When I spotted the developer of Regency Solitaire – Grey Alien Games – asking if people wanted to have a go at their new take on the office diversion favourite I figured that it was worth a punt. What was the worst that could happen? I could spend a few hours playing Solitaire – this time with a Regency period theme – and then I could come on here and write up some prose about how it passed the time pleasantly.
But I won’t be doing that.
Because Regency Solitaire is more than just *another* solitaire title.
Regency Solitaire is the most engaging version of solitaire I’ve ever played.
AND it has a plot!
Yes. A plot.
And no this isn’t a ‘plot’ like Street Fighter 2 attempted to convince us existed. This is a fully-featured storyline set against the enthralling backdrop of the regency period. You play the game as a young lady named Bella and she has seen her family lose her fortune as her feckless brother has gambled away the lot. As a result it is looking increasingly likely that she will be married off to the repugnant Mr Bleakley. But Bella doesn’t want this, and we certainly don’t, so it’s up to us as the player to win lots of games of Solitaire (the one up, one down variety) and gather various items of decoration, clothing and accessories to replenish the household as well as gaining in-game power ups and perks.
It is a splendid set up that could only have been expected from the developer of the equally impressive Fairway Solitaire. Grey Alien games may not be a big name in the gaming sphere, but I heartily recommend checking out both of these titles. Regency Solitaire shouldn’t appeal to me on any level really, and yet with it’s steady increase in difficulty; pushed forward by requirements that must be met on each block of games, it managed to become a game with a direction.
The reason most of us know how to play Solitaire or Free Cell is that we were bored and looking for a brief distraction from everything else. Regency Solitaire knows it is a solitaire game, but is also manages to be a ‘game’ in it’s own right. The solitaire segments almost feel like the mini-game to the interactive narrative and item management.
It also doesn’t surprise me that this game is garnering attention from some pretty hefty names in gaming journalism, not least the venerable Leigh Alexander, as it is a breath of fresh air in a time where many will simply chuck out some 69p iOS app, a Crapp as I call them, filled with ads and no invention. There is nothing crapp about Regency Solitaire. I am half way through the story at the point of writing this review and while it keeps making my partner raise an eyebrow everytime she sees me leaning on the back of my hand and reading the next chapter of Belle’s journey to happiness it doesn’t worry me at all.
This is not a ‘game for girls’.
See one of the more salient results of the awful Gamergate movement is that people started to point out that while many would like to assume that there are gender specific titles, the truth is that games – just like toys, clothes and other supposed gender-defining items – are in no way a defining quantity. So the game is a casual game set against a plot that wouldn’t seem too far removed from a Jane Austen novel? So what? Does that mean that I can’t enjoy Austen either? While my peers were drooling over Colin Firth, I had a crush on Jennifer Ehle. So, yeah. No gender specifics needed when it comes to Pride and Prejudice, just as with the grubby antics of Mellers (as played by Sean Bean in the seminal ITV adaptation of D.H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover). There was the bit of rough for one crowd, and the posh totty for others. On both sides.
So, while some may sneer at the idea of a card game set against such a romantic backdrop, I genuinely found it charming. There is a three star system that rewards a ‘perfect game’ and the choice of what items you purchase and use also has an element of control and choice.
So yes, it may be just solitaire with corsets, pompf and ceremony. But for me it is the sort of casual game that I will happily stop working on my accounts to play. Better still it’s family friendly, cerebral and doesn’t patronise the player. This is something we should all expect from our games, and I say huzzah to Grey Alien for putting out such a quirky and enjoyable little title.
Regency Solitaire was reviewed on the Falcon using a review code provided by the developer.
It is available on Steam – and elsewhere too – for around £6.99.