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Video Game / Reigns

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Centuries ago you asked for eternal power in exchange for your soul... Fortunately you didn't mention anything about immortality.
The King is dead... Long live the king!

A Simulation Game by Nerial and Devolver Digital, Reigns puts you in control of a succession of kings. Control of the realm sits at your fingertips; a single swipe left or right determines how you respond to each situation that your royal court brings to your attention. Each decision, no matter how minor it might seem at the time, dictates how your story unfolds over generations. As a result Reigns has a deck-building mechanic: Certain choices will add new cards, and thus new events and problems. How will your story unfold? How will each of your rulers be remembered?

Hit Steam, Android and iOS on August 11th, 2016. A sequel, Reigns: Her Majesty came out on December 6th, 2017. A third game Reigns: Kings & Queens (with all content from both games and enabling local co-op) for Nintendo Switch would release in summer 2018, with a spinoff based on Game of Thrones released in October 2018. The fourth game, Reigns Beyond, was released in November 2020 and has you play as captain and lead guitarist of a rock band in space.

An asymmetric party Board Game for 3-6 people, Reigns: The Council was funded through Kickstarter.

This Simulation Game contains instances of:

  • And I Must Scream: The bad endings where you either rot in Hell for eternity or keep your immortality. Both are a painful eternal punishment.
  • Anything That Moves: You actually get an achievement for romancing a pigeon.
  • Artistic License History: There weren't actually dragons or skeleton-filled dungeons in history, and your medieval kingdom can continue reigning on long after the Middle Ages ended in real life.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Used frequently to mask the actual outcomes of choices. For example, when the King is informed of an expy of Santa Claus operating in the city, one option is to call for the Executioner; implying that the King wishes Santa to be executed. In fact, calling the Executioner has him confess that he's the alleged Saint Nick and just wants to spread joy because he's so dissatisfied with his job of executing criminals all day.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Letting the people meter overflow results in the king getting overthrown peacefully and being well-regarded by history. Or the mob can set fire to your residence, causing you to die jumping out of a window in a last effort to save yourself.
  • Curse Escape Clause: Out of boredom, the Devil places a death curse upon you, so that the first person you say "Yes" to thereafter will die. It can be undone however and screw up the Deal with the Devil too. Wait long enough, until you come across the skeleton and answer "Yes" to its question. The Devil realizes he's now trapped in a paradox, as he cannot kill someone who is already dead.
  • Decadent Court: As you might expect, the members of your court aren't always trustworthy, and can potentially betray you for their own ends... especially if you've given their faction too much power.
  • Deal with the Devil: At a certain point, you learn that you once sold your soul for eternal power. Too bad you didn't ask for immortality as well...
  • Death by Childbirth: One choice that might come is whether to avert this or play it straight: Do you tell the Doctor to save the Queen or your Child?
  • Dem Bones: The Dungeon seems to be absolutely filled with hostile skeletons.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: A core element of gameplay. You don't want any of your meters to bottom out, but maxing one out completely can lead to your reign ending as well.
  • Earn Your Title: Depending upon your actions, your current monarch can earn a variety of titles, which always take the form of 'Name The Whatever'. Not all of these are complimentary. And of course, they may not live long enough to be remembered as anything.
  • Everyone Is Bi: If you ask the Witch for a way to find love, you can choose male characters as well as female, all of which are potentially receptive to your affections.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The Royal Dog gets very distressed whenever The Devil's about to pay a visit.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Word of God says the game invokes this intentionally through its primary mechanic of swiping to make a binary choice. The player is meant to feel rather uncomfortable with the disconnect between the simplicity of the control scheme and the wide-spanning (and often terrible) consequences their decisions lead to.
    • Fatal Flaw: That the King's choices are always so limited by the structure of the game itself almost invariably leads to his demise at the end of each reign.
    • Another aspect of the game is that the game states that each King is a reincarnation of the last (even if the previous king hasn't technically died yet). Each King seems to have his own memories and his own personality based on his actions, but can't remember his previous lives. Of course, the player does remember the previous kings' actions.
  • Guide Dang It!: Trying to unlock the better endings of the game is almost outright impossible just from the scarce hints in the game itself.
    • Even the developers have advised against trying to get the achievement for reading every available card (there are over 700, and some for extremely rare and specific circumstances).
  • Heir Club for Men: Only a Prince is considered worthy of inheriting the Throne. Justified as the ruler must be male for the Deal with the Devil to work.
  • Interface Screw: Some of the effects you can trigger alter how you perceive the game. For instance, a King can become hard of hearing, turning random parts of the dialogue into gibberish and making it harder to determine which choice to make.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Decisions you make can catch up to you. For instance, a King who neglects and exploits his people can end up usurped, or losing his power because there's nobody left to rule over.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Taking a Lover prevents you from telling them 'No', no matter what they propose to you. On the bright side, your kingdom's filled with shippers.
  • The Magnificent: All of the titles you can earn take this form, though some aren't as nice-sounding as others.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: If someone starts claiming that your king is the father of her son, they can choose to accept the boy as their own or have the problem quietly dealt with.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Your kings can meet any number of grisly ends: murdered by a pagan mob, burnt by a dragon, drowned, heart attack, tortured and fed to dogs, etc. Dying of old age is considered a major achievement.
  • Morton's Fork: On some runs and individual reigns you will get screwed by some of the choices given to you, and its not a case of Guide Dang It!. Critical events will happen every so often where you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Answering will result in either your military failing, your population crashing, or your treasury going bust.
  • Multiple Endings: There are three basic outcomes:
    • Golden Ending: You figure out how to trick The Devil into attempting an impossible task.
    • Out-Gambitted: You attempt to do the above, but fail, and burn eternally in Hell.
    • If you fail the conditions for either of the above, you get to keep playing... forever.
  • Mushroom Samba: There are several color-coded mushrooms you can eat. Some of these effects are naturally better than others.
  • Number of the Beast: Significant in that the Devil checks in on you every 666 years.
  • The Plague: One death has you die from this due to the Doctor's experiments, and your population can end up decimated by the Black Death.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Glowing red eyes let you know that The Devil is speaking through somebody/has taken their form.
  • Rule of Three: The Devil will only visit you three times.
  • Sadistic Choice: Some decisions place you in a no-win situation.
    • The Devil is particularly fond of presenting you with these. For instance, they can make it so that the next person you say 'Yes' to dies.
  • Shout-Out: One objective is to date a bird. Said bird is a white pigeon named Sakuya, and completing the objective earns you the title "the Boyfriend".
  • Stealth Pun: The reindeer used for the game's background on Steam. It's a "reign"deer.
  • Technical Pacifist: It's possible to subvert The Devil's curse on you by surviving one hundred years without saying 'Yes' to anyone and thus saving the other characters from a horrible death. The Devil will appear to grudgingly congratulate you for your efforts and remove the curse, earning you the True Pacifist achievement... even if you may well have caused plenty of death through various other means.
  • The Theocracy: One of the Status Effects. It makes money no longer an issue, but you can no longer say 'no' to the Church's demands
  • Torches and Pitchforks: There's quite a few ways to get your king lynched by an angry mob.
  • Un-person: In one death, it's noted that your king's name is erased from the records of history.
  • Witch Hunt: The Church seems to specialize in these, seeking your permission to go after actual (or accused) witches as well as others they distrust and despise.

