Yes, Your Grace (2020)
Developer: Brave At Night
I've been back to playing more games on my Switch which has been really nice - I do enjoy taking a break from sitting at my PC. However, this might be my Switch's "swan song" if my Steam Deck actually ends up coming soon and meeting expectations.... Just kidding, kind of. Anyway, I first added Yes, Your Grace to my wishlist over a year ago and I don't actually remember exactly what got me interested in it, but it seemed to have a charming art style and humor. Yes, Your Grace is a strategy game where you manage a medieval kingdom on the brink of war, while also taking care of your own family affairs. Yes, Your Grace is surprisingly lighthearted and silly in a story of difficult times while also challenging in its difficult, consequential choices.
You play as King Eryk, ruler of a medieval kingdom named Davern. He lives in the castle with his three daughters and wife. Every week, Eryk sits in his throne and hears the requests of petitioners who come to the castle. These petitioners will usually ask something of you, or perhaps try to sell you something. Despite running a kingdom, you don't have a whole lot of resources at the beginning - very few supplies, not a lot of gold, and a very small army.The game warns you that you won't feasible be able to accept all requests, but it's still difficult to turn citizens away especially since overall citizen happiness affects how much you receive in taxes. One day, Eryk receives a message from Beyran, king of the neighboring nation of Radovia. Beyran claims that Eryk and his wife once promised their first-born daughter's hand in marriage to him, and now that their daughter, Lorsulia, is thirteen he demands to marry her else he will declare war on Davern. Eryk sees the Radovian people are barbarians and refuses to marry his daughter off to Beyran. He decides to get help from an ally nation of Atania in order to prepare for war with Radovia, but in order to grant the assistance of their huge military power, King Talys of Atania asks for Lorsulia to be married to his son, Ivo. This is one big decision you actually don't have a choice about, so Eryk ends up agreeing to it. Much chaos, betrayal, and war ensues in which you're given several opportunities to make choices about how to respond.
I was pretty impressed with Yes, Your Grace's pixel art style, especially in environments. It has a more minimal style that pixel games I've played recently, and it reminds me more of games like The Way. My only complaint is that for 90% of the game, half your screen is taken up by the menu panel with your resources and items. Sure, it's important to be able to access this quickly to check on your resources and make assignments for the day, but it would've been so simple to just assign one button to opening and closing this menu, making you be able to take it off the screen. I get this was probably in order to have an easier time drawing full environments, but I still think it would've been a nice little plus. However, the few scenes that didn't have this menu panel in the way really stood out beautifully and took advantage of the full screen. I was also surprised how much I enjoyed the music in this game. It was pretty relaxing and catchy throughout the game, then the music for important scenes would come in and shake everything up. I love a cool sounding celtic rock song and I think the music was great at communicating the heavier parts of the story.
Yes, Your Grace isn't at all like the games I usually play. Sure, it's a pixel-style indie game, but I don't play any kingdom management games and I tend to stay away from medieval games as they can feel very same-y. Once I picked this game up, I suddenly realized this was very new to me. However, I think it does an excellent job of teaching you how to play and not overwhelming you. It doesn't introduce mechanics like sending agents somewhere on the map and sending invitations to allies until you've learned some introductory things first. Early on, I made some ambitious choices and ended up running out of money. I thought it would just put me in debt, but instead it was actually game over. Thankfully, you can pick up from any auto-save of a prior week and start over. After I ran out of gold once, I was much more cautious and was able to go the whole game without a game over. The game always tells you how many weeks you have until the next big event to prepare for - such as war, or a wedding - so that you know how to best conserve resources. Also, once you have invested resources in solid sources of income, you'll bring in more each week and be able to have a constant rhythm. The part I actually struggled with the most was assigning my "agents" - there's a general, a witch, and hunter. Petitioners will often request their help, and when you send them off they can be gone from one week to three. It's really unfortunate when you just sent one of them off and someone else comes with a bigger request and they require the same agent. I wish the game would've done a little better at varying the requests each week so the same person wasn't always being needed, but overall it was still doable.
Yes, Your Grace has a lot of charm because of its characters. King Eryk has three daughters - they're all very different from one another and are often getting into trouble or teasing each other. Lorsulia, the oldest, is the one who ends up getting married off to Ivo of Atania. She's, of course, furious at you for this decision, but once she moves to his castle she continues to write you letters and keep you updated on her life, even as matters grow tense. Asalia, the middle child, is a troublemaker who especially like to play tricks on Lorsulia. She's fiery, bold, and she's very interested in learning to use a sword - you can choose to assist her with this or not. Then there's the youngest, Cedani. She's adorable but a real handful. Once Lorsulia leaves and takes her cat Dusty with her, Cedani starts bringing random animals home to be her "agents". She's clearly upset by her sister's leave, but you as her father can choose to forbid her from having these wild animals around or just keep an eye on her while she continues to do her thing. There was never a dull moment with these three girls. They bring a lot of humor to the game, and as their father, I found it very hard to say no to anything they asked. A big plot point is how King Eryk does not have a "successor" to the throne, so he and his wife must continue trying to have kids so that they can have a son. Sure, I get this is a medieval story, but at the same time I found this so silly when the game had surprisingly progressive ideas expressed in other places. One of your daughters turns out to be gay and is actually open with you about it, and yet the ideals in this society are so misogynistic that your daughters can't be successors to the throne? It's especially confusing when you consider that some of the other kingdom allies you sent requests to were women, which leads me to think that some other kingdoms actually are led by a queen instead of a king. Anyway, I'll let this go for the fact that the characters in this game are excellent and made me do the unexpected - relate to and feel invested in a royal family. Yes, Your Grace also actually allows you to make real choices that affect your whole game, not just the ending. I'm happy with most of the choices I made but I do think it would be a great game to replay just to do things a differently and see the effect.
Yes, Your Grace was such a sweet, funny, and thought-provoking game. It posed some extremely difficult ethical choices that I had to consider within the scope of keeping my kingdom afloat and also keeping my family happy. I recommend it even if you're new to management or strategy games, as it has a great tutorial and introduction to its mechanics. I don't think it's too challenging as long as you are prepared to make some tough decisions. It can be repetitive from week to week, but for the most parts there's always new story bits to keep it interesting. It had surprisingly emotional moments and was incredibly reactive to your choices, which I think can make each repeating playthrough feel like a slightly different story.
Yes, Your Grace is available on PC, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox One Series X|S
Played on: Switch
Playtime: 12 hrs