July 6, 2015 12:00 PM | John Bridgman
I have been an unabashed fan of card games of all sorts for years. Collectible, non-collectible, traditional, generally speaking if it is based on cards, I'm going to sink time into it. This enjoyment has expanded of course into the digital world where new ways to manipulate and play cards in a virtual space has allowed for the format to develop and evolve further. Even solitaire games have been able to get into the virtual fold, allowing deck manipulation and layout changes without much effort. Grey Alien Games' recent release on Steam of Regency Solitaire has of late captured my attention with its art and storytelling, as well as simple but endearing solitaire card gaming.
You might be surprised to find storytelling as a factor in a solitaire game. I certainly was. But Regency Solitaire has a background story arc about helping guide a young debutante named Bella as she avoids marrying an arranged suitor, Mr. Bleakley and catching the fancy of the man she truly loves, despite her brother's frivolous squandering of her family's finances. Your time in Regency England takes you around the country to various locations such as London and Bath as you mingle through high society and become known in various circles, all the while avoiding Bleakley's advances. It is a charming backdrop for the game and I found myself honestly enjoying the story.
Of course this is accompanied by some very lovely artwork. The backgrounds of each location you visit are beautifully illustrated without being too busy. They set the tone nicely and as a little bonus you can choose to set the backgrounds of each level you complete as your desktop background if you so choose. In addition you can purchase upgrades and decorate Bella's own ballroom and costume, which then can also be used as a background if that appeals to you. The artistic style of course carries over to the card faces, all of which showcase the cast of characters you meet through the story.
The game has delightful chamber music to accompany the aesthetic. These upbeat songs in the background evoke the same feel that the game focuses its visuals and story around - bustling ballrooms and quaint picnics in quiet English countrysides. It is pleasant to listen to and the pastoral feel definitely works well in keeping you invested in the card game itself.
As for how it plays, it's a simple form of solitaire where you collect cards either of ascending or descending value from the tableau to your playable stack. You receive coins as you clear rows from the tableau and you use this money to buy customizations and upgrades to your ballroom. These upgrades also have in-game benefits, such as letting you reshuffle the tableau and stack, or giving you extra chances to undo mistaken moves. You also unlock different wild cards as you go, which allow you to keep combos going longer. The longer your combo of cards removed is, the higher your score multiplier. It really is about as engaging and fun as you could ask for a solitaire game.
In its own way, Regency Solitaire is a fun combination of some interesting genres. With its visual novel story and its upgrade system, it manages to keep your attention far longer than you might expect from a simple solitaire game. If you like traditional solitaire games, this is probably going to be right up your alley. Also if you want a charming visual novel story, you'll want to give this a look. The game is wonderfully endearing and I think a lot of people will be surprised if they give it a chance.