Game Review: Reigns (Mobile)

Tinder meets storybook life or death decision making game??

Reigns is a current popular gaming app from developer Devolver Digital, available on the mobile platforms. You are the King of this fictitious realm, and whether you live or die (and specifically how) is completely in control of the cards (and some luck at times).

As the ruler, you are presented with a deck of cards to play with. Each card contains someone in your kingdom (advisers, peasants, allies and enemies alike) that is asking for something or is notifying you of an issue that needs your attention and wise decision making.  You are then tasked to either swipe left or right to provide one of two answers (you can hold and hover to see the two answers before making a final decision) to each card. Seems simple enough…but there is so much more to the game than random swiping. Your answers to various people will ultimately determine your fate and length of reign.

Ruling a kingdom takes much more than that though.

Besides making decisions on various enquiries, you also have the task of balancing your available resources to keep your four main parts of the kingdom in unity (church, people, army and treasury).  The people and the church must be kept satisfied, while ensuring to have enough money and troops available to keep the land safe. There are markers on the top of the screen that shows where resources are being used among the four groups, so you can keep an eye on if one is needing to be prioritised over the other. At times it can become very tempting to splurge resources on one area, but it will most likely cost you your life and your reign in the end.

The scenarios of how your life comes to an end as king varies throughout; sometimes you can be lost in a dungeon, by duelling a foe, or even old age… the possibilities are endless.

The ultimate goal of the game is to extend your reign for as long as possible. Forge alliances, make enemies, do anything that will help your dynasty live on long after your death. This could involve scientific experimentation, witchcraft, war….and perhaps even the Devil himself?

The game keeps track of each time you begin a new reign as king by tracking gameplay on a timeline that takes into account length of reign and what type of ruler you were. The game will also assign you a clever name and title for each reign, such as James the Wicked or Henry the Blessed based on the way you played the round, and this will be displayed along the timeline.

So ideally, every time you play a new reign, you are playing as a new ruler.

In addition to the main game play, there are additional objectives you can fulfil, such as have an heir or meet a witch. Every time an objective is fulfilled, you are rewarded with new cards that added to your deck. These then will add to the gaming experience and hopefully make the next go around less deadly.

Each time you start a new reign, you continue with the deck of cards from the past life and thus after awhile your deck can be quite unique.

Beyond the basics of the game, there are further fun dynamics built in. As you play through the game time and time again, you can build trust and deceit with certain characters causing them to act out in ways different than the last reign such as tattling and making cruel jokes. Just avoid the guy who offers you the special potions….send you on some weird drug trip…which makes for strange responses. The game even contains mythical like elements, including witches and werewolves which changes up the dynamic of a typical storybook kingdom…. there is even a whisper of polyamory in the kingdom at times!?!

I found this game overall simplistic, but fascinating. The artwork is sort of a geometric modern style that is appealing to the imagination and the depth of the game gives you more than the basic card based game. I found it exciting to actually see what different scenarios would occur from making both strategic and random decisions during my various reigns. This game has great come back appeal to it, as it’s like a continuous storybook, telling the tale of your kingdom as it evolves from ruler to ruler. Since each rule can vary in length depending on number of cards in your deck and how quickly you are brought to your demise, the game can be a quick play or last for a good amount of time (so get cosy on that couch). I highly recommend purchasing this gaming app as it will never disappoint. The added advantage is that this game does not contain buying upgrades or annoying ad breaks mid game.

Reigns is available now on the App Store and Google Play (and now also on Steam for PC gamers).


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