iPad Game Review: Royal Envoy HD Reviewed by Guy Dayen
Playrix enters the fray of time/resource management games with a stellar example of the genre in Royal Envoy HD. The granddaddy in the genre, Build-A-Lot (and its sequels) inspired a new genre of game where players must not only manage time to accomplish a certain point total (a la Diner Dash and its many, many imitators), but also complete a series of tasks and use resources strategically in order to achieve the stated objectives for each level. Royal Envoy HD "builds" upon this game by adding to it a large helping of My Kingdom for the Princess, which was closely akin to Build-A-Lot, but added a more complex story element to the original gameplay.
Royal Envoy HD goes one better by expanding on the story element, adding more varied characters and a much richer story-line. Cut scenes come into play between the various levels of the game, expanding upon the narrative that develops as players work through each stage. It's a great game, with lots of content and enough variation to keep gamers interested throughout. Clearly, Playrix lavished much attention on the game, and the results are excellent. This is an accomplished, quality game.
In Royal Envoy HD, you are tasked by your king to visit various and sundry islands in the kingdom of Islandshire, and build, demolish or upgrade homes of various types, in order to keep the island citizens happy. You can also add to a house by providing a garden, or build a statue to beautify a space and increase your citizens? happiness. Along the way, you?ll encounter pirates and have to pay them tribute so they won?t obstruct your efforts, you?ll search for treasure, you?ll make deals to sell resources and build up your cash reserves in the bank. You?ll even involve yourself with a hot-air balloon! On each island, you will have to marshal your resources, manage workers and tax collectors, all the while keeping an eye on the clock in order to achieve ever more complex tasks in the time allotted.
Prioritizing your tasks and using your resources wisely are a must in order to be successful. As well, strategy comes into play when you decide where to locate elements such as sawmills, markets and banks. They are necessary elements for the islands, but the islanders don?t like it when such a building is too close to their dwelling, and their happiness score goes down. It?s up to you to decide where and when to build, but also when it is time to get rid of certain buildings in order to get the score you need to achieve the desired three stars on each level.
There are nine islands and more than sixty levels in Royal Envoy HD. Once the game is completed in normal mode, the expert mode is unlocked. It allows you to replay the game, but with less time afforded to you to accomplish your goals. Again, the goal is to collect three stars at each level; something that is not easy to do. Along the way, there are many Game Center Achievements to earn. There is certainly enough to do in Royal Envoy HD to keep you busy for a good, long time. We?ve been playing the game at my house on and off for over two weeks, and we?re just now getting to the end. It?s very addictive, because you want to achieve those three gold stars, and it has sometimes been difficult to stop playing. There were a LOT of late nights. It was the old ?Just one more level? syndrome at work. You?ll be getting your money?s worth with this great effort from Playrix. The game is well thought-out and very entertaining.
The graphic design is reminiscent of Build-A-Lot and My Kingdom for the Princess. It?s to be expected since they provided so much inspiration for Royal Envoy HD. Still, this is no pale copy. The islands are beautifully detailed, the characters are nicely done, and the cut scenes look great. The animation is very smooth during game play. I didn?t notice any lag at all, even though there?s a lot happening on screen at the same time. The Playrix designers evidently spent time building a rich and varied environment, with a fun atmosphere. It makes the game nice to look at as well as fun to play.
The sound design of Royal Envoy HD is on the simple side, but it is well-done. There is pleasant background music in the game, and there are plenty of sound effects as things get built or demolished, and workers respond to your instructions. There is enough variety in the sounds that they won?t grate on your nerves after playing for a couple of hours (And you will... you will...) You can?t play your own music during the game, but you don?t have time to listen; it would be too distracting. Listen to your tunes later - as you play through, you?ve got way too much to do if you want to have any kind of a decent round!
This is a great game. It?s really fun to play, it?s challenging and it is addictive. It will appeal to both sexes (my wife has been playing this extensively, and loves it) and to all age ranges. Younger children might find the game too difficult, since there are many elements to keep track of, but older kids will be fine, and adults of all ages will have a blast playing. The many achievements to collect and the possibility of replaying at the expert level make for a game with lots of content and replay value. It?s a great addition to anyone?s collection of iPad game, and I think it will be a favorite for many people. I recommend it highly, and I hope that Playrix will come back with a follow-up soon.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5): 5
Graphics: - 5 - The islands have great details, the houses and characters are very whimsical, and the animation is silky smooth. Sound: - 4 - Pleasing and varied sound design, a good effort. Controls: - 5 - The controls are very responsive, which is essential in a time management game such as this one. Excellent work by Playrix designers here. Gameplay: - 5 - The game is addictive and really fun to play. Anyone who likes time and management resource games will be very happy with Royal Envoy HD.
Playing Hints and Tips:
- Be careful of the deals you are offered in the market place. If you go too fast, you?ll make a bad deal. Take a second to look at the offer before you click. - It?s sometimes necessary to make a citizen unhappy by building a saw mill, a bank or a market too close to their house. Sometimes, you can better the happiness score by adding a garden or a statue, or you can wait and demolish a building after its purpose has been accomplished. The trick is to decide where to put a building, and when to demolish it if you need to do that. - Prioritize your tasks and do make sure to hire enough workers and tax collectors. It? s easy to fail a level because you?re being too stingy with money.