Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
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Regency Love is a choose-your-own adventure game set in Regency-era England (think Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice). Players assume the role of a young lady in the rural town of Darlington as she interacts with other residents. Most of the gameplay revolves around player choice - specifically when it comes to the courtly advances of suitors - and the writing is so polished, detailed, and appropriately ambiguous that navigating this simpler time actually feels extremely complex and challenging in a very satisfying way.
Everyone should know that Regency Love is almost completely dialogue-based; making it more of an interactive story than a traditional game. That being said, the level of nuance in the dialogue choices, as well as the extremely light rpg elements and mini-games sprinkled throughout, keep Regency Love from just feeling like an animated book. With branching story lines and multiple endings, it feels a bit like a long string of dialogue sequences from games like Mass Effect and The Walking Dead, but with petticoats and top hats instead of aliens and zombies.
While that may sound a bit boring by comparison, Regency Love shines in its writing by striking an excellent balance of language, choice, and mystery. Like a Jane Austen novel, it captures a period in time where propriety and decorum ruled the way people interacted with one another and made determining one's true intentions rather hazy. Unlike an Austen novel though, it offers a more digestible sentence structure while also keeping every choice meaningful (note: this is undermined a little by the ability for players to rewind conversations, but not so much as to trivialize the whole experience).
As a result of this balance I found myself rather surprised at the ending I received on my initial playthrough, which is more than I can say for many games that try to create player agency through choices. Not every dialogue choice overtly reads as the "witty" response or the "compassionate" one, and some responses that would work well when speaking to one person would not necessarily go over well with another. This may read negatively for players that wish to know precisely the path they wish to walk, but I found the ambiguity a refreshing change of pace; and practically necessary for a game that is nearly 100% choices.
The worst thing I can say about Regency Love is that the parts of the game that are particularly "gamey" seem a little tacked-on. In particular, the way players level up their character's ability by playing trivia and hangman to earn "motivation" to increase levels creates some artificial "grindy-ness" to the experience that didn't seem necessary.
Overall though, I really enjoyed my time with Regency Love and was satisfied despite not quite getting the ending I was hoping for. Sure, its not really a "game" in the traditional sense, but that works in its favor more often than it doesn't.