With as many RPGs out there as there are today, it can be tough for a smaller title to break through. Hell, it can be tough even to get to the point of release these days, which explains why developer Pixelated Milk turned to Kickstarter for their turn-based RPG, Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs. Originally released for Windows PC back in May 2017, the newly christened Royal Edition of the fantasy epic has now arrived on consoles. Can the crowd-funded effort succeed in an over-saturated market?
Doing away with the typically gloomy nature of fantasy titles, Regalia is a mostly light-hearted affair. After the death of their father, a trio of siblings find out that they have inherited the lost kingdom of Ascalia. It may be battered down and destroyed, but to Kay, Gwen and Elaine, as well as Kay’s loyal bodyguard Griffith, it’s at least a promising start. That is, until, the group learns about the staggering debt the Loren family carries to this day. With debt collector Mr. Crucey breathing down their necks, it’ll be up to the four of them to not only pay off their bills, but to also restore the ruined kingdom to it’s former greatness.
The idea of a comedic fantasy tale, I’ll admit, is appealing. And Regalia capitalizes on that appeal from time to time, but for the most part, the plot falls flat. The jokes are inconsistent, and I was groaning more often than I was chuckling. Without the humor to move it along, it’s tough to get invested in the story. The debt collection aspect is only really there to give you something to do, and a third-act plot twist never blossoms the way it needed to. Something that probably would have helped the title is if Pixelated Milk fleshed out more of the supporting cast. You unlock little vignettes if you choose to spend time with them, but it feels like a missed opportunity that they didn’t factor into the main plot more. Kay and Griffith aren’t interesting enough to carry the story, so why not use their colorful allies to bolster things?
While the plot may be out of the norm, the gameplay is rather formulaic. As turn-based RPG, Regalia does nothing you haven’t seen countless others do. If you’re at all familiar with the genre, you’ll be right at home with the grid-based action. Fortunately, there are worse things than being competent, which at the very worst, is what the gameplay is. There’s a good amount of variety to be found with the various characters Kay recruits to join his burgeoning kingdom. From the bruising heavy Levant to supporting diplomat Henrietta, you can mix your party up in a variety of ways. By the later chapters of the game, I found a group of four that worked best for me, but I still enjoyed playing around with my line-up to see what worked.
The good thing about Of Men and Monarchs, though, is that there’s more to it than just being a tactical RPG. The way the dungeons are structured goes a long way to alleviating some of the staleness that rises from the genre. Each section features a handful of battles, as well as smaller segments that are designed to flesh out the world around you. These text-based adventures typically call upon Kay to make a decision that a good King should be able to make. It’s a nice break from the battling, and a fresh way to not only demonstrate the power Loren could wield, but also to give some much needed personality to the land surrounding Ascalia.
On top of the dungeon exploring, there’s also the whole aspect of Kingdom Quests. As mentioned, the Loren family owes a sizable debt, but rather than making them pay it back immediately, Mr. Crucey offers them a deal. If they can continually show progress in the rise of Ascalia back to prominence, then he’s willing to not go after them too strongly. In order to show said progress, you’re given 50 or so days at a time to complete a given number of tasks from a list you have been helpfully provided. Clearing out dungeons is a major component of this, but they take up so much in-game time, that you’re going to have to focus on other goals as well. These range from developing bonds with the townsfolk to constructing new buildings to simply fishing. Failure to reach the set amount of Kingdom Quests for a given time period will result in a harsh penalty, however.
Typically, I’m not a fan of games that force a timer onto you, as it can stymie how you play the game. In Regalia, however, you have more than enough time to get your goals handled and out of the way. Kingdom Quests roll over from period to period as well, so the more you get done in one chapter, the easier the next one will be. My issue with this set-up, though, is that most of these quests just aren’t enjoyable. Crafting new weapons and items barely counts as an activity, and as I alluded to before, the characters aren’t fleshed out enough to make the relationship building goals anything other than a chore. It stinks because some of these goals, such as gaining support from other kingdoms, could have added another layer of strategy to the game. Instead, it just boils down to making a simple decision about an issue.
I’m not sure if this was the same for when the title first released, but the Royal Edition is a technical mess. The battles are frequently bogged down by lag, sometimes wildly oscillating from one encounter to another. It’s not like the action comes fast and furious during these sections either. It’s a turn-based RPG, one of the more languidly paced genres out there. The lag eventually became the least of my problems, though, as the title also repeatedly crashed on me. It happened during battles, during cutscenes, and even once while I was using the in-game menu. And with the game only letting you save at certain locations, it’s possible to lose a significant batch of progress if you’re unlucky. It’s one of the worst running games I can remember playing in recent memory.
As a fantasy adventure, the colorful look of Regalia suits the cheery plot. Most of the characters have great designs, and even if they don’t move a lot during cutscenes, they are still pleasant to look at. The surrounding kingdoms and dungeons also benefit from the title’s vibrant palette. Every location has the appropriate amount of color and character, although some additional details would have been nice. The sound design is not up to the same level, though. The voice acting is decent enough, but the same canned bits of dialogue tend to get repeated way too often. Same goes for the score, which honestly felt like it was comprised of about four songs. The same boring battle music or wacky cutscene music really started to grate on the ears after about the 100th time.
Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs – Royal Edition is a jack of many trades, but a master of none. The turn-based RPG gameplay is competent, but it brings nothing new to the table. The side-quests are a nice idea, and even provide a few highlights, but lacks the depth they needed in order to truly feel consequential. However, for as solid as the game is, the performance issues it possesses mar the entire experience. Its current state is borderline unacceptable, and it desperately needs to be patched as soon as possible.
This review was based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game, which was provided to us by the game’s publisher.
Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs is charming at times, and there's plenty to do, even if it may not always be exciting. However, the Royal Edition release is rotten with performance issues, including crippling lag and frustrating crashes.