The Ouroboros King – Review
Follow Genre: Roguelike
Developer: Oriol Cosp
Publisher: Hawthorn Games
Platform: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Switch
Tested on: Switch

The Ouroboros King – Review

Site Score
Good: PC version might be worth playing if you're a chess enthusiast
Bad: Console port is very poorly optimized and plagued by technical issues
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 1.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Last year, indie developer Oriol Cosp released The Ouroboros King on Steam. As detailed on their own website, the game was successful enough to let them quit their day job and focus on game development full-time instead. Oriol Cosp now hopes to repeat their prior success with a console release of their debut game. The launch of the port seemed like the perfect opportunity to take an in-depth look at this chess-meets-roguelike title. With the board set, is The Ouroboros King fit for the game of kings?


There is some semblance of a story here, although it doesn’t really go into detail as much as we would have liked. Granted, The Ouroboros King’s narrative acts more like a framework to give context to the way the game is structured, but the setup could have lent itself to a Shakespearian tragedy way more than what we ended up getting. Said setup involves an unnamed king, whom we assume is the titular Ouroboros King, although this wasn’t explicitly made clear in the story. His family has been corrupted by the dark magic of an evil coven, and the king himself was ousted from the kingdom. His task is to gather a new army around him and take down the evil coven, one member at a time, in order to reclaim his throne.


Apart from the hand-drawn portrait of the king, The Ouroboros King’s visuals are about as basic as it gets. Half of your screen shows the game board, with the other half providing information. It’s fine for what it is, even if a bit more visual flair could have gone a long way here. The simple visuals don’t hamper the game’s performance, although that doesn’t mean that The Ouroboros King lacks issues; but more on that later. One thing we did notice was that there were occasional instances where text would overlap with other text, making it sometimes difficult to make out information.


In the past, we’ve often said that games had forgettable soundscapes or that there wasn’t a whole lot to be said about a game’s audio. The Ouroboros King takes this to the next level: there is barely any audio in the game at all. There is no voice acting here, nor is there a soundtrack. All you’re getting is sound effects. There is a specific sound effect that has a gameplay function: a beep that indicates the checkmate condition. That’s about as interesting as The Ouroboros King’s audio gets.


The core idea behind The Ouroboros King is that it mixes chess with roguelike elements. It’s a simple idea on paper. From what we gather based on the game’s Steam score, The Ouroboros King does this exceedingly well. Unfortunately, the acclaimed Steam version isn’t the one we’re reviewing here. We’re not sure what went wrong here but the console port of The Ouroboros King definitely doesn’t live up to the hype. Before we rightfully tear into the specific technical mess that The Ouroboros King is on consoles, we’ll explain the game’s core mechanics, so that you have an idea of what you’re missing out on. Now, The Ouroboros King expects you to already be familiar with the core mechanics of chess, and builds on that knowledge. There is no in-game tutorial present -not even to explain the new and unique mechanics of The Ouroboros King itself. There’s a practice mode, and there are short blurbs that explain what each game piece does, but many of these say things like “moves like a Bishop”. This means that if you don’t know how a Bishop moves in chess, then you’re already starting at a disadvantage.

This is something that matters before you even start your first game round: when you start playing The Ouroboros King, you’re presented with a random set of chess pieces, from which you choose three and place them on your starting board. These aren’t your average chess pieces, however. Instead of Rooks and Pawns, you’re looking at Assassins and Princesses, to name a few. These pieces can level up and eventually upgrade into more powerful pieces. A round of The Ouroboros King then plays out like a chess game. If you can defeat your opponent, you reap rewards and move on to the next node on the in-game map. Eventually, you’ll run into a boss fight, after which you hopefully move on to the next chapter. It’s a refreshing take on the game of chess, and we certainly understand the appeal and the subsequent success of the PC version.

As we’ve mentioned, however, we were not reviewing the PC version, but the Switch port instead. And unfortunately, said version is a shoddy, buggy port that is borderline unplayable. Menu buttons are often unresponsive or slow, requiring multiple attempts to register inputs. There were even times when the game failed to do what we asked, with our game pieces not moving to the square we selected, resulting in an unfair loss. Whether that was because of input lag or something else wasn’t clear, but it certainly hurt our enjoyment of the game. The Ouroboros King isn’t a game that runs on a timer or turn limit, so you can carefully plan out your moves accordingly, so this isn’t something that can’t really be chalked up to a player’s fault. Given how simple The Ouroboros King’s underlying mechanics should be, there really is no excuse for how bad the game performs, even on the admittedly outdated hardware that the Switch provides. We’re not sure whether performance is better on the PlayStation but we’re not holding out hope. Your best bet is still to play this one on PC. We’re not even going to really comment on the €9.99 asking price, given that the poor optimization should speak for itself in terms of whether or not this game is worth your time and money.


Let’s not beat around the bush here: The Ouroboros King’s console port doesn’t live up to expectations. While there is a lot that can be said about the game’s lack of accessibility for newcomers to chess, at least that’s an issue that can be overcome with time and practice. What cannot be overcome, at least not without serious effort from the developer, is the game’s terrible technical performance. For how simple of a game The Ouroboros King is mechanically, there are no excuses for making the player feel like they’re not just fighting an uphill battle against the opposing AI but against the game itself too. There’s definitely a good game in here, but if you want to give The Ouroboros King a chance, just walk away from the console port and give it a go on PC instead.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 1.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
The Ouroboros King - Review, 1.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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