App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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Reignsplaces players on the throne of a kingdom and asks them to make all of the decisions. Conceptually, it's not too unlike PC and iOS classic King of Dragon Pass, except for one thing: The entire course of the game takes place using cards that you swipe --Tinder style -- to the right or left to make all of your decisions. This simple concept ends up having a surprising amount of depth thanks mostly to clever writing, card variety, and carefully honed balance.
The king is dead
When you first take over your kingdom in Reigns, it's likely that you'll die a lot. Aside from explaining the bare bones of how to swipe, Reignsleaves you to experiment and find out that ruling a kingdom isn't quite as easy as it seems.
To help keep tabs on how well you're doing, there are four metered icons that represent the church, people, military, and economy at the top of the screen. These meters rise and fall in response to many of the decisions you make, forcing you to try and maintain a sense of balance. If you completely fill or deplete any given meter, it is very likely that your rule to come to a quick end.
Long live the king
The object of Reigns is generally to rule for as long as possible without meeting your end. After making decisions for your kingdom, time advances in one year increments. Upon your death, your rule is summed up on a timeline, and your king is generally given a nickname that reflects an aspect of their reign.
Beyond merely surviving, Reignsalso provides lots of side objectives that help provide a little more direction in the game. On top of this, pursuing these goals usually unlocks additional cards for your king to swipe through, many of which are increasingly strange and generally unrelated to ruling a kingdom.
Fit for a king
The true test of Reignsis in how long its novelty lasts. Luckily, Reignsoffers up a satisfying amount of content and attention to detail to keep repeat sessions generally enjoyable.
Part of this has to do with the inclusion of power ups that your king can earn for his kingdom, which can span multiple reigns. So even if you run across some of the same cards you've encountered in a previous session, these power ups could alter the way you want to address them. There are also items you can unlock that have temporary effects, like the mushroom, which causes you to start hallucinating. The combination possibilities of these items are astounding and absurd, making it fun to see how crazy of a reign you can have.
Beyond that, the sheer amount of cards to unlock and the nice, streamlined presentation of Reignsmeans there's almost always something to look forward to when opening up the app.
The bottom line
Reignsis a ton of fun packed into an ultra-streamlined package, and it's just so goofy and charming that it's hard to put down.