When it comes to running a kingdom it isn’t always feasts and ceremonies. The burden of the crown is a heavy one with the many needs of the kingdom falling solely at your feet. Laws to enact, peasants to feed and the constant balance of power between the church, the army, and the state make for a mountain of stress and paperwork but fortunately for you aspiring king the hard working developers Nerial have come up with the perfect solution to take all the pain out of the job.
Reigns takes all the complexity of running a kingdom and compacts it down into a tidy card based interface with inspiration drawn from popular apps such as Tinder. No longer will the king sully their eyes reading long-winded documents or waste their time on making complex political decisions, as now all they need to do is simply swipe left or right.
With a colourful cast of characters to serve and advise them, aspiring kings will need to balance the needs and influence of the many factions within their kingdom and beyond by answering questions and requests with a simple yes or no, left or right swipe. Though the choices may be easy, the effects can have long-lasting implications for both the reigning monarch and his descendants. A deal with the devil may bring short term prosperity but damn those in power when the demon returns to collect his due. Alongside these decisions, the king will also need to balance the motivations and plans of their own court lest they find themselves overthrown from within or taken down by one of the doctors more “unruly” experiments.
Graphically Reigns is simple and clean with a style reminiscent of paper cut-outs or a children’s picture book. Characters are static for the most part with the focus of gameplay being the story and the consequences of the King’s decisions. Complementing this is a choral, almost Gregorian soundtrack which pairs well with the gameplay giving it a real “Age of Empires” feel. The cast of characters is sizeable with each having their own unique personality and stories than can influence the success of your reign.
But what of the feasts you ask? What of the fun? Well fortunately it’s not all business for the man on the throne as there is ample opportunity to hunt, love and duel as goals are met and the King’s reign becomes evermore successful unlocking additional cards to shape future playthroughs. Of course no king rules forever, but rest assured that when that day comes your kingdom shall continue on with another rising to take the reigns.
Balancing the factions within the kingdom can be a a tricky task, grant them too much freedom and you may find yourself overthrown by the peasantry or deposed by your army, give them too little and you may find yourself exiled from the kingdom or cast into the dungeon never to return. Some factions can be held in balance with unlockable bonuses however, the most difficult to manage by far is the kingdoms finances as more often than not fulfilling a request will result in the loss of funds and rejecting one while saving money will result in a serious loss of balance within one or more of the factions with no additional benefit from having a full coffer. More often than not a king will find his reign at an end much quicker than expected due to a simple mistake or a case of intentions gone awry.
As an upside all cards and goals unlocked during a reign carry over to the next with the history of kings, the length of their reign and their subsequent successors recorded for prosperity (and bragging rights).
As a mobile or casual game Reigns excels with no time restraints placed on decisions outside of the castle dungeon mini game however as a PC game I feel it is a tad lacking with little to keep players engaged beyond a handful of deaths or coup’s. A wonderfully well dressed resource juggler with an endearing theme but one that is perhaps unsuited to the PC platform.
Reigns is now available on iOS, Android and PC via steam.
Chris Senz is a gaming writer and contributor to PN2.