Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs is a game published by Klabater and developed by the folks over at Pixelated Milk, which was successfully kickstarted back in 2015 with more than double the amount the developers were asking for. The game can be best described as a RPG with turn-based combat, but with a strong focus on a time schedule, having some dialogue, character interaction, crafting and some other elements from other genres thrown into the mix.
The story revolves around Kay, who finds out when his father is on its deathbed that he’s the heir to the Kingdom of Ascalia in the Rashytil Expanse. As a follow-up to that, our hero, who is accompanied by Griffith, your loyal bodyguard, and your two sisters, Gwendolyn and Elaine, travels to what’s supposed to be the capital of your kingdom, that since long ago belonged to your family. Right upon arriving at your inherited estate, you find that it’s nothing like you imagined it to be and it lays in ruins. Soon enough, you’re introduced to the ghost of your grandfather, who’s more than happy to see someone to the rescue of the family’s legacy, and a debt collector. The latter gives you an ultimatum, either take the chance of rebuilding the kingdom in order to pay off your family’s debt or pay it in less desirable means, and by that I assume he means blood. Thereafter, you’ll begin your journey investigating this whole debt issue and try to not get caught up in it.
If you’re like me and like to dive even more into the story, then you’ll surely appreciate the details that the in-game Codex provides in terms of background information regarding the world and major events that preceded the game. There’s also a family tree that you can consult, as you unlock more entries, that tells you the story of several of your family members, some of which are now lost to the ages. There’s quite a fair amount of dialogue in the game but, however, not all of them is fully voice acted. The only segments which seem to feature voiceovers are during cutscenes, besides the occasional one liner in some sections. Still, the voice acting is kind of a mixed bag, sometimes it feels mediocre at best, while at others it actually feels like it fits the game quite nicely. Hence one of the reasons why some people might be glad to know that the game features separate audio sliders for music, voice, sound effects and ambient volume, besides also offering english, polish and german subtitles.
The game is played out in various different ways, either by just going through dialogue between various different characters, fighting, roaming freely in certain specific zones, in which you’ll have direct control over Kay, or managing resources and personal relationships with those you’ll meet along the way. As it has already been mentioned, the game has a very strong time element to it, in which, for example, there are specific days in which Kay can develop his personal bond with other characters. With that said, each in-game year consists of nine months, with each month being composed of four weeks and each week being composed of seven days. Every two months your debt collector will check on you to see if you’re achieving the established objectives, if you aren’t it’s game over. These objectives are called Kingdom Quests and represent huge milestones in order to rebuild your kingdom. Besides developing personal bonds at the expense of time, you’ll also spend valuable time constructing new buildings in your city, raiding dungeons and even fishing.
Resources play a huge role in the game, and these are more commonly acquired after winning a battle. You can use them to construct and upgrade buildings in your town and to craft items, such as weapons and trinkets. Constructing and upgrading buildings is vital in order to be able to develop your bond with certain characters and to unlock things, such as the ability to craft weapons and potions, the ability to fish or to increase the odds of finding treasure after battles. The game does seem to suffer from two rather bothersome problems, one of which relates to how you can save your game, and the other which relates to loading screens. You see, from the Town screen you can access the various parts of your town such as, the town square, the castle, the inn, amongst many others, but the issue is that every time you want to switch screens the game throws a loading screen at you, even though these tend to be small. In regards to how the game saves, this can only be done when you’re in town or when you’re at a camp while you’re raiding a dungeon. I assume this is, in a way, done to prevent people from constantly saving and then loading their game in case something didn’t go as they hoped, but I honestly think this should be left to each player to decide. I’d very much like to have the option to save whenever I deemed fit, without having to wait for the next occasion in which the game allowed me to do so.
