Have You Played… Majesty?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I didn’t love Majesty [official site] as much as I loved the concept of Majesty, which is probably why I’ve been waiting for a(nother) sequel for so long. A new version, done properly, could well be one of my favourite games.

The appeal of Majesty is simulation, and the passivity of the player character. You’re ruling a fantasy kingdom but rather than directing every small affair yourself, you set broad instructions and watch as they’re carried out. Most of these are directed toward the recruitment and guiding of hero characters, who undertake quests on your behalf. Keep them happy and they’ll stick around, becoming stronger and able to take on tougher enemies and clear out the most horrid lairs in the land.

Majesty was made in a time when idle games weren’t the phenomenon they now are, particularly on mobile. It has something in common with that genre though, as some of the joy is in watching the kingdom and its heroes become more powerful without having to take control of every aspect directly. Unlike idle games though, Majesty does allow for the development of strategies more complex than ‘spend now or spend later’.

Though they are very different in execution, much of my love for Majesty comes from the same place as my love for grand strategy games. It’s the simulation of a world that I enjoy, and the hands-off approach to the actual questing creates a convincing sense of a world that would go on ticking for a while even if the king were asleep at the wheel. That makes a change from strategy games that can’t even function without constant attention.

From this site

26 Comments

  1. Det. Bullock says:

    I still have the boxed copy of this one!
    Unfortunately the expansion was never distributed in Italy and I could get it only with the HD edition on Steam.

  2. gergivt says:

    A new version, done properly, could well be one of my favourite games.

    This. The number of times I’ve googled for “games like Majesty” (without success) is depressing.

    • Fade says:

      Folk Tale sounds like a spiritual successor but I’m not sure if it will ever get out of early access.

      • Neurotic says:

        Folk Tale is brilliant, even now, although it’s much more hands-on than Maj. Still well worth it if you fancy a fantasy city-builder/RTS/Hero manager type thing.

    • Lieutenant_Scrotes says:

      I was hoping to read the comments section of this article and be informed of all the Majesty like games that I’d missed over the years. :(

    • khalilravanna says:

      Some day, some day I’ll finish my game and then maybe your search will result in success: http://ripplega.me

    • Wibble says:

      Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as King on the Wii was similar-ish to majesty in that you built up a town while sending out heroes on quests. Long time since I played it though, so details are a bit fuzzy.

  3. Moth Bones says:

    Any suggestions for a way into this? Bought it, love the concept, but every time I’ve tried to play it it seems absolutely impenetrable, like Crusader Kings with no feedback. Guess I should just hurl myself at it.

    • sabrage says:

      Majesty is a Libertarian utopia, your policemen, soldiers and guards might as well be doing nothing until you drop a bounty. While I love the game, its premise as a control-free RTS is somewhat undermined by how easy it is to direct your units with a fat wad of cash.

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        cpt_freakout says:

        Yeah, Majesty 1 and 2 are games that I got into with an enormous amount of enthusiasm, loved the idea to bits, and after a few games into the campaigns I realized they were actually a bit dull because absolutely everything was reduced to a single contract: do this, I pay money.

        It would be cool if there was a sequel where more complex motivations and contractual possibilities came into play – both on the players’ side and the AI. Like, sure, if you want some mercs to do the job, drop those huge bounties on stuff, but don’t expect them to do their best. Suppose there’s a monster terrorizing a forest village nearby: make a deal with the rangers’ guild that you’re not gonna cut down the forest to make your buildings, so you’d have to also work out a contract with the village to let them supply wood to your kingdom in exchange for getting rid of the monster. Rangers go, kill the monster, and you’ve got two new contracts in your hands! If you’d had gone the merc way, the village would be scared your protection was temporary, meaning you could squeeze out a protection deal for money. Meanwhile the Rangers’ guild refuses to release men into your service ’cause you’re going around damaging the environment.

        Or something like that.

    • RanDomino says:

      Step 1: Build a Ranger’s Guild and a Market. Upgrade the Market to Healing Potions and hire Rangers from the Ranger’s Guild.
      Step 2: When you have four Rangers, upgrade your Palace to level 2.
      Step 3: Cry as a sewer grate opens right next to your market and ratmen rob you blind.

      • ArchRylen says:

        It’ll be a bit tight money wise, but you can usually place the market, a guild, and two guard posts when starting. Once you have the market surrounded, sewer grates won’t spawn immediately next to it. The guard posts will hopefully delay any monsters that wander into town until your heroes arrive.

    • Banyan says:

      Impenetrable? The point is to watch your little dudes and dudettes run around doing foolish things until you decide to start a new game and actually complete the mission. Note that build order and placement matter for the most difficult missions, but this is still my ‘relax with a easy mission or two’ game.

