It’s harder to be a ruler than it was first thought!
Reigns: Her Majesty is the sequel to the stellar 2016 mobile gaming hit, Reigns, from gaming developer Devolver Digital.
(psst… you can check out my game review of Reigns here: Game Review: Reigns (Mobile) )
This time, you are playing in the role as the Queen of the kingdom. While this is a new and exciting position to take, it actual turns out to be much harder due to historical roles and power women held in the olden days. The actions you take as Queen are shaped by the masculine power in society, and the cost of following your own path despite the offense you cause others simply because of your sex.
The game always leaves you thinking about ways that things could have gone differently had you been a man. In the end though, it is important to embrace the entertainment within the chooser-your-own adventure.
Like in Reigns, you play with a presented pre-set deck of cards that represents a citizen, nobility, or creature that is asking something from you or notifying you of an event requiring your attention. You are then tasked to respond to their request with one of two answers by swiping left or right. Your decisions and answers will shape your fate and determine the length of your reign…..and ultimately how you die.
Based on each decision made, the effects (positive or negative) on the four sectors of your kingdom (church, village, army and treasury) will write your path and will affect the sequence of cards that will follow. These sectors are marked out with designated symbols on the top of the screen that will fill and un-fill based on the decisions made. You don’t want one to be completely empty or be completely full as it is a major trigger for death to occur for the Queen. You need to find a healthy balance to extend your reign.
As the root goal of the game, sometimes prolonging your reign involves forging alliances, bearing heirs, defying your husband…or even embracing witchcraft and the mystical All Mother. As a side note, I highly recommend making friendly with the All Mother because she has some amazing tricks up her sleeve that can help save you in some precarious situations. But it really is like dealing with the Devil….
Death itself sometimes is not triggered by making poor decisions, but for example from the joy of the people wanting to greet you.. so you get trampled. Or the King sees that you are so good at raising favour so he locks you in a room until you die of old age. But of course most of the time, your decisions are going to lead to you making someone angry – thus the church burning you at the steak for witchcraft, the citizens of the kingdom having you beheaded or you being impaled by the latest experiment by the court doctor. There are endless ways for your reign to end.
The game keeps track of the reigns of each Queen on an astrological scale, where it indicates name, the star sign of the Queen (this plays out to be very important part of certain interactions with citizens), length of reign, and year scales.
Every time a new Queen begins her reign, a “memento mori” is released to tell you about the last Queen and how she was perceived by the kingdom.
As in Reigns, as you complete challenges, such as “Have an Heir” or “Meet the Serpent Leader”, new cards will be added to your deck of play. This essentially adds new citizens to the kingdom that you will interface with and must appease. You also can gain different titles such as “the Lover” or “the Wicked” based on certain decisions that you make in your reign.
A new addition to the game is the ability to find objects that at times can be used to change your fate or allow for hidden dialect to be revealed. For example, there is a bone that the priest needs as he thinks it’s that of the Anti-Christ or you may meet a travelling merchant that is interested in a mechanical owl.
One thing to note though, if you try and activate an object with the wrong person or at the wrong time you will be scolded immediately for “throwing things around”. I decided to see how far I could push this, and apparently after the fourth time in a row, they just decided that I was a mad Queen and had me killed.
As you play, you will essentially get deeper and deeper into the story. The objects and cards that you collect over from Queen to Queen, and while at times you don’t know what to do with the objects, you will eventually find a use (just be aware of that magical mirror). The mechanics of the game don’t change, but the understanding of the direction you need to go will as you learn more and more about the kingdom and their people. Sometimes your reigns will be too short to gain any information, essentially as the next Queen will be new, she will still be a little wiser than the last.
This game, while simple, was as fantastic as the original. Same geometric drawing style and simplistic gaming style, but with enough new twists to keep you on your toes. There is as much need for strategy as there is completely mindless swiping to progress your Queen down the path towards her demise. Depending on your decisions, reigns can be short or lengthy, but nonetheless you just cannot help but play just one more time….and again….and again.
And if you haven’t played the original….you just must!! And if you are afraid of playing a game with a strong women in the power seat…well you don’t deserve this game then.
Reigns: Her Majesty (and Reigns) is now available on the App Store and Google Play (and also on Steam for PC gamers).
Offical Game Website: http://nerial.co.uk/reigns/