Welcome to Reigns! Where being a king is a mixed blessing, and staying alive is harder than it seems to be.
Reigns is a card-based royalty simulator in which you swipe the cards either left or right to make decisions. Think of Sort the Court, but instead of pressing “Y” or “N”….you’re swiping left or right. So basically Tinder in a medieval setting.
The king is dead and you have taken over as the new monarch in town (or should that be kingdom?). As I mentioned earlier, you make your decisions by either moving the cards left or right. On mobile devices you can simply swipe left or right; while on whatever computer system you are using, you can use the mouse to move the cards. Be warned however, every decision comes with a consequence.
In the game, you have four ‘pillars’ which keeps track of specific aspects of the kingdom: the church, the people, military and treasury. Each decision you make will affect one or all of those pillars. You must maintain a balance between these four pillars. If one of these pillars get depleted or too powerful, it is going to be end of the road for the ruling king’s reign. Balance is key.
Oh guess what!! There are reportedly twenty-six ways to die in this game.
At the start of each new reign, the cards in the deck are shuffled before being presented to the player in a linear fashion. Most of them will be characters who offer the king two choices. Such decisions can be whether to allow the church to build more churches, ask the military to step in and much more. Depending on your ending (aka death) or decisions, you may unlock new cards which drastically change the story. So until you learn the ropes of the game, guesswork will be involved. Learning how decisions influence those four vital pillars, while some cards are just thrown in to keep things interesting for you.
Regardless whether you are going for a successful ending or not, you are going to either be playing the game for a very long time or searching a guide on the internet.
I was surprised when I realized Reigns did have some subplots going on in the story, which becomes clearer as kings come and go. There are also goals for you to meet which vary in their difficulty to complete.
There is even combat in the game using the same card interface. I admit I found the combat system a little tricky to understand. I usually just swipe left or right and hope for the best. Because I legit have no idea what I am doing when it comes to combat in this game. At least it gives a nice change of pace from the tedium from making swiping kingly decisions.
I enjoyed Reigns and its dark sense of humor, along with its clever writing and simple interface. The character drawings are so adorable. Reigns has both strategy and luck involved in it, where you try to predict how much impact the cards will have and hoping the risk pays off. Each reign has something new thrown at you, making it entertaining and challenging. Unfortunately it does fall victim to repetition despite its strengths. Regardless, it is still an enjoyable experience.