It's only bit a little over a year since the excellent Reigns first appeared on the App Store and surprised everyone with its Tinder-like gameplay. Only a few games have tried to emulate the formula since then, but now a proper sequel has arrived. Reigns: Her Majesty takes all of the goofy fun from the first game and turns it up to 11, which is mostly a good thing.
Long live the queen
If you played the original Reigns, the concept and swipe-based gameplay in Her Majesty should feel completely familiar. You play as a member of royalty while advisors, patrons, and others approach you and present you with a choice. From there, you can swipe either right or left to make your choice before moving on to the next decision you have to make.
The most obvious difference between Reigns and Her Majesty is that this time, you're playing from a female perspective. This means you rule over people in tandem with a king, make decisions around the way you dress, and even have children. While some of these choices are a departure from the first game, most of the same oddball humor and clever writing is kept intact here.
Shuffling it up
Just like in the first Reigns, your decisions can impact one of four different aspects of your kingdom-the church, the people, the military, and the bank. The key to staying alive and well as a ruler is to carefully balance your decisions so that none of these individual entities gets too strong or weak.
To shake things up a bit though, Her Majesty is full of quests and puzzles that give a lot more dimension to the basic, swipe-based gameplay. Instead of trying to simply rule for as long as possible or trigger a specific event, Her Majesty has items you can store and use between runs, a combat system, and even a good old-fashioned maze to figure out if you're so inclined.
Her Majesty does its darndest to up the ante from the first Reigns, but not all of it feels welcome. A lot of this has to do with the fact that some of Her Majesty's more robust elements require you to effectively manage a kingdom for quite a few turns before you can even see them, which is easier said than done. Getting to certain puzzles or events can feel like a hassle, which makes it all the more frustrating if you mess them up and have to work your way through several reigns to get back to them again.
The other thing to note about Her Majesty is that-despite all of the stuff it tacks onto the base gameplay of the first game-the whole thing still feels an awful lot like Reigns. This isn't a bad thing by any means. Reigns is a fantastic game, but Her Majesty's additions to the formula don't make it feel as fresh and exciting as it was when its concept was new.
The bottom line
Her Majesty adds a lot of neat layers to the Reigns formula, but its core is still very much the same. As a result, I'm not sure how much Her Majesty might attract new players to the series. That said, Her Majesty has a lot of offer if you're simply looking for a more fleshed out version of Reigns.