Surprisingly or not, the game also has a diplomacy element to it which, very much like personal bonds, allows you to improve your relations with the four neighboring nations, thus unlocking certain benefits such as perks and extra characters. From your castle you can decide how to approach diplomatic envoys from two different nations, as the game only allows you to deal with one in detriment of the other. Besides that, you can also travel to other locations, most notably dungeons. Before each time that you decide to travel, you get to assemble your party of up to six characters, from a pool of a total of twelve of them. After doing so you’ll be presented with the world map, which lets you choose where you want to go, from dungeons to other relevant locations. It is important to keep the passage of time in mind whenever you decide to travel, as doing so consumes a certain amount of days and, likewise, each dungeon has a specific amount of days it takes to explore. Dungeons contain three different types of nodes, they obviously have combat nodes in which you engage in combat with enemies, but they also have what the game calls camp nodes and adventure nodes. In short, when camping you’ll be able to develop your bond with party members, as well as revive them and save the game, while in adventure nodes you play some sort of choose-your-own-adventure game that can lead to a fight. All these three combined make for a nice change of pace from traditional dungeon crawling, as there seems to be something for those who enjoy combat and for those who enjoy the dialogue.
Now, depending if you like the combat or if you just want to play the game for the story, you might want to choose one of the two difficulty modes that the game offers. There’s normal mode which is the way the developers envisioned the game to be played as it features combat, and then you have story mode, which makes everything significantly easier and gives you the ability to skip battles. In any case, I’m not finding the game particularly difficult, with the exception of the challenges that each battle has, which are basically objectives you must complete regarding specific things during the fight.
As for the combat itself, at the beginning of every battle you’ll be able to deploy your characters wherever you want them to be inside a small area of the battlefield. Combat is turn-based and very slow-paced, and is essentially divided into two different action phases, moving and acting. Each character can move a certain amount of tiles, depending on their stats, but every character can only act once, such as attacking or consuming a potion. With that said, you’ll gain one Authority Point every turn, and you can use these to make a character act more than once on their turn, or you can save them in order to use ultimate abilities. Like most games with turn-based combat, the success of your attacks rely on a percentage chance in order to hit, which is dependant on your stats, and the game also features a line of sight element which might prove decisive at times. Upon completing battles you’ll receive rewards, and these are of even greater quantities if you complete the optional objectives during combat, such as winning the fight in less than a certain amount of turns. However, winning a battle might not always involve killing every enemy, sometimes you might just need to survive for a certain amount of turns, while in others you might just need to kill a single enemy. In any case, one thing that I think that is unique to Regalia is the fact that you can’t regain health during combat but, instead, characters can gain shields which will allow them to absorb incoming damage.
As with most RPGs, Regalia also has its fair share of customization. You can modify your character stats with perks, but these take up slots and in order to increase the amount of slots available for you to use you have to level up. In regards to actual equipment and gear, each character has their own specific predetermined type of weapons that they can use, but trinkets are universal and can be exchanged between your party members. One thing in which Regalia stands out from other games in the genre is by having a single level assigned to your entire party, instead of each character of your party having their own level. Personally I enjoy this, as it seems to keep things more simple, but those looking for more in-depth RPG elements might be disappointed.
In terms of visuals the game does really stand out with it’s cartoony-anime-like aesthetic, while resorting to a use of a variety of colours to make both the characters and the environments feel alive. Unfortunately, the game does kind of fall short in terms of animation quality, but it’s worth pointing out that you’ll barely see any, since most of the game is either in dialogue form with static representations of the characters, or in combat, in which you can speed up the animations in order to make turns go by more smoothly. In regards to the actual soundtrack, I feel like it’s a mixed bag. While I do enjoy the battle themes quite a lot, the music outside combat feels rather uninspired and, while I don’t deem it as bad, it certainly didn’t stood out for me.
Overall, Regalia is good at what it does and, in my eyes, the developers have certainly delivered a solid product, not only to the Kickstarter backers, but those who were looking for something new in the genre. While the game has a rather slow start, once things pick up, you’ll most likely find yourself enjoying it a little more. Still, the game has its flaws, and it certainly shows, and it’s most certainly not a game for everyone. It doesn’t exactly have a really captivating storyline but I found the combat, the time management stuff and the dialogue to provide a nice little mix from which I can take a lot of fun. In the end, you’re most likely looking at about 30 hours of gameplay which may or may not be your cup of tea.