Regalia: Of Men And Monarchs is an isometric RPG from developer Pixelated Milk that combines a tactical turn-based battle system with town building mechanics. The game places an emphasis on character relationships and narrative, with dialogue infused with python-esque humor to be found throughout. I've been going hands-on with the beta build of the game to get an idea of what this quirky title has to offer. This preview version offers only a small slice of the game and is obviously a work in progress. Still, what I've played so far has me intrigued and more than willing to go back for more.
The opening sets the tone for the game's comedic story line. As your father lies dying, he tells you that you are the heir to a lost kingdom. With dreams of riches, your character and his sisters set out for this kingdom of Ascalia only to discover that there's not much left but rubble. What's worse, your ancestors didn't just let the kingdom fall to ruin, they ran up a sizable debt doing it. A debt which, as the heir to the kingdom, is yours to repay. Thus the premise of the gameplay reveals itself neatly, it's up to you the player to build up your town, attract people to your kingdom, and generally keep the debt collectors at bay by convincing them you're building a prosperous homeland.
The ways you'll build up your assets and subjects are varied. You'll need to attract people and gather resources by going on 'adventures' that consist of both turn-based battles and text adventure portions with varying outcomes, then use those resources to build up your castle town and provide people with lodgings. You'll need to manage relationships with your citizens by conversing and adventuring with them. All of these activities take time from the ever-ticking in-game clock which counts down to the next visit from the debt collectors. It's a system with a high potential for stress but Regalia: Of Men And Monarchs seems to handle it well at this early stage.
Each task you complete goes toward a pool of quests called Kingdom Quests, it could be improving a certain number of relationships, clearing a certain adventure, or building and improving structures in your town. Whatever you choose, completing a certain amount of these Kingdom Quests in time holds off the bailiffs. Since virtually everything you do to advance time counts toward this objective, it makes it easily manageable unless you fail in your adventures, which takes the number of days needed to complete the excursion off your calendar. Each questing area has a certain number of nodes that could be a battle, text adventure, or a camp to rest and revive at, and the number of nodes corresponds to in-game days taken to complete it. This seems like a fair balance of risk and reward to my mind, as the various missions are tagged on the world map with their difficulty and (in-game) completion time, so you know roughly what you're getting into beforehand. It's worth noting at this point that the beta version of the game only covers the 'quarter' up to your first review from the debt collectors, so I can't comment as to how these objectives might change up or how the difficulty level will unfold as the game goes further.
The mechanics of combat in the game take their cue from classic isometric JRPG games. You'll take turns to move your characters around a grid-based map to outmaneuver and attack enemy units. The combat is tactically interesting, there's no healing of units in combat so you'll need to make use of your main character's ability to imbue a damage absorbing shield and other character's buffs and debuffs to gain the advantage and prevent units from being eliminated. This is important as downed units are out for the whole adventure unless they're revived at a camp, which is fairly rare. It has potential but at this stage is a bit clunky on the visual side, some movement and attack animations feel a bit slow or disconnected. The 2.5D cartoon style of the game's character models is charming in itself, so it would be nice to see this improve for the final version. In fairness to Pixelated Milk, their notes on the beta state that some animations may be placeholder, so this may well be the case.
The tone of the comedy in Regalia: Of Men And Monarchs won't be to everyone's tastes, of course, but it has a distinct vein of sardonic wit reminiscent of classic British comedy that I find appealing. It even has a couple of lines that are actually directly lifted from Monty Python movies. There were at least a few moments during the short slice of the story provided in this preview that had me laughing out loud. The preview portion of the game takes about 6-8 hours for a single run-through including gameplay segments and depending on what actions you choose to take. It remains to be seen if the plot and its asides can remain as entertaining throughout the full game.
The only problem I had with the numerous dialogue scenes (both main story related and otherwise) is that the auto-play option for conversations is severely glitchy at this time. At various different times, this either forced me to click through conversations to proceed, rushed through half-spoken lines of dialogue on its own, turned itself on and off, and on one occasion refused to let me proceed in a conversation without toggling it on and off for every line of dialogue. It seems like an issue that should be resolved for the final release but I mention it here because it drove me truly insane.
That's about as much as I can say at the moment, without being able to delve further into both the tactical combat and the town and relationship building, it's hard to say whether these systems will retain enough depth to be interesting across a game the developer states will take over 30 hours of playtime. What's been presented so far shows a lot of promise, though, and I'll certainly be keeping an eye on Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs when it releases on April 27th.
Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs was previewed on PC via Steam with a key provided by the developers.