Reigns: Her Majesty also contains examples of:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: The citizens are naturally superstitious, and if you build thirteen towers, someone will suggest you add a fourteenth in order to avoid this.
  • Behind Every Great Man: The King is supposed to be ruling, but that doesn't prevent the Queen from making decisions in his name...
  • Cat/Dog Dichotomy: Where the original game featured a dog as the royal pet, Her Majesty keeps a black and white cat instead.
  • Death by Childbirth: Like the original, can be played straight or avoided. Trying for a baby before recruiting a doctor is a Bad Idea. Having a second baby during a single reign is also pushing your luck.
  • Gainax Ending: The All-Mother is actually The Defragmentantion program designed to eliminate rogue artificial intelligences accidentally constructed while the user is spreading their consciousness in neuralized cyberspace... wait what?
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: You can choose to make evil decisions for your kingdom as queen, but you will be punished in the long run.
  • Heir Club for Men: Potentially subverted. A character with a legal background points out that the Queen takes power upon the King's death, even if there is a Prince.
  • The High Queen: You can choose to make good decisions for your kingdom as queen, but your reign can still end even if you maintain your reputation if one of your meters overflows.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Over time, the Queen can amass a variety of items which she can use to unlock special interactions. Or make people question why she's randomly throwing things around. They'll eventually progress from bewilderment to a more lethal reaction.
  • Karma Houdini: The Cardinal, who is a constant source of pain and annoyance who will lead a witch hunt to burn you if you defy the church too much, and who will callously kill you in a "test of faith" for sainthood should you ever play along too well with him. Even in cards that allow you to work against the church, you never really get the chance to stick it to him directly. Your only option to do so comes if you've allowed the vampire to turn you, in which case he's a possible victim for your rampage.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Like the original game, your queens can meet many deaths such as; Drowning, Burning Alive, Strangled by Vines, Hung for treason, Locked away to perish and much more. Dying of old age as a widow is quite a challenge, but worth it in the end.
  • Multiple Endings: Like the previous game. The three endings aren't so straightforward, though. It all comes down to what you do after you trigger the eclipse. If you've upgraded all your items to their "hacked" forms, you can use them in a certain order when the All-Mother confronts you to defeat her. If you don't resist, or fail to do so correctly or without all the correct items, you'll lose. Both options place you in a bizarre data screen where jumbles of words form into odd platitudes before the screen eventually rolls the credits and starts the game over with a fresh file.
  • Together in Death: Played straight, or potentially subverted. The player can respond to the King initiating this by shooting him, and going on to outlive him.
  • Trigger-Happy: Several negative outcomes can be avoided or altered with a pistol shot, or even just by brandishing the pistol. The King can be killed to avoid 3 of the 8 most common game overs.
  • Witch Hunt: There isn't that many instances of this, but a major character is introduced through one. And while the Church never directly calls you one, they take a dim view of any attempt to utilize anything supernatural, and they can put you on trial and/or execute you for heresy.

Reigns: Beyond contains examples of:

  • Brown Note: Should you buy some speakers out of a black market, The noise produced by the speakers is that loud, you end up eradicating ALL life within a few hundred kilometres.
  • Critical Annoyance: When a subsystem falls close to 0, that subsystem's icon will unhinge itself from the HUD, slanted in whatever way the player swiped. When two or more subsystems are very low, you can hear an alarm going off continuously until either at least only one subsystem is left low or until you die.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: This is how you start off the game, waking up from cryosleep, only to find out from the Sandman that everybody else is dead.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Two of the deaths have this happen to you. The first way can happen by draining the crew's morale, to the point where they jettison you out of the Sandman in a spacesuit left to suffocate. Another has you trying to get a guitar, but accidentally tripping up and getting yourself jettisoned out into space.
  • Visual Pun: The loan shark is a literal anthropomorphic shark.