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  • Writer's pictureRoberto Nieves

Review - Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate

Before there were video games, there were board games. Before there were board games, there was Chess. Chess is instrumental in teaching the basic rules of strategy. Over the decades, the game has been in the spotlight. In 1997, famed chess player Garry Kasparov played Chess with an IBM computer and lost. Netflix recently aired the acclaimed Queens Gambit. Now, Head Bang Studios has introduced a new iteration of Chess with a unique presentation and a shotgun. 

Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate is a surprisingly delightful roguelike that puts a wonderful spin on a historical game. It's a tight gameplay experience filled with attitude and personality. While the experience might be a bit light on content, it's a remarkable take on a game that once stood in the throne rooms of kings and queens. 

Your Mother Smelled of Elderberries

The Black King is angry. All of his subjects have abandoned him. He wishes to seize the kingdom for himself against the White King. To do so, he's going to employ a most dastardly weapon. It's a weapon with a thunderous book that does fearsome damage to those who unknowingly see themselves on the receiving end. That weapon is a shotgun. Taking the shotgun, The Black King takes his vengeance. 

Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate puts players on a chess board. The same rules of Chess still apply. The twist is it is you against an entire army. Pawns, rooks, knights, and the rest of the ensemble fill the board. The goal is to win and use the full power of the shotgun. Winning each board allows for new perks. Some perks add a negative effect, like a shorter range. Others add great effects, such as tighter spread. 

I've Come Here to Chew Bubblegum and Win Chess

Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate still plays as a traditional chess game, moving diagonally and using turn-based mechanics. The enemies movie in their respective patterns and follow Chess rules. The catch is that the Black Knight, the one player on the board, is armed with a shotgun. On the player’s turn, players can shoot their shotgun, destroying their enemies. It’s a simple but profound twist that turns this historical table game into an exciting strategic action roguelike. 

There is a contagious satisfaction in using a boomstick to take out chess pieces. It seems unfair but delightful, knowing there are brains being used with each turn. Shotgun King is a game all about attitude on the chessboard. Each shot has a vicious blast, which is not only seen but felt in the rumble of the controls as well. The game wants players to feel as delightfully malevolent as The Black Knight. It’s a gameplay mechanic that works remarkably well as a strategic action game but triumphs as a roguelike. The genre is dependent on a gameplay hook where players want to keep playing. Shotgun King nails that. 

I am the Shotgun King

Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate features traditional roguelike elements. Each completed board allows for perks that can be a detriment or an addition. Some perks allow for a tighter spread but less damage. Other perks allow for a wide range but more opponents on the board. Destroying more important pieces, like the Knight, allows for special abilities. For example, after blowing up a King, I could move like a King. It's a tight and simple formula that kept me coming back. 

Accompanying Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate is a brilliant presentation that feels rustic and unmodern. Its pixelation with very basic colors evoke a moody atmosphere. Chess has always been a battle of wits and mindset; Shotgun King is no different, even if a firearm changes the rules. The soundtrack is also effective, underscoring this silly but dark take on revenge and seizing power. 


There are many roguelikes out there. They are a dime a dozen these days. To enter the genre, one has to be very different. Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate is one such game, and it works swimmingly well. It's presentation is sharp, but it's gameplay is sharper. 

Perhaps the biggest setback is the depth. Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate encouraged players to clear 12 boards. The twelfth board is the final. As easy as it sounds, it's far from it. This makes repeat gameplay a must. There is an achievement system that players can strive for, as well as various shotguns and perks. There is plenty of depth for those who want to dive into the game more.

Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate is a solid game that rethinks the tried-and-true roguelike formula and dials back to a game that we should all respect for establishing the rules of what a game is. Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate should be in your library on your preferred platform.

Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate was reviewed thanks to a key generously supplied to stack up thanks to Popaganda.

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