Last updated on April 27th, 2017
The tactical RPG, particularly prominent in the Japanese RPG (JRPG) sub-genre has fallen a bit out of favor in recent western gaming. The norm today in the wast has been open world, action adventure RPG experiences that play out in real time. However, the desire for those quirky experiences like Persona and Disgaea have not disappeared from gamers completely and a resurgence is potentially due. One such project coming soon is Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs a Kickstarter backed game from Polish developer Pixelated Milk, which looks to bring the western audience a little more back into the fold of deep RPG gameplay.
Developed by: Pixelated Milk
Published by: Klabater
Release date: May 18th, 2017
Platforms: PC (PS4 & Vita Versions Also Coming)
Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs Features
- A Disgaea meets Persona formula with a western twist on the classic strategy JRPG genre.
- A robust turn-based combat system with the right balance between complexity and fluidity.
- An attractive look and feel, with hand-drawn 2D backgrounds and a soundtrack produced by Game Audio Factory
- Light 4X elements – build your own village, conduct diplomacy, send your companions on expeditions for resources and treasures.
- A huge cast of characters to meet, recruit and befriend through Social Links.
Story & Setting
Regalia’s story is a change from the standard world saving epics that involve mass destruction, supervillains and other crazy overarching plots. Instead the focus is on a light hearted, humor tinged story about a young man who somewhat backs into ruling the kingdom of Ascalia which is far from wondrous. Rather than a sprawling idyllic castle, he inherits a realm beset by debt and a kingdom of a crumbling infrastructure.
This creates the impetus to go forward and explore, adventure, build and create alliances. Think of it as a massive public works project. As the new ruler, you play as Kay, and will venture out with your closest companions to bolster your resources, bring prosperity to your subjects, and peace to the land. Simple tasks for any politician, right? As you venture forth into the larger overworld you will meet a cast of new characters to develop relationships with, find dungeons to explore for loot and resources, and other nations to make peace (or war) with.
The core of Regalia’s gameplay are the battles in combat which take place on an isometric grid, via the turn-based combat system fans of the genre have come to love. You will assemble a party of characters that consist of yourself and 4 additional companions, of which there are 12 to choose from. Pains have been taken to make every character and enemy feel unique.
As expected on a grid system, you can manipulate the battlefied, pushing and pulling characters around the board, applying buffs and debuffs and other combat maneuvers. When dealing with damage, you won’t be healing, instead you will have some options in how you protect your character from taken damage using something called shield points. The classes you choose will all use ability points to spend on their unique skills in battle, which can be further customized as you progress as well as weapons and armor. The battles themselves unfold as part of a larger dungeon crawl or large scale encounter, similar to traditional tabletop gameplay. In true RPG fashion, as you succeed in battle, you’ll earn better loot the deeper into a dungeon you go.
Outside of battles, a prominent feature of the game is the village mechanic. At the beginning of the game, you’ll have a rather lackluster castle which will have to be improved via harvesting resources and gold. When you gather enough wealth, you can build new structures in your village and upgrade existing ones. Each structure has a unique villager assigned to it who will confer benefits to you, such as a blacksmith who lets you upgrade your weapons and armor. You can access the entire town, visiting your villagers and exploring every structure you’ve built. The castle itself will serve the function of party housing and central hub. Characters and villagers will mingle about and chat amongst themselves letting you observe mini cutscenes.
Beyond your town, the overworld is a throwback to the classic structure, but without any of the content blocked off. You’ll be able to effectively go anywhere from the start. The world is built from a mix of fixed and procedural elements to add some variety and replayability. The world consists of 2 regions that you can explore with your party or send expedition teams out to explore on your behalf. Dungeons are randomized from layout to enemies, but in addition to them you’ll find resource areas, treasure spots and something called text adventures which are short, self-contained stories that will play out differently depending on the choices you make. Now that’s old school! Everything you do when exploring gets recorded in your codex, allowing you to revisit the lore you are exploring and building. Weather and seasons add further world elements that provide new considerations and block or open up paths.
We mentioned Persona earlier, so where’s the link? Social links! Every villager or companion has a social link mechanic that you can develop. Similar to the Persona series, spending time interacting with the character will open up your relationship with them as you better understand their personl story. As you develop these relationships through 5 stages, you will unlock gameplay benefits along the way. These can take the shape of new crafting recipes, merchant discounts, skill mods and more. Furthermore, these developed links will sometimes open up new quests which will reward you with rare loot.
There are 6 factions in Regalia, and they each have a political rival, so you can ally with up to 3 in a playthrough making enemies of the other 3 of course. Diplomacy works similar to the social links, but you’ll be making friends with entire nations as opposed to individual characters. Making friends with one nation will alienate another so this will have implications for your progression. However, gaining allies leads to benefits like financial, buildings you can construct that are faction specific and 6 unique potential party members, although because of alliances you will be limited to 3 in one playthrough, further encouraging replayability. The factions themselves are distinct, covering a variety of cultural archetypes like elves, dwarves, and gnomes but giving them unique twists like being samurais.
The game itself unfolds over a period of two years and you’ll have to manage that passage of time, again similar to the Persona series. Whether you engage in combat, exploring, or developing your relationships with people and nations, time will be passing and you will have to make choices on how you spend it. Every week, new buffs and debuffs unlock and every 3 months your progress gets evaluated. Between those 3 month evaluations you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. You’ll get a ton of quests and goals you can complete at your pleasure and you’re never really forced into any kind of railroaded story content. You can opt to spend the entire chapter killing stuff, or you can spend it all making friends. There will be rewards for both balanced and focused playthroughs so you’re free to approach it however you’re bend is. If you don’t make the grade within time, the game will end. You won’t be able to do everything in a single playthrough so you will have to make tradeoffs. The good thing is that anything you can’t get to can be taken care of in New Game+.
As an indie RPG that is promoted as having over 30 hours of gameplay, Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs looks to be a very promising experience and a potential hidden gem. It’s merging of JRPG conventions and quirks with a light and humorous story give it a very welcoming vibe that is deep but approachable. If you find yourself longing for more of the classic JRPG and tactical roleplay, this is one to look out for when it releases May 18th.