Regency Love is a game set in the era of the British Regency, the period of time that most know as the setting of Jane Austen’s famous novels, such as Pride and Prejudice. Despite a variety of flaws, Regency Love is, as the name suggests, an easy game to, well, love.
Upon starting a new game, players are dropped into an oddly-drawn town with a variety of interesting people. To clarify, it’s not a poorly-drawn game; it’s simply that the art style doesn’t remain consistent, which can be a bit confusing. Mary, one of the protagonist’s best friends, is drawn almost as though she were a portrait of a real person, while Mr. Digby looks as though he might be more at home in Neil Gaiman’s Coraline – his eyes are button-sized and completely black, with no apparent sclera. It ends up being jarring on occasion, though once I got used to it, it wasn’t a particularly big deal.
The best part of Regency Love is its characters. Players move from engagement to engagement, the mostly free-form narrative allowing players to choose when they’d like to participate in something, or even to decide if they’d rather not visit someone at all (though some visits are necessary to move chunks of the plot along). I, for example, wholeheartedly avoided Mr. Digby. It wasn’t that Digby was bad. To employ the kind of diplomacy I had in-game: Mr. Digby, while not a bad man, is simply…well, he couldn’t find an intelligent conversation if it trumpeted its arrival and paraded through his head. Every character, however, is interesting in their own right. For all his faults, Digby is interesting both in how he very clearly has strong feelings for the protagonist, and also for his apparent relation to Mrs. Norris, the town gossip. Each character feels very genuine, and I found myself laughing at the various interactions between my character and the NPCs.
Naturally, as a female character in the Regency era, the only real thing that I had to do was find a husband, and of course, learn a bunch of skills to make me a more interesting potential suitor. I am not afraid to tell you that I have never fended off the advances of so many men before. I was also never afraid to take the more obviously liberal (and, just as obviously, the more likely not to be voiced) dialogue options, and did my level best not to simply fall into a marriage. To this end, I actually tried to pursue a female character, though I knew it was probably futile. Still, it made for an interesting time in the game.
Play largely centers around mini-games and tapping through dialogue. To choose a social engagement, players enter the world map and find a lit-up location. From there, they choose which engagement to grace with their presence. Besides actual social events, there is a small suite of trivia which the game gives players in order to award them “Motivation Points,” which are essentially stat points. Instead of Strength and Charisma, however, players can spend these points in such thrilling and adventurous categories as “Needlework” and “Riding.” Jokes aside, the only real problem I had with the system is how pointless the Motivation Points were. I earned them constantly, until I was basically drowning in them, and the trivia is nearly impossible to fail; if a player is patient, the hint button at the bottom will eliminate all of the wrong answers. For Jane Austen fans, the trivia is no doubt a bit more interesting, but unfortunately, I saw the same questions often enough that even I knew the answer instantly.
Surprisingly though, this never felt tedious. It was simply a brief interruption from the extremely enjoyable lives of the people of Darlington. Naturally, I am not the target audience of Regency Love, but that didn’t stop me from having a good time with it. Many of the little parts of the game are repetitive and simple, but the characters are interesting enough that it kept my attention even as I played hangman to finish the same quote for a fifth time in an hour.
Regency Love is out now for iOS devices (no port incoming for Android or Windows Phones, unfortunately), and more can be seen of the game from its website, and more from its developer, Tea for Three, can be seen on their site. The game is $4.99 USD, though with a slightly adaptive story and plenty to do, I would say those five dollars would go a long way. So if either the Regency Era or flirting with men of questionable honor is your cup of tea, you will probably enjoy Regency Love.