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Follow up to Apple’s 2016 game of the year Reigns
Price: $3/£3 (currently $1/£1)
Size: 183 MB
Developer: Devolver Digital
Platform: iPhone and iPad
Update! We gave both Reigns and its sequel Her Majesty 5 stars each – that’s virtually unprecedented, and considering nothing quite as unique as this has hit the iPhone since it’s hardly a spoiler to say we still think it’s great.
So what’s new? The Reigns games are ripe for ongoing additions, but sadly Her Majesty has only received one proper update, adding an extra 200 new cards, some new characters, and some new deaths – but that was back in 2018. If you didn’t pick it back up after a solid run through on its launch, it’s definitely worth picking up again. And if you’re hankering for more, there’s now Reigns: Game of Thrones and Apple Arcade’s Reigns: Beyond to check out.
Revised rating: Still great. ★★★★★
Our original review, written in October 2017, is presented in its entirety below.
Who knew a sequel to the uniquely addictive card game Reigns was… well, on the cards. But surprise surprise, the developer has dropped a sequel drawing fans of the first game back for a second era of enlightenment.
For those that don’t know, the concept behind Reigns is both simple, but complex. The premise is that you play sequential monarchs, making decisions by swiping left of right on various cards about the church, the people, the army and your kingdom’s coffers – but you can’t please everyone, and if the counters for those aforementioned parties get too high, or too low, then you may be overthrown. And it usually ends up pretty grisly.
The sequel, Reigns: Her Majesty, takes off pretty much where the last game left off – or rather, parallel to its predecessor. In reality, it’s almost identical to the first title. But is that a bad thing? Not at all. Think of it more as an extension to the original. This time, to even things up, the focus is on queens rather than kings, and the dev team has introduced a new writer to freshen things up. While the gameplay follows the same approach, the shift to the female monarch opens up new stories and new opportunities.
As noted earlier, the premise is fairly straight-forward – balance your decisions and live a long reign, or fail and get your head chopped off. But where it gets complex is in the various quests that thread through the game. In many ways, both Reigns and its sequel can be as deep as you want them to be. You could satisfy yourself with just trying to last as long as possible on the throne, or you can follow the quests provided at the start of each reign. How to achieve these quests is not always clear, but that makes it all the more satisfying to complete one, such as meeting an explorer or having a child.
While this game can, effectively, be “completed” depending on your decisions and the story threads you follow, its so varied and in-depth that many will get hours of gameplay out of this before coming close to the end, in the far distant future. But along the way players will be surprised by the odd bursts of weirdness that seemingly come out of nowhere, to both disrupt and enrich the narrative.
When we reviewed Reigns in 2016, we awarded it a full five stars, both surprised and overjoyed by its originality, addictiveness and depth. It would be wrong of us not to give this sequel the same score considering the developers have gone just as deep into the stories and the characters, while throwing in a few extras such as an inventory where you can use collected items at the right time. This new feature complicates things slightly, but it’s refreshing and steers clear of being overwhelming.
While a third edition might have to mix it up further (Reigns: Petulant Prince, anyone?), for now fans of the original have an equally strong title, and newbies all of a sudden have two incredible games to play.
- Neat twist on the original idea
- Unique gameplay
- Rich storytelling
- Occasionally (but only very occasionally) repetitive