Chess with a shotgun works better than you think. While it sounds absurd on paper, Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate is a simple yet tightly designed roguelike strategy title that turns the measured, tactical board game into something novel and unique. However, just because you're given a firearm, that doesn't mean you can switch your brain off.

Playing as the black king, you face off against increasingly large armies of white pieces. On your turn, you can move, do nothing, or shoot, with the former two actions reloading your gun. The objective is to destroy the white king, but all pieces in play (including you) move as they normally do in chess. This means you can't just plough through and blast the king away; enemies will often put you in check, and you'll have to get out of it. Similarly, killing a piece might open up a path for a different one to take you, so you do need to pay attention to the whole board.

As you progress through 12 levels, you unlock pretty powerful perks. The twist is that the enemy gets a perk too. Choosing an upgrade means also choosing one for the opposition, which is a clever way to keep things balanced and forces you to play in different ways. Another ability at your disposal is temporarily imitating the movement of the last piece you killed, which can get you out of a jam. This, your passive buffs, and some extra perks like grenades are always useful but never carry you — it's still a strategy game at heart.

It's a very concise game with a laser focus on its core idea. Framing the action with lo-fi presentation and a daft plot about the black army defecting to the white kingdom, it feels like a forgotten 90s PC game. To that point, there's not much to it beyond the main mode, though there are extras for clearing it — Endless mode is self-explanatory while Chase mode is a interesting take on survival. It's a tight-knit package that, while repetitive in the end, succeeds with its less-is-more approach.