I have tested a lot of chess applications to date, and even the Japanese Morita Shogi. When I saw Nightfall entering the App Store I felt an urge to try it out. It looks quite a lot like chess but the board is smaller with just a 7×7 square grid. It also lacks any sort of king, and a game is played for total domination.
Nightfall has a whole new set of pieces replacing the so familiar ones found in chess. A tutorial shows you how the pieces move, and tells you whether they have special powers such as the Shade having the ability to fly through your own pieces to capture enemies. You don’t have to learn all the new moves though as the game provides you with dots on the board showing the movement possibilities of the selected piece.
A game of Nightfall is over quite quick, and you don’t have to plan that many moves ahead as there are only 14 pieces for each side. The “pawn” in Nightfall is called skeleton, and can only move one step at a time even at its first go. This slows the game down a bit as it takes quite a while to move an army of skeletons. Still they can turn into queens if they reach the other side of the board, just like in ordinary chess.
There are only two game modes available in Nightfall: 1 player versus iPhone and local hand it over 2-player mode. There is a slider where you can adjust the skill of the iPhone from easy to hard. I can’t tell how many levels of difficulty the slider translates to or how the difficulty translates into strategy and behaviour. Would have liked fewer difficulty levels, and choice of aggressive, passive or solid iPhone behaviour. The AI has been quite random in the strategies used. This gives the game some variation but it also shows that the AI isn’t that solid when it makes dubious moves.
Nightfall looks really good, and you can zoom in and out as well as rotate the game as much as you want. Still it might be better to actually play it in a top down view to properly set up your strategy. I like all the pieces found in the game, they have a lot of personality to them.
The music is ok for a while with some piano arrangements, but any strategy game you play for longer sittings need the option to play your own music. I can’t even get it to play using the double home button function.
Nightfall seriously lacks in content with no achievements, unlockables or even statistics tracking. I think chess puzzles translated to the Nightfall set of pieces would be really cool too. According to the developer the next update will include a zombie skin that looks awesome on screen caps I have seen. Still more content is needed to make Nightfall interesting to learn for both players seasoned in chess as well as beginners.
Nightfall is a good-looking 3d spin on the classic chess formula, but the lack of content draws the score down significantly. If you want something to play with a friend on the bus Nightfall is a good choice as it is quicker to play than chess.