Game Review: Reigns
By Alan Stock
Turns out, being a king isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I had visions of being a loved and respected leader of my people. I would bring peace and prosperity to my kingdom. I’d slap my naysayers in chains, defend my borders valiantly and enjoy huge feasts next to my beautiful queen, as I nodded sagely to advice from my helpful advisors.
Dead again. Credit: Devolver Digital.
Yet here I am in my death throes, being torn limb from limb by savage dogs; my starving citizens broke into the castle and have ended my reign. And this is only my most recent failure. My son’s assassinated me, the church has burned me at the stake, my general has deposed me, enemy armies have stormed my castle, I’ve been banished with not a penny to my name by the cut-throat merchant’s guild. I’ve been impaled by traps in a secret dungeon, murdered by my queen’s treacherous brother, my kingdom’s been ravaged by plague, and to top it off the Devil himself has my number. And it’ll all happen again, a hundred times over. Welcome to Reigns.
The Church gets angered if you take actions such as taking a lover or researching scientific improvements. Credit: Devolver Digital.
You rule a Middle Ages kingdom and the gameplay is incredibly straightforward. Your advisors and citizens come to you with problems, and you choose to say yes or no to them – on mobile devices by swiping left or right. Just like some certain “dating” apps. Almost every choice in the game is tackled in this way – it’s a simple and elegant control method that keeps things moving quickly.
Your objective is to stay in power as long as possible and juggle the four “pillars” of your kingdom – Religion, Citizens, Military and Wealth. Each decision that you make fills or decreases these bars by different amounts. If one gets full or empties completely, your reign ends – usually in a brutal fashion. Each decision marks a year of your life and if you’re doing really well, you might occasionally live long enough to die of old age, but that’s a rarity. It’s perfectly possible to die just a few years into your current reign if you make the wrong choices.
On each death, you see your progress on a timeline where you can scroll back through all your previous failures. Credit: Devolver Digital.
But not to worry, after death you simply assume control of a new young monarch, carrying on where you last left off but with all the pillars reset. This cycle repeats until the timeline eventually ends. So what’s the point? Well, you have a lot of achievements to aim for. Reigns is presented as a shuffled deck of cards, with each choice reflecting a card randomly being dealt from the pile. After certain pre-set events, or significant choices that you make, you’ll unlock new sets of cards to shuffle into the deck. These contain new Go to the full article.