When we reviewed the original Reigns, we said it’s the combination of Tinder and Crusader Kings: you decide about crucial matters for your kingdom by swiping left or right and balance the needs of the people, military, church, and treasury. If anyone of them became too happy or unhappy, you could be murdered by your people, The Pope would make Vatican II of your kingdom, or you could eat yourself to death because you got too rich (the best way to go, frankly).
In a Tinderish turn of events, the follow-up game Her Majesty puts you in the role of a queen which faces all new challenges but still tries to balance the same groups of people. There are still ups, downs and multiple deaths. Backing the church on a decision might be bad for the people, for example, while reducing city patrols will only annoy the military, even if it shores up your coffers. You’ll be forced to make decisions you don’t agree with just to remain alive.
The biggest addition to Her Majesty is an item system. Presenting a dueling pistol or a mysterious clock at the right moment will push the story forwards in unpredictable ways. If you spray your royal perfume, you might indicate to a character you favor them, which might spark an affair. After a couple of queens die, the entity that drives the rest of the story appears. We won’t tell what it is because it’s really awesome, and the game itself is cheap, so you might as well discover it yourselves.
This game retains the dark sense of humor of its predecessor. One of the deaths that await your queen in Her Majesty is her jewel-encrusted carriage breaking under its own riches, throwing her into the sewer where she drowns. It happens when you get too wealthy. You may try not to lose your head, but it happens anyway, suddenly and often. The more objectives you complete, the more sets of cards you unlock, adding new characters and situations to enjoy.
There are differences comparing this game and the first Reigns. Your choices will be more womanly, like choosing to smile or not or what color of dress to wear. You might even end up burned at the stake for witchcraft by the revolted church. Different gender roles add a bit of variety to the feeling of ruling the empire, so this game doesn’t feel like more of the same.
There’s still a bit of wandering around when you’re trying to advance the story or unlock more cards. This is made even worse by the addition of useable items, since you’re penalized if you use them at the wrong moment. If you’re aiming to see any of the endings of the game, you’ll manage it by following the in-game hints. Nonetheless, you’ll have to rely on trial and error to uncover all possible options.
Her Majesty has a zodiac system (of course it has), but we never managed to see the significance of it in the outcome of the game. Some of the ways each group is affected by your decisions feel a bit random, too. It’s not always clear what course of action will appeal to the army, while the church is pretty much obvious with hating of witchcraft and love of building churches.
This all makes Her Majesty a very enjoyable experience, despite the fact your queens will die like ants. Similar to the Reigns, the purpose is not the outcome, but the journey, which doesn’t mean the main arc is dull, but that you should take your time and enjoy being the queen. Ordering around and pissing off cardinals will always be interesting.