Swipe left to appease the peasants, swipe right to buy new golden mitres for the clergy. Or perhaps it's left to repel a viking invasion using force or right to offer them half of your worldly goods in the hopes that they'll take pity and lay off the pillaging for a while.
Reigns [official site] is a new game from London-based Nerial, to be published this summer by Devolver, and it crams an entire kingdom-management and monarch life simulation into a series of binary choices. Swipe left to win the day, swipe left to lose your head.
Reigns was one of my favourite games at Rezzed this weekend. Nestled in the always-eclectic Leftfield Collection, it looked like a game that might only ever exist on tablet. The simplicity of the swiping is perfectly suited to a hand-held touchscreen but Devolver are bringing the game to PC as well as iOS and Android.
I'm glad because it's shaping up to be a delightful short-form life sim. It's more management game than life sim in many ways, what with you having an entire kingdom to run, but the fact that you each of your monarchs is likely to meet a sticky end makes it feel much more personal. It's about the actual stats of your kingdom, sure, and they change based on your decisions, but it's also about forging a family dynasty.
A brief stint with the game didn't give me a chance to try out any long-term events but Nerial reckon some choices will echo down through the years. My experience was much more simple - initially I attempted to roleplay the kindly monarch I know I would be if anyone were ever wise enough to grant me All of the Power, and then I realised I'd need to try and keep a certain amount of balance to prevent riots, revolution and regicide. And if that meant throwing certain elements of the population under the
bus cart, so be it.
The presentation, which has cards that generally represent people approaching the throne and petitioning for help or advice, is fantastic in its minimalist way. And even though I didn't manage to pay any attention to the music because I was playing in a busy room, it's the work of Disasterpeace who has worked on some of the best game soundtracks in recent years, including Mini Metro and Fez. He was also behind the music in the splendidly creepy film, It Follows.
Reigns will be out this summer.