• Regalia: Of Men And Monarchs review by Rick Moscatello

    Amazing but flawed

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    The artwork is consistently pleasing.

    The board game Monopoly had a development cycle of decades—the game literally went through more than 20 years of rules refinement before the classic board game everyone in the U.S. has played was released to the general public.

    And that really is how a great game is made. Blizzard is notorious for having a long development cycle, refusing to release games until they are done, even if the demo looks great. And, hey, Blizzard is a juggernaut today because of it.

    Because a game really needs time to be developed, I’m very wary of Kickstarter games, especially computer games—a board game can be fixed and changed dramatically with errata, but that’s just not now computer games roll, and Kickstarter requires a fast release once the money has been promised.

    Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs is a Kickstarter computer role playing game, funded by just a few thousand people. It’s great on many levels, but because Kickstarter forces fast development, it does have rough spots.

    A fantasy RPG needs to have a story, character development, and combat to be great, so let’s see where Regalia went right and wrong:

    Story: The basic story here is you’ve just inherited a castle and associated lands. Unfortunately, you’re deep in debt and so much demonstrate that you can pay off the debt by completing quests in a timely manner (most everything is turn based here, by the way). The story is a bit lean, but works. Complementing the story is a fairly nice world, packed with dungeons to explore as well as other characters to meet.

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    Dungeons are neatly broken up into talky-bits and fighty-bits

    Dungeons, or more accurately dungeon areas, are neatly divided into fighty-bits and talky-bits. The talky-bits are basically little story puzzles to work out—do it right and you gain bonus treasure. Do it wrong, and you might trigger another fight, or end up with nothing at all.

    You also have a full-fledged castle and town to develop. As you improve various buildings, you get additional options for crafting, although it’s clear crafting was staple onto the game. You generally will find good stuff just by adventuring. You can even build a pier and go fishing (one of the few parts of the game that isn’t turn based, it’s still fun).

    Character Development: The character development here is unique but good. Each character comes with 5 “built-in” special skills, one of which is restricted (but powerful). You can equip a weapon (character specific) and three pieces of general gear, and you can greatly improve your character by improving your equipment. You don’t actually level your character, you level the whole party: as you gain levels, each character in the party gains room for perks. Generally these perks are minor tweaks, but some perks allow you to enhance your particular skills, which is the only way to improve them.

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    Well, it's a party.

    An adventuring party contains you and (after you develop your city) up to 5 other non-player characters. There are lots of them to choose from (again, once they all arrive in the city), each awesome in his or her special way. Thus, the special leveling system keeps you from wasting time grinding through the low levels with each character, as all characters in the party have the same level.

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    Lots of chics to have relations with.

    As the new characters arrive, however, they don’t instantly become your friend. You’ll actually have to spend time developing the relationship, getting various rewards as the relationship improves. You can do the same thing with various non-adventuring characters (eg, merchants), likewise generating rewards…but do keep in mind you have quests to complete, and simply traveling to the dungeon areas takes time as well.

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    Another grind...

    Combat: Alas, combat in Regalia has some issues—no real surprise since balancing combats and keeping them interesting takes much playtesting to get it right. There’s simply too much of it, and it’s awfully tedious; it’s a bad combo, and I imagine even if each dungeon only had a single combat in it, it would still almost be too much. Monsters have thousands of hit points, while your top powers deal a few hundred at a time, assuming you even hit or the monsters don’t dodge (seriously, there’s no reason to add something like monster dodging to make the fights drag on even more). Many monsters have “make you lose a turn” powers, making combat even more frustrating as you sit and helplessly watch the computer play. The programmers knew there was a problem here, so they threw a nice bandage on it: you can set the combat parameters, most importantly you can nearly double the damage your characters do. Even at the highest setting, there’s still too much combat, but at least you don’t have to replay fights over and over before finally winning (another problem in the early game before you can get a full party together). In terms of “fixing the problem as quickly as possible” the designers get major props, but ultimately it’s a sad solution as it’s a design issue that really needs more than a single very efficient fix.

    Overall, Regalia is a well-made game considering the circumstances, with considerable depth I’ve only touched on here. If they had another six months to develop the game, it would probably be quite awesome, but there’s still plenty here to make it worth buying. If nothing else, it’s nice to see you can make a pretty darn good game for $90,000 (the amount raised via Kickstarter).

    Overall Rating: 85
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Regalia: Of Men And Monarchs review by Rick Moscatello started by Doom View original post