  4. TillEulenspiegel says:

    Like FTL, I think Majesty & Majesty 2 have a brilliant core mechanic which is squandered by the structure of the game. With Majesty, you have these highly constrained RTS missions which don’t really let you play with the fun bits of the game.

    I completely agree about the simulationy attraction. There’s definitely a good game to be made here, perhaps with more base/city-building and resource collection, and a larger scope.

  5. RanDomino says:

    Majesty is both delightful and incredibly frustrating. A lot of it is understanding the differences in AI of the various heroes. For the most part, they hate you and will do everything they can to avoid being helpful. The exceptions are Rangers, who are pretty predictable (in that they explore, explore, explore), and Paladins, who are whirlwinds of blades and violence aimed at everything that’s not yours. Also Wizards, the ultimate glass cannons, who will routinely run away from things they can easily murder and charge into battle against things with 90% magic resist and spell mirror.

  6. Rituro says:

    “MmmmmmmmAJESTY! We’ve improved the guardhoush!”

    That phrase was uttered so many times by the game it’s become seared into my brain. Oh, and the game itself was pretty fun, too.

  7. DEspresso says:

    Decision Time: Elves or Dwarves?
    For me it was Dwarves all the way, the Tower was just too useful.

  8. Carra says:

    One of my favorite games, I remember replaying this one once a year.

    The first time that comes to mind are the mages. At the start of the game your mages would die to a lowly rat. But if you managed to get a mage to a high level they were Gandolf incarnate. They could meteor down entire mob parties and teleport home before tea time.

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    clweeks says:

    Haha! I bought this when it was new and my son was six. He’d sit on my lap and direct me to do foolish things. We played is semi-regularly for several years and it’s the first game we mastered together.

    He’s 22 now and starting his own family. Just yesterday, he stopped by our house and our conversation got around to a fond recollection of Majesty. Thanks for the synchronicity!

    Of the game itself, I think the best aspect (along with a lot of charm) was the difficulty level. Many missions were hard enough that I’d lose them a few times before hitting on the right approach. And I was eventually able to beat them all. A lot of games are trivial and boring, or more likely, hard enough that I give up in frustration.

    • Someoldguy says:

      There were definitely some hard missions and some where the randoms could kill you even if you knew the strategy. I loved the expansion missions. Really made you learn the abilities of all your heroes and not just rely on surviving long enough to get paladins. Majesty 2 was a real disappointment by comparison. It looked pretty but there was no real need to adapt your strategy and it was markedly easier to beat.

  10. satan says:

    Ahhh possibly my favourite game, I’d respond to every single comment but I’m incredibly tired, so I’ll just say that the reason I still play Majesty to this day, is because you can always decide how much effort/management you want to put in.

    Some days I’ll just be guiding things with an occasional feather touch, other days I’ll try and micromanage every single facet of the game.

    To anybody trying to get into it, it isn’t the end of the world if you lose heroes or buildings. Try and upgrade to a level 2 palace ASAP, keep recruiting heroes and build places where they can spend their gold to grow your economy, and ALWAYS get rogues if possible, as they generate gold from nothing (looting tombstones buildings/stealing/then putting that gold back into the economy), and the poison all classes can get from a L2 rogues guild can wear down even the strongest enemies.

    • Someoldguy says:

      Absolutely. It was nice the way the guilds supported each other. The rangers would go out and discover treasures for the rogues to be attracted to. The rogues guild poison actually turned the rangers propensity for uncovering something hideous and running back to town valuable as long as they shot it once. It’d be noticably degraded by the time they’d kited it halfway across the map. Hopefully then it would aggro on your guard tower so your passing wizard could gain half a dozen risk-free levels lobbing firebolts at it rather than dying to a rat on the way to the marketplace. With your town built carefully there was far less need to festoon the whole map with reward and fear flags to get anyone moving.

  11. Rainshine says:

    This was one of those games I picked up for $10 from a bargain bin somewhere, I’m pretty sure. And probably the only one that was more than worth it. Soooo much time spent in it — in addition to the missions, some of which were pretty brutal (I think there was one with dragons attacking, and all you had were a whole bunch of barbarians) — you could random up a game to just freeplay, which was a lot of fun. Paladins were pretty ridiculous, yes, but the Slaughteradins with their Scythes and complete disregard for personal safety weren’t bad either, and you got shapeshifing daggerthrowers and necromancers, which were way better than some pansies in a robe punching boards.
    I remember spending a lot of time just following heroes around watching them. “No, you idiot, go spend your money on a new sword, and stop wandering in circles outside the marketplace. No, don’t go back home, save the tax collector!”

    The second one was so disappointing :(

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