Rebuild Devestated Villages With Your Royal Managing Skills
The colony of Islandshire is in trouble! A violent rainstorm has devastated the settlements, leaving all the good people homeless. The colonists are well renowned for their craftsmanship, and their production reaches its highest point during the rainy season, which, unfortunately, hasn’t even begun!
Well, we cannot have that, not when they make such fabulous shoes fit for a king! So his Majesty assigns you to oversee the rebuilding of Islandshire, on the basis that you are intelligent, competent, organized, bold, decisive, good-looking, and most of all, not wearing a silly powdered wig!
A Nice Big of Humor In the Story
Thus begins the story of Royal Envoy. In general, it is pretty basic stuff, mostly acting as an excuse to plan and rebuild the various villages of Islandshire, and give context to the challenges you encounter. It can be pretty funny at times, what with its cast of quirky characters, including the fashionista king, your beleaguered assistant Cedric, and the underage dread pirate Tippi Longboots to name a few, but it’s unlikely anything is going to stick with you. But it gets the job done.
One nice touch about it, though, is that you can review all of the game’s cutscenes. So if need to catch up on any material in the plot, or just want to see a favorite part again, you are more than welcome to help yourself by examining the log.
A Good Looking Game
Royal Envoy is a very pretty game. The art direction presents a colorful and whimsical world that’s overall pleasing to the eye without being even remotely taxing on your system. It’s a delight to watch your various workers mill around on the map like ants.
Music is pleasant and provides a nice ambiance, and sound effects in general work for what they do, immersing you in the world, as well as telling you when certain things are going on. There’s ample amount of voiced dialogue which has decent acting going for it, though it’s not anything to write home about.
If there is a wrinkle, it’s in the animated cutscenes. They possess the same charming aesthetic as the rest of the game, but little effort was put into proper lip-synching the dialogue. It’s not a huge issue, but it is distracting all the same.
Royal Envoy has an interesting blend of gameplay, mixing elements of puzzle games in with that of resource management, making it into something of a real-time strategy game. Each level has you setting up a village using what meager funds you have and whatever is still standing. It’s up to you to gather what you can to make that village into something truly special.
As the town planner, you’re going to be doing a lot of building. You’ll construct houses to provide rent money, and sawmills and smithies for other building materials like lumber and nails, among other things.
In addition, there are also some specialized buildings that bestow additional benefits to you in the level, such as the market where occasional deals that can net you more money will pop up. You have limited space and a finite amount of workers at your disposal, so being selective in what you want to build is a skill you’ll need to develop in order to succeed.
If that’s not enough, there is also the fact that you can upgrade buildings. Homes provide a meager amount of income, but if time and money is spent improving them, then they’ll become even more profitable.
Easy to Learn
If this all sounds like a lot to take in at once, don’t fear: Royal Envoy is much simpler than it sounds. The first few levels act as a tutorial of sorts, and the game in general does a good job at easing all of its mechanics gradually over its course. It also helps keep things from getting repetitive; just as you’re getting complacent in your play style, either a new toy or obstacle shows up and forces you to change things up!
The challenge in Royal Envoy is in working quickly enough. You’re kind of running against the clock to meet all of your objectives, and in order to get everything done, you need to know exactly when to upgrade old buildings, when to demolish others, when you should spend money, when you should save, and so on. Mind you, the game is not over when time runs out; you can still complete the objectives and advance as normal. You just won’t get as high a score as you could have. Thankfully, you can always return to completed levels and try to do better next time, or even to experiment with different styles of play.
Simple Controls That Won't Overwhelm You
Control in Royal Envoy is easy. Everything is accomplished with a mere click of your mouse key. Click on a money sign over a house, and one of your diligent tax collectors will rush over from your castle and get the money there. Click on an empty lot, and a worker will build whatever you designate there. Click on a building, and you will get the option to upgrade it, provided you can cover the costs.
Royal Envoy is never slow; you need to be constantly on the move, paying attention to everything on the screen to keep your villages operating at an optimal level. But in some ways, it’s also the game’s greatest failing. There’s no automation whatsoever, you have to manually micromanage everything. After a while, it can get pretty tiring and tough to keep up.
And though the game’s interface lets you see how much gold, lumber, nails and workers you have, it doesn’t quite tell you how much of each is required to construct or upgrade buildings until you click those options yourself. You’ll learn the prices of everything soon enough, but in a game that encourages you to work fast, it can get annoying when you lose a few precious seconds realizing that you can’t set up that cottage you want just yet.
But those issues shouldn’t get in the way of what is, overall, an interesting and fun experience. Royal Envoy is a strangely addictive and original take on both the puzzle and real-time strategy genres that can easily keep you occupied during a rainy day.
Royal Envoy's story campaign can take a few days to finish. There are over 60 levels to complete, each getting progressively more challenging. And though you can’t ever “lose,” your performance in each level is scored at the end based on how efficient you were. Do well enough, and you’ll earn Gold Stars and Trophies. These, unfortunately, have no actual bearing on the game, but if you enjoy striving for perfection, or just like trying to best yourself, then you can easily get more playtime out of Royal Envoy. It helps that the game lets you return to any level at any time, just in case you happen to miss a Gold Star.
Review by David Galvin
David Galvin is a freelance writer and avid gamer. Many suspect he would have more of vested interest in demolishing buildings than constructing them. Those people don’t know anything about him.
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