With Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs - Royal Edition hopping onto PlayStation 4 next week, we got the chance to ask developer Pixelated Milk a bunch of questions about the upcoming role-playing release. We asked about the studio's inspirations, the game's sense of humour, and what makes the title stand out from the crowd.
Push Square: To start with, can you give us an overview of Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs - Royal Edition? Why's it called 'Royal Edition'?
Pixelated Milk: Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs draws inspiration from Japanese RPG classics but it also delivers a modern mix of good old adventuring and dynamic storytelling. It’s a tactical RPG, but it’s actually a game about the restoration of your kingdom, bonding with vibrant characters met during your journey, embarking on the most peculiar quests possible, and bringing back your best JRPG moments in an up-to-date, accessible style.
Why did we call the console instalment a Royal Edition? It's definitely more than just a simple conversion from PC to next-gen consoles. Royal Edition includes The Unending Grimoire DLC bringing a new game mode, visual
customization for characters, 39 character skins to unlock, new battlegrounds, and loads of new content. The game has also been re-designed for consoles in terms of UI and controls, and adjusted to fit the platform of JRPG's origin.
Where did the idea for Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs come from? What was the inspiration behind it?
It's probably not too much of a stretch to say that everyone who has ever played a video game has also felt the desire to create one themselves. In our case, a good portion of our studio grew up on PSone-era JRPGs. As such, it seemed like an obvious choice, to make a loving homage to - or poke fun at - the stuff of our childhood.
Aside from that nostalgia factor, if you examine Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs as a whole, you will likely notice the underpinning "fanboy glee" behind many of the game's core elements. We wanted to create something that was ours out of all the little things we've enjoyed throughout our RPG gaming careers, like the calendar-based gameplay of Persona, the parodic tone of Disgaea, or character interactions typical of a BioWare-style game.
Humour seems to be a big part of Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs, and it's not something we often see touted as a selling point in RPGs. Why did you want to make a more comedic game?
The reason is a bit multifaceted. We've already stated that we're fans of the Disgaea series, a series that proves that humour can work even in a genre as insular as a tactical RPG. Secondly, with Regalia, we have never aimed to reinvent the wheel - a lighter tone seemed simply more fitting for what started out as a love letter project.
That said, as humble as it was within that scope, we also wanted our game world to be slightly more substantial than just throwing rocks from afar. We wanted to create both a lighthearted mirror of other settings and a coherent setting that could stand on its own, Discworld style. Last but not least, a large percentage of contemporary games developed in our country (Poland) seem to veer towards the aesthetics of the dirty, the depressing, and the dark. In a way, you could say that it was something of a therapy for our team.
Regalia's certainly got a colourful art style. How important do you think it is for games to have an eye-catching style these days?
Very. It's certainly become easier than ever to create something on an indie level, but that same easiness tends to work as a double-edged sword. In the end, your game is but a droplet in a frantically growing sea of countless indie projects. Unless you can command attention long enough for your audience to discover your game, there's a good chance that it'll get brushed aside. From a developer's point of view, visuals often end up being the easiest tool that grabs that attention.
A lot of story-heavy RPGs now offer difficulty settings, giving everyone a chance to enjoy the game. Does Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs have anything like that?
It does, in fact. Regalia offers a separate low difficulty mode which allows the player to skip any battle present in the game. Aside from that, after some player feedback, we have also introduced a batch of optional difficulty settings that can be adjusted independently of the main difficulty level.
Why did you opt to make a tactical RPG rather than a turn based or action RPG? What do you think makes a great tactical RPG?
The tactical part was effectively a product of the game's nostalgia-fuelled origin. As a somewhat spontaneous effort, Regalia had undergone many changes and revamps throughout its development. At the beginning, though, the initial groundwork was heavily inspired by the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre, which obviously required the presence of a tactical combat system. As the game evolved, many of those prototype mechanics were either changed or scrapped altogether, but the underlying tactical component remained.
As to what makes a great tactical RPG? Well, we would say it is a largely subjective thing. However, if we were to pinpoint one crucial point of interest for a developer, it would probably be strong underlying combat mechanics.
Can you tell us about the characters in Regalia? Who are your favourites, and why?
At the heart of Regalia's cast is Kay of House Loren, our classic unlucky protagonist, and his merry entourage. Both the Loren family and the party members were designed to evoke certain immortal (J)RPG staples - not out of laziness, but as means to spoof, subvert, and, if needed, play straight the tropes that permeate the genre. After all, it would be hard to evoke the familiar atmosphere of a JRPG without at least acknowledging its signature markings.
On the topic of favourite characters, it would probably be best to quote one of our graphic artists, Sylwia: "It'd be like a parent choosing their favourite child. We won't do that to our children!"
How does the player build relationships with these characters? Are there any candidates for romance, for example?
Relationships are mostly built through spending time with characters in the player's home town. Some, like the vendors and service providers, will need upgrades to their personal dwellings along the way. All of them, however, will require the player to participate in their small if unique storylines, choose dialogue options that may or may not boost the relationship, and eventually complete their personal quests. In the case of the combat-type characters, the player may also further boost those relationships by witnessing their interactions in dungeons and voicing support for their opinions.
Understandably, the topic of romance had been brought up many times during Regalia's development, but we ultimately decided against it. We felt that it was a feature that should be done well or not at all, and that we likely wouldn't have been able to deliver it in a satisfying way. Sorry!
Outside of combat and dialogue, what else can you do in Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs? Are there any minigames or optional activities?
Well, it certainly wouldn't be a JRPG without a fishing minigame of some sort! Aside from that mandatory fishing quota, there are text-based adventures, not unlike the choose-your- own-adventure games of old, which can be found in all dungeon zones. Some of them may lead to extra money and unique loot, some of them may provoke additional battles and grant lingering positive or negative effects, and some of them may even lead to further quest follow-ups.
Can you tell us one weird fact about Regalia that we don't know?
We may like our references to be a bit too on the nose, but our hero Kay Loren is not, in fact, named after Kylo Ren. Imagine our faces when the Sith character's name from The Force Awakens was officially revealed. Awkward.
And finally, if you had to describe Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs in a single word, what would it be?
Passion! Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs may have been equal parts hard work and cruel learning experience, but it was also a labour born of love. For better or worse, we think that shines through.
Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs - Royal Edition launches on the 10th April for PS4. Are you looking forward to Regalia? Are you a big fan of JRPGs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
[ Huge thanks to the team at Pixelated Milk for taking the time to answer our questions. Special thanks to Tom Tomaszewski for making this interview possible ]