kiffar On June - 10 - 2010

Royal Envoy is a gorgeous looking game brought to you by the folks over at Playrix. It’s filled with flamboyant sounding characters and a king whose tights would make even Sir Elton John envious and resembles the King of Cosmos from the Katamari Damacy series. The story goes as a place called Islandshire has had a natural disaster before the rainy season starts, and the rainy season is apparently important because that’s when the inhabitants do their best craftsmanship which this king loves so much.

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The task is not to gather up resources to help rebuild or anything of that sort but basically just to watch over them, give direction to the rebuild and apparently, despite the cinematic angles during the introduction, you’re in the room and given the task of foreman though I don’t know how they tell you that the islanders will do all the work if you’re the one directing them where to go, what to build, when to improve, etc. etc. Sure they do the physical aspect but you’re still bossing them around.. when they know what? It doesn’t matter, this game is great.

The game will take you between 90 puzzles across 9 islands that vary in appearance and tasks. You’ll travel to a swampy island and have to install siding on every house you build because the foundation isn’t suitable to hold a house and they’ll break over time leaving you to sacrifice manpower and wood to fix it. How siding helps I haven’t the slightest clue, I used to do home improvements and siding isn’t the most durable thing you could use, it would make more sense to use concrete and even when you get off the swampy island and move around to islands more like the first two, you still have to install siding. Why not the buildings? Why are the houses the only one vulnerable to the horrific living conditions of nine islands closely clumped together? With that rainy season coming I’m sure they’ll thank me for their new siding, they’ll now be invincible to any force of an angry god or whatever, if anything, they worship but anyway…

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Each island is in its own scenery, there are lush forests, Egyptian style deserts, even a massive volcano. You’ll visit towns at the base of mountains carved with rivers; the game is just so colorful. You spend time on each island through a series of levels, puzzles really, the first one being to build 5 houses and to collect 1,500 gold via rent. Each island has a set number of levels for completion and trophies are earned when completing all missions with a gold star, not trophies like Sony’s version of achievements, legit trophies. You’ll also earn new ranks via the points awarded at the end of a puzzle which also turn into portraits to collect. This game mixes very slight humor, and wonderful puzzle solving in an RTS format. The problem solving will be simple to the point where it’s fun, to challenging and planning your route out before the timer starts, it strains the brain at times but once you get that golden star for finishing within the allotted time, it’s worth the extra points and trophies you can earn.

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The buildings are quite varied and each will be needed to complete some sort of task, you won’t be using every single one all the time but you’ll definitely need a couple more often than not. The one staple building that is imperative to place is a house. You need a house; they create rent which your tax collectors gather, thus increasing your income. Also, upgrading the houses will increase rent deliciously, it requires quite a bit of wood depending on the house as well as manpower but it’s well worth it.
There are five different types of housing, from a basic cabin costing a mere 75 wood to build, second house comes a cottage with 150 wood required to build. The third house is a chalet, with 300 wood and two workers required for the building process. Villas are the fourth type you get with a heavy 600 wood requirement and the last is of course a mansion, this bad boy brings in the most rent (4,000 gold at 3 stars), requires 1,200 wood and three workers to build.

Another way to increase income is by building a market; Markets will place offers from time to time and give you 3 randomized choices either 10 wood for 500, 800, or 1,000 gold. Often you’ll have mixed offers, 10 wood for 500 gold, 20 for 800 gold or 40 for 1000 gold. Keep an eye out for the best deals and make sure you’re well stocked in wood, markets become VERY useful.

A good way to make sure you’re always stocked on wood is to build a saw mill, preferably away from homes as it will decrease happiness levels. For gold, you’ll send a worker to gather some wood which is, obviously, for building and repairing and the more gold you spend, the more wood you’ll gather.

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Other buildings include a bank which will store money from rent and you can send a tax collector to withdraw the gold and bring it into your kingdom, this is very useful, especially when you have multiple houses to manage. The last building you get is probably the most useful in terms of resources, the workshop can transform smaller quantities into larger portions, 20 wood now becomes 200, 40 for 400. Also, when you demolish a building whilst a workshop is in the town, you’ll gain one half back of what the building cost was.

As the game progresses, your buildings automatically upgrade, requiring more resources/gold to build but putting out more wood than before. Banks will hold and withdraw more, workshops require more wood but put out greater quantities, sawmills will offer new bundle packs and markets will have greater prices to do business with. The best I’ve seen was 8,000 gold for 200 wood.

At a point in the game, when you finish the second island, you’ll get attacked by incredibly friendly pirates who ask that you rebuild their island as well and thus off you go. These pirates like a comfortable life so their introduction brings on a new feature, Happiness. You want to keep them happy for objection reasons, build markets and mills away from homes for peace and quiet, and give them gardens to increase happiness.

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There are times, however, when gardens aren’t enough happiness, sometimes you’ll be tasked with gaining 80, 100, 300+ happiness and that’s when the small building plots come into play. These are designed to specifically add to your happiness level, they’re small decorations that require wood and include a flowerbed which for 50 wood increases happiness by 5, a lantern for 150 wood will increase happiness by 10. Flowers will increase happiness by 20 but will cost you 450 wood, a fountain for 1,500 wood increases happiness by 50 and the very costly statue coming in at a heavy 4,500 wood and increasing happiness by 100.

Introduced in the pirate level is one other little puzzle to add to your increasingly difficult job at fixing the island, bandits. These guys will stand in the path, preventing anything from getting done, until they are paid whatever amount they demand. Some just stand there, others will create big plumes of smoke to cover half the map and paying them off will reveal either buried treasure to dig up or more building plots. Other obstacles will include a broken bridge or a pile of branches that will need to be cleared. Many times when you’re resource dry at the beginning of a mission, they’ll be what appear to be almost gravestones lying about; this is actually buried treasure and could include random numbers of gold or wood.

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This game is just beautiful; the colors are deep, rich and vast. The music is lively and perfect for the setting; the sounds are detailed from the sawing of the wood to hammering an anvil. Detail was taken into consideration when developing this game, birds fly about casting a shadow, and fishes jump from ponds, tools will shake in the workshop when a worker is banging on the anvil, the guards outside the bank will cross their halberds when your cursor hovers over. It’s a fantastically rich game; I was very surprised with the way it turned out.

The free trial is available now with the full game running at $19.99 which is well worth the money.

Matt Fitzgerald
US Correspondent

  • https://?u=kiffar kiffar

    Great review Matt! You’re so hot

  • https://?u=bax88 Alan Baxter

    Awesome review mate, game looks awesome!

  • https://?u=admin James Ireland

    Loved this game, i previewed it. Very addictive.

  • Jobi-Wan Kenobi

    Can we get it for the NDS?

  • https://?u=admin James Ireland

    Not that we know of, however it’s the type of game that may find its way onto the system.

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