Reigns combines the callous, swipe-based decision making of Tinder with the medieval theme and mortality rate of Game of Thrones.
Reigns had me charmed, from the moment I started the app. I don’t play many mobile games (other than Subterfuge) as I prefer books or music when on the train and at home I would rather play something more substantial. But after coming across a preview, I thought ‘Why not? So far it seems like the perfect mobile game.
Reigns sits you on the throne presents you with a series of decisions, brought to you by various members of your kingdom. It grabs you right away, there’s no tedious tutorial, you jump straight into choosing how to respond to the choices presented to you. Resolving these problems is easy enough, you simply swipe left or right choosing one to the two potential answers. The thing is, it turns out ruling successfully is a balancing act. You must have enough money, keep the church happy, keep the military strong, and keep the populace in check. If that wasn’t tricky enough you’re also aiming to complete certain narrative objectives such as having an heir, dating a pigeon or meeting a witch.
Reigns teases that desire to achieve a high score (or in this case long reign), like so many other popular mobile games but manages to weave it into an intriguing narrative. As you progress, more characters and possible events are unlocked and added to the deck of cards from which you must make your decisions. One of my favourite things about Reigns is its emergent storytelling. Alongside moments of intended narrative, the different cards and decisions weave together to create these amusing and organic micro stories. One of my Kings died, because I kept funding the court scientist and ignoring the churches’ annoyance, leading to …… SPOILERS!. Naturally evolving stories like these, are one of my favourite things in games from the story of my plucky Xcom squaddies to the wild mishaps of my FTL crews.
Reigns is quick to play, it looks gorgeous and you can pause at any time. Despite a minimal amount of text on each card, Reigns manages to develop a narrative that is filled with humour and intrigue. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the game cleverly hints as to why you continually take control of ill-fated monarchs. Despite your constant demise or overthrow as ruler, each new reign is not a total reset, the effect of previous reigns continue and your deck of decisions and characters constantly grows. There are times when you’ll be making the same decisions repeatedly, but Reigns advances just enough each reign, to keep things fresh.
So if you’re finding your journey to work, devoid of life or death decisions, give Reigns a go.