The original Reigns [$2.99] delighted basically everyone when it was released last year. We loved it in our review, and really, my primary criticism of the game is how much it left me wanting more. Well, I've been playing an early copy of the upcoming sequel, Reigns: Her Majesty, for a while now and that's exactly what we're getting. If you've never played Reigns before, the easiest way to describe it is a deceptively deep lightweight RPG that's played entirely through Tinder-like swiping and binary decisions. You manage your kingdom and its relationships between the church, the people, the military, and the treasury. It's unbelievably compelling, and universally adored.

This time around players assume the role of a queen (as indicated by the title) which introduces several amusing dynamics to the game. You'll deal with the king (who always seems like a bit of an oaf), face various other romantic interests, give birth to heirs, and much more as you die over and over and over- Reborn again each time to continue as a new queen. The original Reigns featured the same gimmick powering the whole thing.

One massive improvement Her Majesty makes over Reigns is the introduction of the zodiac system. In the original [very mild Reigns spoiler ahead] the point of the game was breaking your curse that kept bringing you back to life by beating the devil. The problem was, this required doing very specific things at specific times in the game, and none of it was very obvious. Additionally, if you missed doing something at a specific time, you pretty much needed to start over if you wanted to get the "real" ending.

In Her Majesty, major events orbit around doing certain things under specific zodiac signs. So, instead of missing vital parts in Reigns and basically screwing yourself over, you just wait until you have a queen born under the correct sign. (And there may be a way to change that which you might potentially discover while playing. *cough*) This is a huge quality of life improvement for folks hunting for the "good" ending of the game.

Another new addition that adds a further interesting winkle to the formula is an item system. As you play you'll collect various do-dads, so instead of swiping left or right to make a decision, there's a potential third option that comes from dragging an item from your inventory up into a card. For instance, very early in the game you'll get a specific item which when shown to your handmaiden triggers a different dialog tree. (Trying to be as vague as possible to avoid spoilers.)

What's amusing is that you need to pick up clues for what these items do and when you're supposed to be using them. If you just try to give everyone every item you have, they'll assume you've gone insane and that'll be the end of your game. It's a super clever dynamic, and it adds loads more layers of mystery and complexity- Particularly when you throw the zodiac system into the mix.

Of course, like the original Reigns, Her Majesty has oodles of cards which get introduced in bundles when you fulfill specific objectives or stumble across different characters while ruling your kingdom. Overall, it seems like there's just a lot more to do, which is really all we wanted from Reigns.

I could dig way deeper, but I've got to save something for our review which we'll be publishing along with everyone else when the embargo hits just before release. Currently, they're saying the game will be available on December 7th, but it seems like most games have been sneaking out on the App Store a little earlier than planned this time of year so don't be too surprised if you see it before then. If for some reason the game hits in the middle of the night before our review, just buy it. Reigns: Her Majesty is incredible.

  • Saveria

    Reigns is one of the only games I've gotten one of my non-gaming friends to get into. Look forward to showing her this one later next week

  • http://borisy.net borisy

    > ... when the embargo hits just before release.
    Which means you posted this review against developer permission and violation embargo?

    Main issue with the first game for me lack of persistence, game would not save its progress, it makes it unplayable. Generally this games lack of native Game Centre achievement and odd feel when swiping is cause by supporting all platforms instead of iOS only. I wish this game is iOS exclusive.

    • gquiller

      I could dig way deeper, but I've got to save something for our review which we'll be publishing along with everyone else when the embargo hits just before release.

      • http://borisy.net borisy

        Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm convinced embargo means you can't post anything about the product.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        It depends. In this case we have the developer's blessing to post this preview, so I'm not sure what the kerfuffle is about.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Just need something to be mad about.