Indiewatch – 5D Chess with Multiverse Time Travel is about as confusing as it sounds

5D Chess has become slang for thinking several steps ahead of someone else. But what would 5D chess actually look like? Well, now you can actually play a game of 5D chess with the release of this new indie game, 5D Chess with Multiverse Time Travel. It’s about as confusing as it sounds, and it’s incredibly addictive.

So how do you play 5D Chess? Well, you start by playing, well, Chess. You get all the pieces you would normally get in a chess game and each time it’s your turn you can use them like you normally would.

The thing is, you can also move pieces forward and back through time, and this actually requires you to think about dimensions in a different way. For example, you have to think about chess moves as a combination of axes. What does that mean? Let me explain.

A rook can move any number of spaces in one direction. In normal chess, this means up/down and left/right. However, in 5D chess, time is another axis. So your rook can also move any number of spaces forward and back in time. It would say where it is on the board when you move it, it just teleports from one point in time to a previous point in the match.

Knights can move two spaces in one direction and one in another. One of those directions can be time. Move two spaces right and one space back to the past. Bishops can move diagonally which means they can move the same amount of spaces on two axes. So you can move a bishop right three spaces and then three spaces back in time if you want to.

Following me so far?

Now, time is only one axis that you can move on. The other axis you can move on is through multiple dimensions. What does that mean? Well, 5D chess resolved time-travel through many worlds. That is to say, if you send a piece back in time, it now spins off its own unique timeline where the future is different. Think about how Dragon Ball Z resolves it’s time travel paradoxes, and you’ll get an idea.

Once you have more than one timeline in play, you need to make moves in every single timeline the game exists in. One of the ways you can move is between timelines. So if your king is in check, you can move him one space through the timelines to a timeline where he isn’t in check.

The thing is each timeline you create makes the game more complicated. Why is this? Because the rules of chess remain the same. All you need to do is checkmate the opponent’s king. Any king. In any timeline. Of course, kings can move back in time and across the timeline to avoid this checkmate. However, you can only ever move one king in one timeline at once. What happens if you threaten a king in more than one timeline? Well, you can move one to escape check, but the other remains in check. Checkmate. What if you manage to set up the same check throughout multiple timelines? Checkmate. What if your opponent keeps traveling back in time to avoid checkmate? Then eventually multiple instances of his king will be on one board. Threaten two at once and bam, checkmate.

This might sound complicated… and that’s because it is. Luckily, you don’t have to jump into the full thing. There are a number of different modes that allow you to start learning how to think in five dimensions. For example, chess puzzles are about as classic as puzzles get, but now you can try out 5D chess puzzles, figuring out checkmates in just a few moves through time. Or perhaps you want to play a vastly reduced game on a smaller board with fewer pieces. That’s a great way to limit the number of moves you can make so that you can get used to moving in five dimensions. There’s a number of different tutorials to fool around with, matches against bots, basically a ton of different content you can experience before just jumping into a 5D Chess match with another human.

This is one of those games that is oddly addicting. If I need something to fill time before other major game releases, I’ll boot up a game of 5D Chess with a bot and see how far I get. On boardgaming nights I’ll play against my friends and have epic matches of trying to outthink each other. What makes it especially annoying are the “gotcha” moments that you experience. Moves in 5D Chess feel so incredibly intelligent, and even when you are beaten, you end up beaten by some strange multiverse time travel move. It’s hard to even be angry.

For $12, it’s quite the value, and certainly one of August’s more interesting yet minimalistic indie titles.