Reigns: Kings and Queens (Switch eShop) Review
The power to rule the land as you see fit. An endless supply of all of the luxuries life could offer. A legion of followers ready to act upon your every command. Getting brutally murdered four years into your reign.
Life as a king or queen has its ups and downs.
Reigns: Kings and Queens has arrived on Nintendo Switch, bringing with it the original mobile title Reigns and the sequel Reigns: Her Majesty. The closest you’ll get to installing Tinder on your Switch, these two games see you live out the regal life of a king or queen, swiping left or right as you’re faced with an endless deluge of decisions while you attempt to keep everyone around you happy long enough to stave off the inevitable overthrow of your throne for a few more years,
You are presented with four meters representing the people, the army, the church and the treasury. The goal is to not allow any meter to get too high or too low, lest you suffer a beheading at the hands of a vengeful uprising from the neglected and downtrodden people, or be displaced by the church as they flex their power to establish their new order throughout the kingdom.
You’ll be dealt a series of cards, each containing a request or decision from one of the wide cast of characters that comprise the local populace. Do you accept the bishop’s request to build a new church? Do you save the treasury or the garrison when the castle catches fire? Each decision you make will impact one or more of these parties, with either a small or large impact occurring as a result of your royal decree. The difficulty lies in the fact that it’s not always abundantly clear as to whether a particular decision will have a positive or negative impact on these meters. It creates for some tense moments as you anxiously scrutinize each word in a sentence, knowing one wrong move could bring about your untimely demise.
Such is the nature of royal politics, where attempting to appease everyone is often a futile endeavour that can leave you stabbed in the back before being swiftly replaced by the next in line to the throne. You will also encounter decisions that give rise to more permanent effects. For example, you can start a slave trade to continually pad out your pockets at the cost of the ongoing loss of morale of your people, or you can establish a hospital that can prevent the eradication of the entire population in the event of a plague outbreak.
These events form part of the long-term goals of the game. At all times you will have three tasks to strive to achieve, ranging from meeting a particular new character to starting a crusade. These help to drive a loose overarching narrative that gradually introduces werewolves, vampires, dungeon crawling complete with duelling skeletons, and even a meeting with the devil. They provide just enough of an incentive to keep playing, and the dialogue remains witty and humorous throughout.
With that said, it’s difficult to deny that eventually the act of simply swiping back and forwards can start to become somewhat repetitive. Seeing the same cards over and over can assist in living longer as you learn to predict the impact of your decisions, but the tedium begins to creep in after a few hours of doing the same simple actions.
Her Majesty which allows you to be the queen fairs slightly better in this regard, with more cards and characters to see, an inventory system which allows you to earn items which you can use to your advantage in certain situations along the way, and more interesting deviations in the story from earlier on in the experience. It’s undeniably the stronger game of the two, and after cutting your teeth on the original for a little while I’d recommend spending the bulk of your time here.
The concept at the heart of Reigns: Kings and Queens is original and intriguing, and there is undeniably enjoyment to be found as you attempt to maintain the stability of your monarchy for as long as possible. The writing is clever and funny, and the tension involved in making decisions as meters teeter perilously close to the edge of their limits makes for some genuinely exciting moments, but unfortunately, the game’s repetitive nature eventually causes the charm to wear thin.
In short bursts, Reigns: Kings and Queens can be an entertaining way to fill those small gaps in your day if this blend of politics and relationship drama sounds up your alley, but over longer play sessions the repetitive gameplay and scenarios may struggle to continue to hold your attention.
+ Clever and original concept
+ Witty dialogue
+ Tense decision making
- Repetitive gameplay