If you were to say to me, “Check out this strategy game, it’s kind of like based on Tinder” I would clock out so quick that you’d think I’d been poisoned by that assassin sitting across from us. Thankfully, I try to go into games with an open mind, not based on my preconceptions of internet dating apps. Reigns: Kings and Queens uses the gameplay concept of a dating sim with the same levels of ingenuity that made those first text based adventures so fun to play.
Keeping your kingdom in line
You start either as the King or Queen of your kingdom, balancing the responsibilities of such a role on the top of your head. Consult your court for advice and make decisions to bring prosperity to your people, the church, and the army whilst keeping your treasury full. By answering questions asked of you, swiping right for positive answers and left for negative ones, you add and take away points from 4 key areas that you have to keep balanced.
For the longest time I thought it necessary to max out the stats of your kingdom as a way to progress, but after my 45th death I realised that giving too much power to each one can just as easily lead to your demise. Too much money? You’ll choke on your gluttony. The people have too much power? Get ready for a revolution! Soon you’ll need to start self-immolating your resources just as much as getting fresh ones, in case you make someone too powerful.
It starts off slowly explaining elements of this world and the kingdom, and before you know it you’ve died and you’re on to the next descendant. Like in the fantastic Rogue Legacy, each time you die you play as a fresh ancestor in the family tree. This particular bloodline is cursed with being able to remember each life lived past, down to a pact made with the devil. Curveballs are thrown at you by various characters, some of which are close confidants or your best friends in the cloak and dagger traditions of being royalty.
Leaping from the page
The joy of playing Reigns is in the details. The characters are nothing more than titles and an odd looking picture, but the writing can be funny, insightful and brutal enough to get you invested in this world. Chucking cards left and right trying to make sense of your kingdom with a smirk on your face, because it’s so damn charming. There’s very little on-screen action in the game, the closest being the duels you sometimes have to fight.
They are simple little battles akin to a tiger electronics game, allowing you simple attack and defend commands. The callous dialogue and the simple battle system feels akin to the insult sword fighting of Secret of Monkey Island, a nice little touch on something they could have easily tried to phone in.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Reigns: Kings and Queens was provided by Devolver Digital.