Reigns: Her Majesty review – Inheriting greatness

Credit: Devolver Digital
Credit: Devolver Digital /

Reigns: Her Majesty ushers in the rule of an eternal queen with a new set of tricky power balances to manage … and items to throw at whoever displeases you.

Developer: Nerial
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: iOS, Android, PC (Version reviewed)
Release Date: December 7, 2017

An eternal reign, a hundred deaths, stunning beauty and exasperation with men may sound like a curse, but Reigns Her Majesty makes an endless (or not) reincarnation cycle of queens into a witty, strategic adventure. Reigns Her Majesty follows the same formula as its kingly predecessor, Reigns, but with a new twist–an item inventory you’ll continuously inherit from yourself that can be upgraded and used to influence people…or confuse the heck out of them.

As a fledgling queen, you’ll be presented with a constant onslaught of advisers, servants, supplicants and the occasional magical creature or person, all of whom want you to make decisions. To each request, you can swipe left or right to choose one of two options, each of which will affect your four keys to power in some way, causing the church, the people, the army, and the treasury to gain or lose power. The goal in Reigns Her Majesty is for balance; at least as long as you can manage it. You die if any of the four powers grows too strong or too weak. Of course, death just reincarnates you as the next queen, but you’ll often need to survive certain attempts long enough to accomplish your long-term goals.

reigns her majesty
Credit: Devolver Digital /

…the need to survive also serves as a challenge to players to explore and experiment for desired outcomes.

Nerial was lauded for the witty writing in Reigns, and they’ve cranked up the cleverness in Her Majesty with a saucy splash of feminism. You’re constantly being asked to make judgments, large and small, on the role of women and your own role as queen. There is a king in power, certainly, but he’s quick to remind you when you start to act a little too ruler-ish that he’s the one with the real power. It falls to you to say the right things and move in the right ways to keep the kingdom stable…even if it’s tempting to please the common people by embracing their forest goddess and going full-on girl-power. It’s just oh-so-satisfying to give a snappy response when some jerk courtier tells you to smile…if you can do so without being trampled by a mob of adoring peasants.

Though you won’t have the devil breathing down your back in Reigns Her Majesty, there are still long-term goals to accomplish. Certain decisions played right will bring new characters and new cards to the deck, allowing you to discover new story paths and upgrade your items. Your inventory of five items is necessary to navigate the world beyond your castle. You can drag items up and use them on any card, potentially changing the track of the conversation and your eventual destiny, or even letting you cheat death. Not all item uses are immediately intuitive, though, so sometimes you just have to throw things to get a result.

reigns her majesty
Credit: Devolver Digital /

Experiencing the variation of each new queenly life is even more fun in Her Majesty since the sign-specific cards constantly change your encounters. You’ll still experience some repetition, but these encounters serve as helpful, known quantities to balance the mistakes you’ll make chasing the unknown. You can’t always make “moral” decisions deliberately if you want to live a long, fulfilling life. But the need to survive also serves as a challenge to players to explore and experiment for desired outcomes. If you want to find all the hidden cards, you’ll need to find the game’s toughest choices in specific situations…then make the right ones.

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The queenly sequel fixes the biggest flaw of its predecessor by doing away with events occurring in specific years (resulting in a ruined run if you couldn’t complete certain tasks in time) and replacing them with an astral calendar that travels through the zodiac signs. Certain events can only occur under certain signs, but if you miss something you want, you can just wait for the wheel to turn again. The result is a less frustrating game, but it’s also a shorter one … sort of. Reaching The End of Reigns: Her Majesty the first time isn’t an especially satisfying conclusion. But it leaves a meta element hanging over your head that may prompt you to try again and look for different outcomes. Some characters, items, and circumstances may never appear to you if you just book it through the game’s easy-to-follow path.

reigns her majesty
Credit: Devolver Digital /

Her Majesty launches today, and as of release, there are still a few bugs to work out, particularly pertaining to the items. None of the bugs are game-breaking, but some of the items can be used in ways that I’m sure weren’t intended to defy death in situations where the item has no scripted interaction with a character. Furthermore, the first of my three runs through the game was unable to be completed due to a vital, early game encounter never occurring. The needed interaction appeared in both of my subsequent runs after a bug fix was implemented to patch a different problem, so it may very well be that the encounter has also been fixed permanently.

The few minor bugs do little to hinder the excellent rule of Reigns Her Majesty. Reigns was easily my mobile GOTY when it came out, and Her Majesty stands ready to take that throne this year, too. It’s ideal for mobile–fitting for short bursts of play, and easy with its swipe right and left mechanics. Playing on Steam works just as well, but tempts you into longer sessions. A single completion is admittedly less satisfying than I’d like, especially on PC where you can burn through in one sitting. But you can’t only reign once. Her Majesty continually draws you back in for more eternal adventures by removing many of the frustrations of its predecessor and adding more variety, more wit, and more secrets to uncover.

8. Reigns: Her Majesty brings just the right amount of brilliant new additions to the great gameplay of Reigns to complicate strategy without overwhelming. A better system of time passage and a wider variety of story paths alleviate any monotony, though a few small bugs still managed to creep in. The wry, self-aware writing remains Nerial’s strong suit, uplifting the gameplay and drawing players in until they, like the game’s protagonist, are eagerly reliving lives over and over again.. Nerial. . Reigns: Her Majesty

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.