like a traditional city management strategy game, here you place cards to create buildings, parks, amenities and services on each square. The...

Dungeons of Dreadrock

Release Date: 15/03/2022

Platforms: Android, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Dungeons of Dreadrock is a retro adventure game with exploration and fighting but with a main focus on puzzles.

Floppy Knights

Release Date: 24/05/2022

Platforms: Mac, PC and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Pieces: Cards

Floppy Knights is an adventure where you battle enemies using cards and turn-based strategy. With your robot, Carlton, and a group of virtual knights, you must liberate your town from hostile invaders. It looks like Advance Wars but has a unique blend...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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