Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs is a strategy role-playing game (RPG) from Pixelated Milk and Klabater. With intuitive strategy battles, unique town building and time management mechanics, and lovable characters, it's one charming Japanese-style strategy game for Steam.
Restoring the kingdom
Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs is a Kickstarter success story that raised $90,000 during its fundraising campaign. Relatively new Polish indie developer Pixelated Milk made impressive use of those funds, as the game looks quite beautiful (simplistic character models aside) and shows a surprising amount of polish.
The game stars a young man named Kay. One day, Kay's dying father reveals that he is the heir to a dead kingdom, one he must now restore. Why dear old dad waited until the last possible moment to reveal such important information, the game doesn't say. But this makes Kay a king. He sets out with his two sisters and a loyal knight to rebuild the family kingdom.
Once they arrive at their dilapidated castle and the run-down neighboring town, Kay and company get hit with an unwelcome surprise. His family apparently owes tremendous debts to a group of creditors, and Kay must repay them or else lose his newfound kingdom! This becomes the main conflict of the game, repaying the debts while investigating their origins and rebuilding the kingdom.
It's a simple and traditional story, made more enjoyable by stellar voice acting and fantastic writing. The many characters Kay's party encounters are such a treat, you'll likely look forward to their banter and humor more than the primary narrative. I only wish you had the option for cinematics to autoplay, as having to click to advance the dialog slightly interrupts the flow of the delightful voices.
Recruiting and town building
Restoring Kay's kingdom consists of two primary elements: recruiting townspeople and building and renovating facilities. The first townspeople you'll meet are the father and daughter duo who run the local inn. Soon, our party encounters a shifty gnomish merchant and a musclebound but surprisingly effeminate blacksmith who carries a tiny pet dog wherever he goes. Many more townspeople and party members will follow.
Regalia has a relationship system (inspired by the Persona series) that encourages you to get to know these whimsical and distinctive characters. At numerous points throughout the game, Kay can elect to spend one-on-one time with one or more NPCs. They'll have conversations or go on little adventures together, increasing the level of your relationships. This provides gameplay benefits like new perks and combat skill enhancements, so it's definitely worthwhile.
Spending time with someone takes up an in-game day though, and our hero has a limited supply of those. The debtors allot a fixed period of game days before they come collecting their payments. Functionally, this means you have to achieve milestones (such as completing four quests) before too much time passes. The time mechanic would be stressful if it wasn't relatively forgiving. You'll need to work towards whatever the current milestone is, but not so vigorously that you can't stop and hang out with the citizenry.
Building and upgrading new structures costs money and other resources earned from completing dungeons. These same resources are used to craft better equipment, so you have to balance expanding the kingdom with equipping your team. Every building serves a purpose, such as allowing Kay to take more party members along on dungeons or bringing new NPCs into town.
Outside of town, the bulk of the game is spent in dungeons that you access from a large world map. Each of these dungeons takes a certain number of game-days to complete and has a difficulty rating to help with planning.
Dungeons consist of three kinds of nodes. One allows you to save (which can only be done here or in town), revive party members, and converse with teammates. You'll want to use the save node as your base of operations, returning to save between visits to the other nodes.
The next node types involve short text adventures in which players choose how to deal with various characters and problems they encounter. These choose-your-own-adventure segments have favorable outcomes in which you gain experience or items, as well as unfavorable ones that leave you with no reward. Hence, saving beforehand and reloading the save if you screw up can work wonders.
Finally, you'll also encounter battle nodes. These play out like the turn-based battles in Japanese strategy games such as Disgaea and Vandal Hearts. You'll position up to four members of your party on a square-based map and proceed to battle against hordes of enemies. Unlike say, Final Fantasy Tactics, the overall number of characters you can use in battle is relatively small. But each one has very distinct powers that give him or her a specific use in battle.
The difficulty of these battles is extremely high by default, so I recommend playing on the lowest difficulty (called Story) that the developers added after launch. A common complaint is your attacks can miss, wasting that character's turn. The game doesn't display accuracy stats, so it feels like you're being cheated. Also, there's no healing in battle – a bit different than in other strategy RPGs. But you can boost a character's armor, which has a similar effect.
Finally, if you just want to enjoy the story and town-building aspects of Regalia, the developers kindly added an option to skip most battles on the lowest difficulty.
Controls and system requirements
Regalia is a mouse-and-keyboard focused game, so it lacks controller support. You can play the entire thing with a mouse or touchscreen, although numerous keyboard shortcuts can speed things along. The key for ending a character's turn is particularly useful – it really should be assigned to a mouse button as well.
Speaking of the mouse, you always have to left-click after the game finishes loading. There's no reason the game shouldn't automatically proceed to the next scene rather than waiting for player input. I often fail to notice that loading has finished and lose a few seconds that would be better spent by auto-advancing past the loading screen like most other games do.
- OS: Windows 7, 8, or 10.
- Processor: 3.0 GHz Dual-Core - Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 / Athlon 64 X2 6000+.
- Memory: 4 GB RAM.
- Graphics: 512 MB VRAM, DirectX 9.0c Compatible - Intel HD 4400 / NVIDIA GeForce 9600GT / AMD Radeon HD 3850.
- DirectX: Version 9.0c.
- Storage: 5GB available space.
The game runs on mercifully low specs, so I can't begrudge it a few low-polygon character models. Anything with 4GB of RAM and a decent integrated graphics card should be able to run it, including most Ultrabooks and the Surface Pro.
Regalia: Of Men and Monsters is a surprisingly excellent strategy RPG. The characters steal the show with delightful personalities, excellent 2D artwork, and pitch-perfect voice acting. In a game that lets you hang out with NPCs, it sure helps to make them likable. The dungeons provide a nice mix of activities as well, alternating between choose-your-own-adventure and strategic gameplay.
Strategy RPGs aren't for everybody, but this one packs so much charm that all RPG fans should give it a look. Let's hope it comes to consoles someday as well!
Regalia costs $24.99 on Steam.
- Great characters, writing, and voice acting.
- A fun mix of strategy, role-playing, relationship management, and town building.
- If you just want to enjoy the story, you can skip most battles.
- Default difficulty is overly punishing.
- Having to left-click after every loading screen is annoying.
- Players should be able to double-click Dungeon nodes to start them instead of having to click a distant button.
Steam review copy provided by the publisher.
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