Reigns: Her Majesty is a monarchy simulator from Nerial. While it is the second game in the series, it has its own story to tell. I never played the original myself, but I have heard good things about it. When I saw people commenting that this successor is even better, I decided to see just how great it really is.
If you want to see the game in action, you can watch my first play session here.
*Steam version purchased by reviewer.
In Reigns: Her Majesty, players make decisions as the queen of some kingdom. Specifically, she is the Forever Queen, a soul that the All-Mother has blessed so she can rule for eternity through many mortal bodies. The story plays out over a series of random events, ensuring that each player gets a somewhat unique experience. Still, completing certain scenarios brings in new characters or otherwise unlocks additional events, giving the game a sense of progression and structure. While most of the game revolves around making political decisions that will keep everyone reasonably happy, the supernatural secrets of the world gradually come to light. There are many ways to die in the game, but only those who unravel these mysteries can find the true ending.
Despite some intrigue and an ever-looming threat of death, the game has a fairly silly tone overall. There are quite a few quirky characters in the cast and events do not always go the way common sense would suggest. Even some of the responses the protagonist can give are kind of ridiculous. The game also takes advantage of its app-like design for parody and satirizes companies that only view feminism as a marketing tool. I did not find the main plot to be terribly compelling. However, the quality of the comedy helped keep me entertained across multiple runs through the game.
The art style in Reigns: Her Majesty is fairly simple. Character portraits have many sharp edges and few facial features, though they are still recognizable as human or not. They also have a straight vertical line down their face with different shading on each side. However, the shadow switches sides on their necks while the line continues down. I would say it looks a little ugly, though the unnatural portrayal of light somehow helps keep it from bothering me.
The backgrounds have some pretty sharp corners as well. Still, they are a bit more elaborate than the character designs. Thanks to a small colour pallet, they also manage to avoid stealing focus from the more important things on the screen. I would say they look decent enough overall, but the maze screen is something of an eyesore. Unlike the other backgrounds, it has a more three dimensional look to it which makes it seem out of place. Its inconsistent spacing is not particularly appealing either.
When hovering over a choice, circles appear above meters that the decision will affect. The size helps to indicate whether the option will have a massive or minor impact. However, the direction and the exact size of the change remains obscure. This helps add tension to each new scenario that the player encounters and encourages them to think critically before making a selection.
Reigns: Her Majesty mostly uses gentle music with a variety of string instruments. While a few tracks have a bit of tension to them, the majority are rather peaceful. This gives the game a relaxed feel befitting a casual experience. While I did not find any of the songs to be particularly memorable, they serve their purpose well enough.
People briefly murmur something unintelligible when they appear. Aside from this, the game does not have any voice acting. This gives the audience a general idea of what a character’s demeanor is without much risk of becoming bothersome. Still, it does not bring much value to this sort of game. There is nothing wrong with the voice overs, but the game is just as enjoyable when they are off.
Reigns: Her Majesty presents players with a series of cards. While a few of these cards simply explain what is going on, most depict a character and some dialogue. By moving the card to the left or to the right, the player can react in different ways. Depending on the choices they make, the four meters at the top of the screen will fill or deplete. Naturally, reducing a gauge to zero will result in someone coming to eliminate the queen. However, maxing something out can be just as deadly. The key to a long career as queen is to keep everything in balance.
The concept is rather simple, yet it manages to be surprisingly fun and addicting. Since the game lets you know which meters will move but not whether they will increase or decrease, it can be difficult to make a decision when encountering a new scenario while on the verge of death. While nearly every response results in immediate effects, some will also have consequences down the line. After acquiescing to a number of requests for new towers, I eventually earned the opportunity to turn the palace into an architectural anomaly and rake in some tourism money. There may also be times in which a choice is necessary to progress the story, but will certainly kill the current queen.
To help guide players in the right direction, the game includes an objective system. Not only does this provide a hint on what needs to happen to progress the story, it also gives players something to work towards. While only three objectives remain on the screen during normal play, accomplishing other major tasks still results in a little fanfare to let the player know they did well.
There are also a number of objects to collect in the game. These trinkets remain in the player’s inventory even after use and each queen inherits them after her predecessor’s death. While every item has a role to play in the main story, there is more to them. Crafty players may find that they can use them to manipulate events and avoid death for a while longer.
I enjoyed my time with Reigns: Her Majesty quite a bit. It has a delightful sense of humour and the gameplay is simple yet addicting. The uncertainty that comes with each unfamiliar scenario makes each new decision rather tense. Even when the player knows the potential outcomes of an event, the random nature of the game can turn any strategy against them. The objective system also provides players with reasons to keep playing for many more rounds. It may not look very pretty or have an impressive soundtrack, but I would still recommend this game to anyone looking for something casual to play.