Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
Here’s the first thing that impressed me about Reigns: the asking price is the same whether you choose to purchase it on Steam or on your phone or tablet. Normally, mobile apps run about half the price, and it’s twice as frustrating when it’s a game that’s clearly designed around the limitations of mobile platforms. It’s unusual for me to buy a mobile game for my PC unless someone’s practically giving it away, but because I really respected the fact that the price was the same across the board, I went for the full price purchase on this one – and on the day it released, no less.
In Reigns, you take on the role of a king, or more accurately, a succession of kings. Every decision you make is made by “swiping” left or right Tinder-style. Not being intimately familiar with Tinder, and being slightly confused about how it works with the mouse instead of a touch-screen, I definitely picked the wrong option a few times. By wrong, I only mean that it was not the option I intended – Reigns will let you rule, more or less, as you see fit.
In time, you’ll be given the option to go on a dungeon crawl every now and again, and you are likely to run into a monster or two in your delves. Combat works in much the same way as everything else – swipe one way and you defend, swipe the other to attack. While it’s not intuitive, not really, it’s also not terribly difficult to learn. From time to time you will find artifacts that will affect your current ruler, as well as every ruler that follows.
Reigns has a distinctly rogue-lite feel, with light strategy elements. But there’s a story here too, and if it draws you in, you’ll want to keep on playing, which is odd in a game that feels crafted specifically to be played in short bursts. The time I spent with it left me uncertain of how I wanted to proceed; part of me wants to just sit down and binge through it, and part of me worries that it will start to feel like a chore if I try to play that way.
That said, the only thing I really don’t like about Reigns is that not only is there no simple in-game way to reset your progress and start again, I couldn’t even find a convoluted out of game way to do so. Obviously, progress is being saved somewhere, but I couldn’t find it in any of the usual save-game haunts. Now that I feel like I have a handle on the mechanics, it irks me to have wasted my first few rulers, and I’d really like to start fresh, especially since it doesn’t feel like a game that will have a whole lot of replay value unless you’re the type to chase high scores.