Kingdom management is an old video gaming art form and comes under many guises. Yes, Your Grace sits you on the familiar throne of a medieval ruler. Armed with a rusty crown and shining coats of arms, you will rule, but to what purpose? Hear ye, hear ye…
Yes, Your Grace, you are Eryk, King of Davern, a Kingdom beset by social ills, and just scraping about. You might be a King, but you’ll soon find out how hapless you are! Yes, Your Grace has family surprises, political intrigue, and the usual dose of murder and mayhem. With limited resources, you’ll need all your wits about to reign successfully (or a least to see the narrative of the game unfold).
Playability: Does choice matter?
Yes, Your Grace is a mixture of kingdom management and interactive novel. Every week, the King has to deal with the conflicting demands of its needy people, powerful neighbours and his own family. The threat of a bandit army invasion prods you along. Gold and food will satisfy most people, more gold and more food will have your plebe dancing in the streets. Taxes are bad. Generals and witches in your employ will solve many problems, from roaming bandits to poisoned chalices (or apples?). Weekly supplicants line up and take turns with their requests. Annoyingly, you can’t prioritise quests or demands as your know about individual pleas only as they are formulated, one after another, in a single straight line. Too bad my good woman, I’ve already sent out my whole army to look for a plush toy. You’re starving? But alas, my treasury is invested in the construction of a much needed new inn. No matter how hard you try, your allocation of resources and agents will be woefully inefficient.
Annoyance: Needless clicking and slumbering navigation
You’ve probably noticed that the best online stores have effortless navigation and efficient add to cart buttons. Yes, Your Grace requires convoluted clicking for the simplest tasks. Click to get off your iron throne, click to wear your crown. Walk to the right (or was it left?) of the screen to access the map of your castle. Click to go to the main gate. Click again to climb up the stairs. Yes, Your Grace revels in copious clicking and navigation layers. Matters of state may require your utmost attention, but so do the nagging demands of the royal family, in particular your teenage children. At times, you’ll want to just give them the Ipad and the Playstation to keep them from pestering you week after week.
Beauty: Prodigious pixels with Borat voice over
Yes, Your Grace has pretty pixels, from expansive sceneries to meticulously crafted characters. You can point and click on objects from coats of arms to flowers for short pop up descriptions (not that it matters as this is not a point and click adventure). There is the option of turning off the voice over, or rather the Borat style gibberish over, which made me laugh at the most inopportune times. I often expected a wawa wee wa, I rule my own kingdom, very nice.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: No, you ungrateful peasant 5/10
For a medieval ruler, I often found myself powerless. What does His Grace care about the hungry farmers or the petty ailments of the populace? I had to contend with my attention starved family, heck, with a whole kingdom starved of attention. Weeks after weeks, faced with the numbing demands of countless faceless petitions, I clicked through endless choices. Did my decisions matter? Probably not, as long as I kept an eye on the gold, food and happiness counters. In the end, I was relieved to relinquish my crown for the simple pleasures of a pint with the lads.
If you’re into light hearted kingdom simulation, try Reigns, a tinder style, swipe left or right, medieval ruler. If you’re into nascent democracy simulation, try Suzerain, a politically gritty multiple choice adventure.