Indie turn-based strategy RPGs are a hit and miss genre. Regalia: Royal Edition is a bold attempt at crafting an immersive and diverse entry in the genre so prepare to build your kingdom and let's see how it holds up.
Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs stars a young man named Kay who is tasked with rebuilding his family's once glorious kingdom. He's joined with his bodyguard Griffith as well as his sisters Gwendolyn and Elaine. Soon into the story, they meet the spirit of their deceased grandfather and learn how they must go about making their kingdom glorious again. Along the journey, you'll meet loads more characters who inhabit your kingdom as you expand it and some of them will join your party, too. Thankfully, the story is full of humour and doesn't take itself seriously. I must admit; I laughed out loud at quite a few moments of dialogue. This lighthearted atmosphere is reflected in the beautiful painted visuals as well and it all comes together to make an impressively charming and welcoming game world.
The core gameplay involves a ton of different aspects. In a general sense, you must slowly complete a massive checklist of tasks. These involve forming relationships with characters, developing and expanding buildings within the kingdom, working through dungeons, crafting equipment, levelling up, and even fishing. Each chapter requires you to complete a certain number of tasks before a predefined number of days expire so you must use your time wisely and do as much as you can in as short amount of time as possible. That being said, after I completed chapter 1, I seemed much more capable of checking things off the list and didn't really feel pressure anymore. Anyway, the most interesting task is completing dungeons which basically consist of text-based adventures and turn-based strategy battles. The former are like Choose Your Own Adventure novels while the latter should be familiar to anyone who has ever played an SRPG.
As a huge fan of the genre, I can easily say that these turn-based battles are well done for the most part. You command a small army of characters (usually about 4 people) in order to fulfill the win conditions whether they task you with defeating a specific powerful foe, surviving a set number of turns, or merely slaughtering every enemy in sight. Meanwhile, optional challenges can be enjoyable to try and fulfill as they award you with additional goodies. Each unit can move and perform abilities on their turn so maximizing the damage that they can do while staying out of harm's way is key. There's a nifty shield mechanic that helps combatants absorb damage as long as they have shield power remaining and you can also use points to allow a unit to move twice or use an item. Overall, I had a fairly enjoyable time working my way through the battles. However, some of them last for far too long and unfortunately overstay their welcome.
However, that isn't the only issue that I had with the battle system. One thing that annoyed me a great deal is that friendly units can't move past each other. In almost every SRPG that I've ever played, your party members can freely move through each other and can only be blocked by terrain or enemy forces. The fact that you can accidentally cut off one of your own combatants is needlessly irritating. There are many other annoying issues like enemies that are way too powerful and behave erratically. Moments like these made me feel like luck played more of a factor to my success than my tactical skills did. Finally, the whole gameplay loop of going on mini-adventures then building your kingdom and strengthening relationships started to become rather repetitive after I understood how it all worked. To be fair, it takes a while to reach that point but once you do, it's hard not to get bored doing similar tasks over and over again.
When it comes to turn-based strategy games, Regalia: Royal Edition is worthy of attention due to its unique and multifaceted mechanics. However, SRPG enthusiasts may be put off by a few counterintuitive design decisions.
- + Solid turn-based strategy battles
- + Plenty of humour and charm
- + Large assortment of things to do with rewarding growth mechanics
- - A few exceptionally frustrating and unintuitive design decisions
- - Gameplay loop gets repetitive after you begin to understand how everything works