The good news: you inherited a castle! The bad news: the place is a ruin. The inifinitely worse news: you also inherited a massive, crushing debt. Time to get to work, rebuild the place, and somehow pay off that pesky debt collector and his menacing goons.
As a tactical RPG with kingdom building elements, choose-your-own-adventure parts, crafting, relationship-building, and fishing, Pixelated Milk’s successfully kickstarted debut title Regalia: Of Men And Monarchs wears many hats. And if that’s not enough, it also has you constantly racing against the clock. No pressure. So, how well does this wild mix of different elements hold up?
Surprisingly well, I’d say. Playing as Kay, the heir to house Loren, you’re basically forced to rebuild that kingdom you just inherited… or so your ghostly grandfather, whose ashes you accidentally drank, tells you. Together with your two sisters and your steadfast and a rather single-minded personal guardian, you set out to attract new residents to this forsaken place, meet a ton of new companions, and crush all sorts of evil scoundrels.
Regalia’s tone is mostly irreverent, with dialogue rarely taking itself serious and countless references to other games. It’s funny and works pretty well for the most part, especially when compared to the earnestness of other strategy RPGs which often go for an “epic family saga” kind of vibe. However, beneath all the silliness hides a heartwarming tale about the power of friendship, so it’s hard to begrudge the game its carefree tone.
While the game can be a bit too on the nose with its countless references to pop culture and other games, it is really charming overall and some of the character designs are particularly nice. When I was talking to designer and co-writer Artur Swiatek last year, he mentioned that Regalia was mostly influenced by Japanese games such as Disgaea, Final Fantasy Tactics, and other JRPGs. However, Pixelated Milk were aiming for a more westernized feel and design, and they mostly succeeded.
The turn-based fighting feels pretty solid overall. It’s a straightforward affair without fancy stuff like height differences or flanking, yet the sheer number of foes (on normal difficulty, that is) forces you to carefully consider your every move. Rushing into battle usually leads to you getting surrounded and stabbed to death in a turn or two, so you’d better have your characters work together as a team.
Extra challenges net you more group XP and are certainly worth the trouble – even if some of them certainly live up to their name, often requiring you to be very careful. There’s also no need to grind for experience, as your whole group levels up and unlocks new skills. This eliminates the need for grinding out levels and lets you focus on the task at hand. New abilities can also be unlocked by spending quality time with your companions.
Unfortunately, I encountered a bunch of bugs while playing. One of them teleported me all across the world map when loading a savegame. That’s usually not a big deal, but when travelling takes days and the timer is ticking down, unexpected delays like this are the last thing you need. Other issues weren’t half as bad; just keep in mind that the experience doesn’t feel entirely bug-free yet. (To be fair, since I started playing there have been a number of patches, so issues are apparently being worked on.)
You can purchase Regalia from GOG or Steam for $24.99. For more information, visit the game’s website or follow developer Pixelated Milk on Facebook or Twitter.