Chess-based, card-based, roguelike dungeon crawler. And you might as well throw puzzler on top of it too. That’s quite a mouthful of genre blending, but solo developer Jan Wojtecki’s Pawnbarian seems to really be onto something with that mega mashup. The idea is that you’ll play cards from your deck in order to move your player through each floor of a dungeon, defeating enemies, collecting items, and moving ever deeper. You know, dungeon crawler-y stuff. The interesting twist is that the cards in the deck are based on the pieces in Chess, and your movement abides by the same movement rules as they do. So if you play a Knight card (that’s the horsey card for plebs like myself) you’ll need to move in an L-shape. The Rook lets you move in straight horizontal or vertical lines, the Bishop in diagonal lines, the Queen goes wherever the hell she wants, etc. You don’t need to be a Chess expert to play Pawnbarian as the game helpfully highlights the available squares you can move to for each card, and it also highlights the squares where enemies will be able to attack you. Here is some footage showing what Pawnbarian’s gameplay is like on mobile.
Originally this started off as an entry in the 7 Day Roguelike game jam, and was so well received that the developer decided to expand on it and release it as a full game. It’s actually been a pretty open development process and the game has been playable in beta form on desktop since last year. You can check out a playable web demo of the game by hitting up the official website, and while you’re there you can also sign up if you’d like to take part in the beta testing for the mobile version of Pawnbarian. This is exactly the type of game that would be perfect for mobile and it definitely gives me vibes of some of the platform’s strategy classics like Hoplite. The full release of Pawnbarian on mobile and desktop is planned for sometime this year so we’ll keep an eye out for a date.