Strategy and management are, for the most part, niche genres. Although games such as XCOM: Enemy Unknown and recent entries in the Fire Emblem franchise managed to revitalize interest for strategy titles, few management games achieve relevance. Developed by Pixelated Milk and published by Klabater, Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs attempts to fill Fire Emblem‘s spot in the PC market while delivering simple management elements.
With great comedic timing and a lovely art style, Regalia might pass unnoticed due to its graphic similarities to mobile games. But in reality, this love letter to classic RPGs is so polished and cleverly presented that it turns out to be unique enough to set itself apart from its source material. Mixing the level of detail in character management JRPGs are known for with grid-based combat à la Fire Emblem, Regalia tells the story of the young Kay Floren as he arrives in the ruined kingdom of Ascalia. At his death bed, Kay’s father reveals that the young man is the last monarch in an ancient lineage that once ruled over Ascalia. His sisters, especially Gwendolyn, convince him to head toward the kingdom so that they can fully revel in their royal status.
Turns out that due to an ancient debt and the absence of the royal family, Ascalia is nothing more than a few ruined landmarks. A small family still lives in the surroundings, but other than that these lands haven’t seen much movement in ages. Due to his new found status, it’s up to Kay to pay the royal debt and restore Ascalia to greatness through exploration, construction, and bonding with his subjects.
The story players are presented with is a simple backdrop for a slow-paced adventure where everything goes. Unlike other strategy titles, Regalia encourages exploration in its town map as well as the overworld map, which counts with a varied selection of regions each with their own sceneries and side stories. Each chapter consists of a set of objectives that must be met in order to progress. Failing to do so will result in failure. However, there are plenty of game days to engage in social interactions, order the construction of buildings, and explore the neighboring lands.
Players can freely decide how they will spend their time. The areas surrounding Ascalia count with a set number of nodes, each with one or more of three types of encounters. Exclamation marks denote a text-based adventure with well-written stories that, depending on the choices made, will reward experience, items, or even trigger a battle. Balloon nodes represent campsites where the party can rest and progress can be saved. These spots will sometimes make it possible to interact with characters and learn more about their individual stories. Finally, the crossing swords mark battles against unique foes, often bandits or the dangerous animals and magical creatures that inhabit the area.
It’s through the exploration of areas that players advance certain events and effectively gather supplies used in construction. However, it’s just as important to hang around town and spend time with its residents. Regalia has a simple yet detailed bonding system that determines the affinity between Kay and specific characters. Bond levels will bestow unique perks, some of which benefit combat, and further develop a character’s story. Although simple, the game’s overall story leaves space for character development, which Pixelated Milk takes advantage of with realistic characters, cleverly written lines, and superb voice acting.
Despite its initial simplicity, Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs has everything to please those looking for a unique strategy-like JRPG-based monarch simulator. The game has beautiful graphics, a fitting soundtrack with some beautiful moments, and a lot more intricate systems that are surprisingly easy enough to understand. Its pace is perfect for chill play sessions and the characters are so charming and funny that it’s hard not to fall for each and every one of them.