It’s JRPG week on Xbox One, it seems. What with Ys Origin, Earthlock (well, not technically a JRPG, but close in design) and Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs – Royal Edition. Regalia is a tactical story-driven affair that sees you taking on the role of Kay Loren, a young prince who is about to endure the worst week of his short life so far. Following the death of his father, it now falls to Kay to restore his family’s kingdom back to its former glory. Debt has been accumulating for generations now, no thanks to Kay’s ancestors, and Kay is expected to pay the bill. How is Kay going to pay this back? Well, restoring the kingdom is the answer, but achieving that daunting goal is going to take some time and commitment.
Joined by his faithful bodyguard Griffith, alongside his sisters Gwendolyn and Elaine, Kay soon receives some words of wisdom regarding his predicament from the spirit of his grandfather, and so, the adventure begins. This amounts to questing and obtaining resources in the hopes that you have enough coin to provide the debt collectors what they require, before they come knocking periodically. Unlike other traditional RPGs, Regalia has quite a bit of management that players will need to contend with. You’re given a set amount of time before the debt collector arrives, as well as some goals that you will need to achieve before that happens. Mercifully, this aspect of the game is not overly daunting, in fact it’s quite well developed I might add.
Players are tasked with heading off on quests, in which most of the time you’re given a heap of resources that come in handy to improve your kingdom’s up-rise. You’ll also need to meet people on top of greeting other folks to maintain moral. Despite the grim premise, Regalia proves to be an endearing and lighthearted adventure. The dialogue is never off point, constantly delivering clever, funny and witty remarks whenever the opportunity arises. It helps that the characters are so well written, too, making it all the more easier to bond with them both individually and as a unified body. I wont go so far as to say that it’s flawless throughout, but I will say that I haven’t played a game of this type (in recent memory) where I was as thoroughly connected to its cast as I was here.
The writing doesn’t just set the scene, or even the foundation of the journey at hand, but it truly gives Regalia its unique spirit. Sure, there’s the occasional character that you hope will just piss off, but for the most part, everything from the cast to the storytelling is top notch from beginning to end. Regardless of the clear-cut goal, Regalia is a surprisingly open experience. The game houses its own time system, down to the time, day and even year. This counts down with every action that you make, and when you take into account that you’ve got a lot of ground to cover, you would be forgiven for believing that Regalia may be somewhat strict. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, whilst you do need to juggle several aspects at the same time, more so later in, Regalia does a good job at making sure the player never feels overburdened or overwhelmed.
When you begin, you’re immediately told that you have a set amount of time to clear a set amount of objectives, or else it’s game over. There are many ways to complete each challenge, be it clearing up a dungeon, upgrading and rebuilding the city and even spending time with your main party to become stronger allies. Each and every single action will take different time allocation away from you. For example, building a new structure could take a single day away from you, whereas traveling to a dungeon could swallow up three days of your time just getting there. This, is where it pays off to carefully consider your options and approach each scenario with some forward thinking. Dungeon clearing, as you might have guessed, is where the actual turn-based combat makes an appearance. Mercifully, this is as clean and as easy to digest as can be.
Before each battle commences you’re able to choose where you wish to place each party member on the grid. Once done, you’re able to move and attack in any order that you like. Additional attacks can be earned as each round progresses, as well as meeting a wide range of new party members as the adventure unfolds. Each new character comes with their own unique attacks and abilities that can be upgraded, which you can harness via hitting RB and selecting from a pool of outputs; fire, ice, ranged, support and so on and so forth. My only gripe here is that the cursor tends to have a mind of its own and given the fact that you cant rotate the camera angle or see through/behind objects, it can become a bit jarring to maneuver. Party capacity is of course capped, which adds another layer of strategy into the mix. It doesn’t take too long to suss out a character’s strengths and weaknesses however, but it does fall to the player to decide who is better suited for specific encounters.
It’s worth pointing out that as you grow your relationships with your characters and allies, new quests and skills will gradually open up to you. Something that comes in very useful when you’re late in the game and squaring up against the more capable of foes. This, once again, showcases just how diverse Regalia is. Each and every system or thread that you chase will benefit you in the long run, providing of course that it doesn’t detract from your overall goal of clearing your debt. It doesn’t matter whether you’re dungeon clearing, fishing, leveling up, chatting to your nearest and dearest, or bettering the future of your capital, Regalia has been developed to constantly reward your hard work. The game also includes choice factors that can affect your relationships with your allies. It’s not too in-depth, but it does add a nice touch.
Moving to the visuals, I quite enjoyed Regalia’s diverse and well detailed locations. It’s nothing special, don’t get me wrong, but the game does well at ensuring that players are constantly treated to new sights and environments throughout. The same can be said about the decent soundtrack, which keeps the theme of the game grounded and really compliments Regalia’s distinct personality. Now for the elephant in the room, usability. Regalia on console is naturally inferior to its PC counterpart. There are several elements of the game that I can only imagine feel much better with keyboard and mouse, whether it’s the navigation, browsing the menus, or selecting basic commands, the controller just doesn’t feel entirely suited here. Still, when all is said and done, this is a decent adventure that any fan of the genre should take on, or certainly at least consider.
Despite its seemingly grim premise, Regalia goes on to produce a surprisingly witty, well structured and strategic RPG adventure. There’s no denying that this game is better suited on the keyboard and mouse, but if you can overlook these niggling controller issues, a wonderfully written and endearing journey awaits.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.