The Game Slush Pile

Pawn of the Dead Switch Review

PlatformNintendo Switch
Release Date12/30/2021
PublisherForever Entertainment
ESRB RatingE10+

Pawn of the Dead is a game based on chess, where you can play classic chess, but also engage in numerous chess puzzles, including a sixty-four level campaign. The chess puzzles are mostly played in an interesting variation. You are the white pieces, the white king and queen both must stay alive. The black pieces are undead. The undead pawns can move forwards and backwards. All the other pieces except the black king turn a white piece into a black piece. This can make things even trickier, as you’ll now have more enemies to contend with. Also, in classical chess, if the king can’t move, but isn’t in check, it forces a stalemate. Here, the black king just vanishes.

Pawn of the Dead Switch Review
There is an actual story line to the campaign, with voiced cut scenes.

The main meat of Pawn of the Dead is the campaign, sixty-four increasingly difficult chess puzzles in three difficulty levels. The difficulty levels seem to govern the smartness of the AI, though I found that the AI isn’t particularly smart in general(a problem I’ve found with other Switch chess games). Still, the puzzles do get trickier as the campaign goes on, but there is a solution to all of them that can be shown.

Pawn of the Dead Switch Review
The queen is actually in trouble here, as the undead pawn can move backwards.

Outside of the campaign, there are several other modes in Pawn of the Dead. Let’s go through them:

Pawn of the Dead Switch Review
Random chess boards

First, there are random chess board puzzles, either under special or classical rules. You cannot get shown a solution to these, however.

Queen Vs. Zombies

There is a queen vs. Zombie mode, where the queen needs to prevent the pawns from reaching row one.

Classical Chess

Finally, you can play regular chess with regular rules. But as I’ve said, the AI isn’t particularly smart. Even on hardened difficulty, I still wiped the floor with the AI, and I’m really not that good.

So I’m left with a conundrum, what verdict to give Pawn of the Dead? I think I’ll give a YMMV, because if you’re a chess novice, you may love this, but if you’re a chess master, you might not get much out of this.

Overall: Pawn of Dead has an interesting concept, but is really for novices only. Chess masters will find this way too easy.

Verdict: YMMV

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