5D Chess With Multiverse Time Travel
5D Chess with Multiverse Time Travel.png
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux
Release22 July 2020
Genre(s)Chess variant
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

5D Chess with Multiverse Time Travel is a 2020 chess variant video game released for Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux by American studio Thunkspace. Its titular mechanic, multiverse time travel, allows pieces to travel through time and between timelines in a similar way to how they move through ranks and files. The game was praised by critics for its complex and elegant design.


5D Chess begins each game with an ordinary chess setup. As the game progresses, pieces can, following specific rules, be moved onto a past version of the board. To prevent time-travel-related paradoxes, instead of changing the "original" past, time travel in 5D chess results in the creation of an alternate timeline or "parallel universe", for which the starting position is the same as the corresponding time-point in the original timeline but with the time-traveling piece added. Pieces can also be sent between these different "timelines" and, when moving across timelines, can move into that timeline's "past", "present", or "future".[1] Both players have to make a move on each existing active timeline e.g. if there are 3 separate active timelines, each turn consists of 3 moves. All timelines are active except those created consecutively by the same player, so that if one player creates two or more timelines before the opposing player creates any, all but the first of the created timelines become inactive; making a move on inactive timelines is optional. The game ends in checkmate when any of one player's kings—at any point in time and in any timeline—is in check, and that player has no legal moves in at least one active timeline; in this case, the player whose king is in check loses. The game ends in stalemate if the latter condition is met but the player's king is not in check; in this case, the result is a draw. In general, the more moves have elapsed, the more complicated the game becomes due to the creation of new timelines.[2]

The rules of piece movement are generalized from standard chess rules, with time and timelines being axes of movement, as with ranks and files.[3] For example, a rook can move any number of spaces along one axis, so a player can send the rook into its current position, but any number of turns in the past, using time as an axis of movement.[a] Bishops move any number of spaces in exactly two axes, so it is possible, for example, to move a bishop three squares vertically and three turns into the past. Knights move two spaces on one axis and one on another axis – for example, a knight may move to any adjacent space into a timeline that is two timelines away. Kings move one space in any number of axes.[a] For example, a valid move for a king is to simultaneously go one space over horizontally, into an "adjacent" timeline, and one turn into that timeline's past. Queens move any number of spaces equally on any number of axes. A valid move for a queen could be moving 4 spaces vertically, 4 horizontally, into a timeline that is 4 timelines away, and 4 turns into that timeline's past. Pawns can move through time and timelines under certain conditions.[a] In addition to the standard six chess pieces, the game includes its own fairy chess pieces, the unicorn and dragon (which can move any number of spaces equally through exactly three or four dimensions, respectively) and the princess (which moves like a Queen but is restricted to a maximum of two dimensions of movement).[1][4] These pieces can be used in alternate board configurations, as in addition to matches on regular 8×8 boards, the game also supports games on 4×4 boards, 5×5 boards, 6×6 boards and 7×7 boards and a puzzle mode. The game can be played online against other players or offline against an AI.[2]


The game was launched on 22 July 2020 on Steam. It was developed by Conor Petersen and Thunkspace.[5] Petersen said that he had enjoyed chess variants such as three-dimensional chess and conceived using time as an additional dimension for piece movements. He said: "From there, I tried to solve each problem or paradox I found."[6]


Kotaku reviewer Nathan Grayson called the game "remarkably elegant for what it is".[1] Arne Kaehler, of ChessBase, noted that while the game ran well and is a fun chess variant, the opponent AI was not very competent.[2] A Digitally Downloaded reviewer noted that, due to the increasing complexity of the game as turns pass, it presents a "limitless well of possibility".[7] Christopher Livingston of PC Gamer called the game "mind-bending".[8] Jacob Aron of New Scientist wrote how the game "isn't for the faint-hearted" and "is brain-meltingly hard".[9] Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura played the game when appearing on VENN in August 2020.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Nonstandard moves like castling and the en passant capture are only possible across the two spacial axes; they are not generalized across time and timelines.


  1. ^ a b c "5D Chess Has Completely Broken Me". Kotaku. 27 July 2020. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "What on Earth is 5D chess?". Chess News. 31 July 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  3. ^ Kent, Emma (27 July 2020). "With 5D Chess, you can checkmate in multiple dimensions". Eurogamer. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  4. ^ "New Princess piece! | 5D Chess News" – via www.youtube.com.
  5. ^ O'Connor, Alice (22 July 2020). "5D Chess With Multiverse Time Travel sure is 5D chess with multiverse time travel, yep". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  6. ^ a b "This Month In Chess: 5D Chess On The Rise". Chess.com. 21 August 2020. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  7. ^ S, Matt (29 July 2020). "5D Chess With Multiverse Time Travel – A beautiful look at the limits of the human mind". Digitally Downloaded. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  8. ^ Livingston, Christopher (27 July 2020). "If regular chess isn't hard enough for you, try 5D Chess With Multiverse Time Travel". PC Gamer. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  9. ^ Aron, Jacob (9 September 2020). "Playing chess where pieces time travel is confusing – in a good way". New Scientist. Retrieved 17 September 2020.