Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs is a strategy RPG game developed by Pixelated Milk, a recent Kickstarter success to hit Steam. Following the tale of a family retaking their castle, kingdom as well as a lovely debt accrued by their ancestors. In a style and story reminiscent of Recettear, Regalia gives you access to city building, social links, levelling up and feats, all to help you rebuild your kingdom and make the countryside safe once again.
The game starts off with a little backstory and overview of the current world, leading to our Hero Kay next to his dying father who is entrusted with restoring their family to power. Travelling to the land of Ascalia, Kay and his 2 sisters, along with his bodyguard, Kay sees the kingdom in rubble and moss. Cleaning up the castle they are told about the bad news surrounding their families fall, they have a lot of debt.
The main task is to pay back the debt, in increments befitting chapters, 55 days each in 6 separate chapters. You will have to complete 5 Kingdom missions for the first 3, 7 for the next, increasing in difficulty as you progress further. Along the way you will continue to pick up new allies, both in the form of villagers for your kingdom and people to fight beside in combat.
The main story will last you between 20 – 30 hours long, depending on the difficulty you select and the choices you make. There is some replayability here, with choosing different factions to side with and trying to max all the social links on offer.
Regalia is split into 3 different parts, the first being city management. You can freely move around the city, using your mouse to select a building or district, within which you can talk to your subjects and engage in free time with them. The second is dungeon delving, which encompasses a lot more time investment, from selecting the paths you take in the dungeon to fighting battles. The final part is resource management, both in terms of people and actually money. You need to gather materials to build or upgrade shops and your team will grow in strength the more equipment you buy for them or time you spend with them.
The city management is pretty straightforward, merely selecting options and waiting 1 day for them to complete. Battles are tile based, with each character have a turn, to move and use an ability. As turns go by you will gain Authority Points which can be spent to gain an extra action or to activate ultimate abilities which are unique to each character. As you complete missions and defeat dungeons you will be rewarded with XP which in turn gives your party a new level, allowing you to equip new perks, which give more damage, defence, health and more.
Dungeons are set into a map, with several nodes that connect to one another, locked paths between nodes are unlocked through competing the nodes themselves. Coming in the form of camps, battles or quests, battles are mostly a single match against enemies whereas quests are text-based adventures, allowing you to make decisions based on the story presented. The stories themselves are rather fun and inventive, from mere mazes to interactions that lead onto quests into different dungeons.
Overall thoughts and feelings
The music in Regalia is top notch, from the same artist who worked on Furi and the Endless series. From quaint royal tunes while within the castle and kingdom segments to joyful and energetic battle songs. All the music I heard fit beautifully to the environment and situation, never falling into the background through my time in the demo.
Combined with the music, the graphics of Regalia are a breath of fresh air. While they are quite simple and sometimes pixel art in style, the colours all complement each other and it has a certain charm to it. While it might look childish at points the cast do wonderfully in their readings of English lines, with a wealth of different characters on offer. It was quite reassuring when the character swore and got angry at events, rather than a chibi style of storytelling.
There has been some translation errors here and there, from added letters, doubled words or whole paragraphs being in a different language. Most of the time these can be overlooked, your brain fixing the errors automatically, however the whole block of foreign language are hard to ignore. Some occurrences with the game crashing, animations not playing and announcements coming up at the wrong time also happen throughout, which can be immersion breaking.
The difficulty of the game is also brought into question, as levelling up, getting better gear and improving social links feels insignificant against the ever harder encounters. When I hit the 1000 HP mark I thought I could survive a round or 2, but plenty of fights later on will have your party wiped in 3 turns or less. With no real form of “grinding” to get better, as you cannot return to dungeons to gain materials easily unless you go into new dungeons, the difficulty just increases higher and higher. While it is great to have a hard RPG, it isn’t a good idea to cut off grinding, and as we are pushed along with a time limit we can’t spend enough time preparing for battle.
The city management, social events between characters and progression all felt fluid and enjoyable, with the characters all feeling fleshed out with finale quests for most of them. There are clichés thrown around for the archetypes but thankfully the game does make fun of these. It is also one of the few games where the protagonist shouts out about being used by the NPCs, which is a major breath of fresh air, reminding me of Yuri from Tales of Vesperia.
Overall Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs gets an 8/10, the story is great, voice acting on point for the majority as well as a pleasing soundtrack. The battle maps do become samey at times, while others offer multiple approaches to combat. There translation errors can get quite grating as well as the difficulty becoming too harsh at points. The building mechanic is a bit too straightforward, some more depth or benefit from them would have gone a long way. Some choices feel superfluous or give no real feedback to the player, especially in the form of the factions as you just send off letters. Regalia was on my list for potential Indie Game of the Year, but with 7 months left it might get dethroned.
Fans of Persona, Final Fantasy Tactics and Recettear should love this game as it combines themes and mechanics from all of those games. With plenty of references, jokes and nods to other games, movies and characters, this will be one to laugh with, not at.