In Royals, you are a mere peasant tasked with the lofty goal of becoming a Royal. It’s no mean feat and how you’re meant to achieve this is not at all clear (somewhat like real life). To make matters worse you have pretty much no money or resources and have limited time due to aging faster than the production-cycle of an average Five Nights at Freddy’s fan game (three were developed while I wrote this post).
Royals pretty much perfectly captures what this blog is about. Claiming to have ‘found’ the game on an old 3.44″ floppy disc, the developer has uploaded the game to his website. Royals certainly looks authentic, the graphics, sound and gameplay all rather perfectly emulate the look of the late 80s/early 90s, and I could easily imagine myself playing this on the good old 386 after school. True to fashion, there is no hand-holding tutorial, instruction guide or explanatory user interface – you have to learn by doing (and dying).
Luckily (and inline the other aspect this blog is about), Royals has just enough modern sensibility to avoid feeling too oblique or punishing, ensuring you won’t feel like giving up before your heady ascension to Monarch status. It’s quick and easy to play, and wont take long to finish a ’round’ (also known as ‘dying’). This encourages experimentation and learning, and with each successive playthrough you feel that ‘little bit closer’ to figuring out how to beat the game. That really is part of the feeling I’ve missed from old school games – the process of learning how the game works, then learning how to beat it, was usually a major part of the experience.
It didn’t take long, by my third or fourth game I had figured out how to win. From there, it’s possible to win every time. Now that I’m a king I will dispense some charitable advice for those of you who get stuck (spoiler alert). The first goal is to recruit a sizable gathering of followers, so that you can start generating resources more efficiently. There are a variety of options, such as ‘converting’ buildings, but the best way is to send someone to the pub to ‘schmooze’. Put your increasing army of followers to work, gathering different resources. Meanwhile, you need to take care of your health. Every turn your health goes down by one, representing aging. To improve your life expectancy, you need to find or build a proper house to rest in. The best house will give you 3 health a turn, which at first will increase your health much faster than it decreases. There are a variety of options for acquiring the best house, from building one to converting someone else’s. Once you’ve gotten stable, with a good pool of health and ensemble of followers, there are basically two elements to victory, how you get a castle (build one or takeover the existing one) and how to win over the country. Secondly, you must also decide which combination of resources you want to utilise to get there (charm, wood, money, power). To build a castle, you need a ton of wood. To take over a castle you need either charm or power. Once that is settled, you can’t rest on your laurels yet – the country itself must accept you. You can basically be a dictator and take over by force, requiring power, or be a more savvy political type and win through charm. Once you’ve decided on these, it is simply a matter of focusing on the right resource-gathering actions. Spoilers end here.
Since most of the fun is in figuring out how to beat the game, there isn’t much replayability once you’ve cracked it. I played again one more time to try a different approach to winning, and that was it. You may want to try again to refine your score, but there isn’t much incentive. Still, it’s free and it perfectly nails the vibe and spirit of old school games, so even if it is a short trip down nostalgia lane, it’s a good one.
Royals | download