Reigns-review

On the 11th of August 2016, a new time-killer came out on Steam and mobile devices. The developers recognised, that what makes the dating apps really popular, is the swiping mechanic. You can dumb down the decision-making, to just a flick of a finger, how cool is that? And the masses confirmed the thought behind the decision: this 3USD game is at 4.8 on the AppStore, 4.7 on the Play Store and 89% on Steam.

You take up the reins of a medieval kingdom as king, and you have to make a decision every year (usually a year is a turn, a swipe) that has an effect on the four relevant factions of the kingdom. The factions are the church, the people, the army and your treasury/merchants. These factions are represented as four small icons on the top of the screen. Most of the time during the game, the effects of your actions are represented by bigger or smaller dots above the icons, but there is no way in the beginning to know if the effect is positive or negative. However, you really have to watch these values, because if one is either depleted, or full, your reign comes to an end.

The first time you “set foot in your throne room”, the ghost of the last king approaches you and asks you who you are. He tells you to watch out for the factions, then disappears, and you have to start listening to your advisors.

You have several advisors. Some are from the church, the army, a diplomat, a woman, but I don’t really know her place in the court, sometimes the queen and your spy, and a few outsiders. You have the option sometimes to kill one or the other, but they are immediately replaced by someone with a different name, but looking the same, and saying the same things.

You can make decisions that has a lasting effect on your game, or even carries over to your next play through. Because if you die, or end your reign, you can start a new game as your heir, or successor, thus the game is continuous, and some of your decrees have a lasting effect on your subjects.

This game offers hours of fun, especially if you try to complete the quests the game gives you, which usually opens up new paths to go down. However, after a while it can feel repetitive, but probably the main issue with the game is that it seems like you can make the calls depending on what you really want to do, but if you do that, your reign will be short. After a time, you realise you have little freedom, because even though you want to build a new fort to offer protection to your kingdom, your army would be too strong and you would be thrown in the dungeon. There is also a duelling mini-game, which sometimes moves the plot, forward, and a dungeon crawling element, which can break the flow, and is pretty annoying sometimes.

 

If you enjoy the politics-simulators, you’ll like the manoeuvring between the factions, you will probably enjoy this game, but if you are looking for a Telltale games-ish freedom of choice, maybe it’s not the game for you.

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