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The key to making chess better? Shotguns

And a furry friend tries to sell you mid-century homes

a view of a pixelated chess board with the king piece on one side pointing a gun to the other pieces Image: Punkcake Délicieux
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Chess has long been the game of choice for strategists, intellectuals, and just generally smart people who want a brain-wrinkling challenge. Now that’s all changed thanks to the clever work of one developer. Benjamin Soule has made a chess game with a violent twist — chess pieces can shoot each other, turning the game into pure, chaotic fun.

We have violent chess and more in Cool WIP, Polygon’s weekly roundup of eye-catching clips and screenshots of works in progress. Each week, the Polygon staff scours the internet for the most interesting games still under construction, to give you a sampler of the coolest up-and-coming projects.

This week we have a cat that just wants to sell you a mid-century home, a fake gacha game, a new kind of slime, and some spooky scenery.

Chess gets bloody and violent

Benjamin Soule from Punkcake Délicieux posted a clip of a “rogue-chess” for the Ludum Dare 50, a game jam where developers make a game from start to finish in a weekend. This jam’s theme was “Delay the inevitable” and Soule made a violent twist on chess. A clip of the game shows a king piece wielding a gun that sprays the opposing side with bullets. (I never knew it, but chess pieces do bleed.) You can play the game for free now and check out more work like this on Punkcake Délicieux’s website and page.

This furry friend just wants to sell you a nice mid-century home

YouTuber and streamer Coopertom made an entire neighborhood inspired by 1970s architecture in VRChat. In a clip, a furry friend takes us on a tour of the properties and pretends to be a real estate agent. “This house comes with wall-to-wall orange shag carpeting,” Coopertom says in a tour. “It might look nice right now but trust me, this is going to get super disgusting really really fast.” It’s a goofy bit and you can check out more of Coopertom’s work on their Twitter account.

This gacha game isn’t real, but the developer’s work is cool as hell

Developer Dmaw tweeted an April Fool’s Day joke that they were working on an “NFT gacha game” and shared a clip of a 3D character panel. That tweet was a joke, but it did bring a lot of attention to this character display they made. A clip shows the feature in action, and as the screen tilts, you can see the characters, like a dapper pigeon, at different angles. Dmaw works on bright, cartoony games and you can see more of their work on their Twitter account and at developer Big Brane Studios.

Some smooth clay slime

We’re off of frogs now. Slime is the new big thing. Here, developer Rafael Martín teases their imagining of a slime grunt for a work-in-progress. The little clay-like critters fit perfectly into the miniature-like environment. Overall, it looks like it could be a stunning game, and it’s reminiscent of titles like the 2019 remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening or even the more recent Tunic. If you’re interested, you can check out more of Martín’s work on Twitter.

One of the most intriguing developers out there

I can always spot a Spencer Yan clip when one rolls through my feeds. If you’re not familiar, Yan makes some of the most evocative and visually distinct games out there by using a dual-toned, highly detailed, pixelated style. The style lends their work a trance-like quality that feels like a dream you can’t quite fully remember. This clip shows a beautiful view as the sun sets and the distant hills fade away. Yan posts regular updates, so be sure to check out more of their work on Twitter.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.