Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs - Royal Edition started out life in 2015 as a Kickstarter project and was eventually launched on PC, Mac and Linux in 2017 after being successfully backed. This strategy role-playing game by Polish-based developer Pixaleted Milk channels trademark aspects of classic strategy JRPGs while adding a number of modern enhancements to make the overall experience more accessible.
Drawing inspiration from its source material, Regalia includes an intriguing story, an unlikely protagonist supported by a cast of colourful characters and takes place in a fantasy setting where a bunch of baddies reign supreme. You take on the role of Kay, a young individual who inherits a rundown kingdom in lands far away, only to discover his deceased father was in some serious debt. The task is to now clean up the surrounding lands and restore the kingdom to its former glory by taking on quests and acquiring resources in order to fill the evil debt collector’s pockets with cash.
The humorous storyline quickly establishes the light-hearted tone of the game - with a large cast of JRPG character archetypes who make silly comments and observations about anything and everything. Dialogue-heavy sequences will occasionally drag but the more you immerse yourself in this universe, the more interested you’ll naturally become in what each character has to say. The general conversation does a substantial job of keeping you engaged as the story unfolds. It’s easy to see, based on the verbal exchanges and humour, how the Disgaea series has influenced the developer behind this project.
Everything in the world of Regalia is linked to a calendar system you would find in the likes of Persona. Kay and his party of companions must complete milestones within a set amount of days. Typically, you’ll lead a busy life with your day-to-day agenda split between developing strong social relations with characters around the kingdom (who also operate on their own unique schedules), to buying, selling, crafting and adventuring the lands far and wide – with restoration of the kingdom acting as the key motivational factor. The game gives you a certain level of freedom to pick and chose how exactly you go about accomplishing milestones. Regular interaction with the cast of characters in the game will unlock special expeditions and enhance skills of specific party members.
When you’re not in town, you’ll be out adventuring. Each area essentially doubles as a dungeon and is broken up into individual nodes – which separate each area into a series of individual tasks. Completing a dungeon requires you to complete each node within that specific area. Nodes assist with the pacing and are commonly divided up into battles as well as social and text-based scenarios with branching storylines. Once you’ve got the idea of how the daily routine works in Regalia, you’ll develop a rhythm. The nature of this design means there is plenty of replay value if you do decide to start a new game file.
The tactical turn-based combat doesn't exactly revolutionise the genre. It’s a standard strategic affair, where you deploy Kay and the rest of his team mates on grid covered maps and then engage in battle with a variety of enemies – ranging from giant rats to zombies – by moving your party members one at a time. Each character has a set of options including the ability to move and perform a series of attacks and skills (from close combat to ranged) that can harm or even nullify enemies. There are also line of sight obstructions on the battlefield. If you do want the edge in battle, you will need to construct a party of characters that complement one another. With more than 20 unique characters available to recruit, befriend and develop relations with, there are plenty of choices on offer if you do have a specific team setup in mind.
If you find the enemies are too much of a hassle – with health bars that seemingly won't deplete or effects that are unable to be avoided – you can always adjust the settings of battles in the options menu. This is where the modern touches can have an impact and instead of losing interest in the game altogether because you can’t progress, you can adjust a few sliders to ease the level of difficulty. In addition to being able to speed up the animations in battles, you can adjust the damage dealt by party members, change the damage party members receive, disable dodging for enemies and generate authority on defeating an enemy. These options are all listed in the gameplay settings. Upon starting a new game, you can also choose from three different difficulty settings. And if you really want, you can even skip entire battles and cutscenes.
How frequently gameplay settings are adjusted is completely up to you. If you are finding the game too difficult to begin with, a few adjustments within this menu is advisable and will make for a much more tolerable experience. This is probably the defining feature of Regalia, allowing anyone to push forth to redevelop their kingdom and conquer all-evil even if they don’t necessarily have a history with games of this type. Purists may not agree with the inclusion of this feature, but it’s easy enough to ignore if you do have the willpower to resist.
The most notable downside to Regalia on Switch is the excessive load times. Every time you move around the kingdom or engage in a battle - each individual area or sequence must be loaded. Obviously, with any role-playing game you’ll need to exercise a certain degree of patience when learning the ropes and participating in prolonged battles but the endless run of loading screens wears thin pretty quickly. Even the smallest of rooms take one too many seconds to load before you can press a button to proceed. Fortunately, the developer is working hard to resolve this problem. The beautiful 3D character models, hand-drawn backdrops along with an appropriately themed soundtrack at least make up for this.
A few other issues include hard-to-navigate menus – fortunately there is an undo button in battle if you do make the wrong move – and smaller than acceptable text from time to time. Outside of battle, characters – depending on where they spawn – also have a habit of blocking the only exit in some areas, with the developer looking to solve this matter in the next patch. Overlooking these problems, the game performs well enough in both docked and handheld mode.
Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs - Royal Edition is a 30-40 hour adventure, with plenty of replay value when considering the additional in-game DLC, that does a convincing job capturing the spirit and charm of the JRPG formula while providing competent turn-based battles at the same time. The developer has achieved its goal, but doesn’t really make an effort to go above and beyond multiple other (and technically more authentic) offerings already available. There are a few notable shortcomings; however, being able to adjust gameplay settings on the fly makes this a game that can be enjoyed by veterans and newcomers alike.