Whenever a young adult suddenly receives an abandoned ancestral home it’s either filled to the brim with money and riches, letting the protagonist go on some spiritual quest to find themselves, or so torn down and abandoned it’d probably be easier to build a new house somewhere else. In Regalia, it’s a mix of the two.
Playing as Kay, you inherit the castle and Kingdom of Loren, a run down and disused town, that is now all yours! What you actually get is mostly destroyed, with only a few places still standing, those being a old castle, a overgrown courtyard, and a very nice pub run by a little girl and a mute man. After discovering your grandfather’s ghost within the castle, you receive your mission; rebuild the town, find people to live in said town, and pay off the taxman (story of my life).
Like every part of the modern world, the taxman is coming, and he gon’ take all your money. After being given a date by which time you need a lot of money and a cool castle pad, you venture out into the world to… do what you want! Yes, Regalia is a semi-open world game, where your only task is to become successful. To do that you need to make your town semi successful with some cool citizens, get enough money and clean up the surrounding countryside from evil monsters and bandits.
One of my favorite mechanics in Regalia is that everything takes time. Travelling around the game world will take a few days, so remember to pack the toothbrushes. Fighting through dungeons takes a significant amount of time, and if you fail and give up on a dungeon it will still take up the full time as a small punishment. This gives the world a real feel of movement, and the idea that the world doesn’t revolve around you, you just live in it (a theme I am always in love with).
Battles in Regalia are carried out as small scale turn based fights, you and the AI taking turns to control your units. Each of your characters have wildly different build and abilities, some opting for defensive moves, some aggressive and some support moves. The most interesting character in my opinion is the ghostly suit of armor you meet early on, whose move-set is almost entirely built around pushing enemies around, whilst doing very little damage to them.
While the game itself is top quality and well built, the tutorial feels rushed, poorly implemented and unfinished, leaving me to learn a lot of mechanics from loading screen tips. For instance, after I had gained a character with the ability to control fire. During a battle I tried to use a move where she summons a wall of fire that damages any enemies that cross it. Problem was, it was orientated the wrong way, along a perpendicular axis. After mashing my keyboards buttons for a minute trying to find out how to rotate it, I gave up and just used another attack (I lost that round). Later on, during a particularly lengthy load time I found out the TAB could be used to rotate AOE attacks, something that was never explained in the tutorial or even when I gained party members with asymmetrical AOE moves. Too much learning is heaped on the user to learn from tool prompts, instead of the concepts and mechanics being properly introduced, lengthening the game somewhat as every battle with a new character consists of you just using that character, trying to work out what all the weird buttons do.
The diverse cast of characters is very refreshing, with each differentiating themselves not only in look, but playstyle and personality, each bringing a new voice and ways of play into conversations. Beyond the controllable characters, the members of your growing town again feel unique and humorously different, such as the father and daughter duo running the town’s pub, the child daughter running the show and the silent father being the muscle.
Despite all of the controllable characters having unique and interesting character designs, there is still so much that is left wanting, such as when comparing the character portraits for the male and female characters. While the men have a nice range of designs, plucky heroes in chain mail and cloth, to great stonking knights in plate armour, not one single female playable character is wearing something other than a bikini-style top piece. Be they a savage wolf woman that you have brought into the civility of civilisation or the fire mage you picked up a while ago, all of the woman characters have their chests out and on display, whilst the men have realistic clothing and armour. While this may be small to some, it really pulls me out of the immersion, where all I want is to play as a female character who doesn’t need to breathe through her skin for once. While the designs are ever so slightly off, the character art itself is lovingly drawn.
The whole world of Regalia oozes character and history, the world map screen paints a picture of a vibrant and larger than life world. Even just talking to the NPC’s hints at knowledge and events far removed from you and the little world you bumble around in. While you see very little else of this world you inhabit, mostly staying around your little castle and the surrounding fields, villages and countryside, you learn and feel so much about other lands, both nearby and far away.
Regalia: of Men and Monarchs is an extremely well thought out and executed game, marrying an open world’s ability to engross the player in freedom and options to a well written script and solid fighting. While it does have some problems, it doesn’t detract from the solid game underneath, which, despite its faults is a fun and enjoyable RPG.