22 February 2024

Indie Corner Games

Indie Corner Games a page entirely dedicated to Indie Titles.

Swipe left or right? – Reigns: Three Kingdoms

Reign: Three Kingdoms presents interesting ideas but that fail in the long term, making it a repetitive game.

The emergence of table-top titles in the past has set the stage for the introduction of new genres closely tied to the straightforward approach of navigating complex narratives with simpler game mechanics. “Reign: Three Kingdoms” explores two distinct experiential moments: decision-making through a mouse swipe and card-based combat.

Surprisingly to me, upon closer investigation, I found that the “Reigns” series already boasts several successful titles. From magical realms with royal protagonists to text-based narratives set in the Game of Thrones universe, the series offers diverse experiences.

Reign: Three Kingdoms primarily delves into the tumultuous final years of the Han dynasty, drawing inspiration from “Romance of the Three Kingdoms.” Players can expect to encounter various factions, wars, and heroes within this compelling saga. This will be the main background in the narrative, which also has another initial layer that frames the player in a futuristic perspective that will go hand in hand with the past.

The player assumes the role of a pawn in a group of historians seeking to perfect a simulation allowing time travel, in a premise similar to Animus, from Assassin’s Creed. From the moment you enter this simulation, the player will step into the shoes of a distant family member of a character, with various tasks and relationships that he will have to control, as head of the family and with the aim of becoming the main ruler of the Han empire. The game itself will occasionally point to the next story branch, which allows you to discover new areas, but the player will have full control of its events.

Decision-making involves a simple swipe left or right, with no definitive right or wrong answers. However, it is important to understand the outcome that choice will bring to the future of the story, as each choice will impact the satisfaction bars present at the top of the screen. The essential thing will be to maintain the balance between the satisfaction of the people the player rule, the military group, or for example food. Everything seems simple until the moment one of these bars is completely filled or, on the contrary, all the points are removed. If this happens, the outcome will be the character’s death. However, it won’t be too much of a penalty, since restarting places the player in the shoes of a distant relative.

As negative points of these mechanics, the choices gradually lose impact on the narrative, and most of the times I found myself just choosing an option just to advance a bit more. Another negative point will be that the choice made in the same situation will never change its outcome. In other words, it will always impact the same satisfaction bars. Memorizing the cards will eliminate the feeling of unpredictability. Perhaps the inclusion of difficulty levels or a roguelike mode, where upon death there was the choice of continuing the story with the loss of a card from the deck, or starting the story over from scratch.

The lines of text are based on random encounters between people in the village, guards, or more important people such as key individuals in clans or even royalty who can join the group, forming the deck available for combat sporadic encounters.

The other aspect of this title is the incorporation of combat moments with cards. This was without a doubt the part I had the most fun with during my time in Three Kingdoms. The problem is that these moments don’t happen very often. As previously mentioned, these cards are acquired during the story, where certain characters accept to join the group, making it possible to create a robust deck for confrontations against enemies. Each card has a specific ability, which can be divided into attack or defense. The combat system works with the possibility of having up to 4 cards in play with 3 action points to attack the enemy. The player will therefore have to turn left or right depending on the card he wants to use next. By combining the abilities of different cards, it is possible to create very interesting combos. The main objective will be to apply damage to the enemy’s main core and to get there, you will first have to apply damage to the cards that are defending.

In addition to the Story mode, a Multiplayer Mode offers players the chance to test their decks against others. Regrettably, my attempts to find online games were unsuccessful.

Reign: Three Kingdoms presents interesting ideas but that fail in the long term, making it a repetitive game. Unfortunately, combat moments are quite scarce, which could help fight their repetitiveness. Still, its entire graphic appearance is quite peculiar and captivating to the eye.