February 08, 2024 by
Quite a few kingdom management games have graced the App Store, but I'm not sure any of them have felt quite as bespoke and personal as Yes, Your Grace. Where many other titles of this ilk tend to employ overlapping systems and procedural generation to create "challenge" and "replayability," the focus here is on a specific narrative and creating a linear, but multifaceted and twist-laden, experience. The good news is that this gamble pays off quite well. Yes, Your Grace is a remarkably fresh take on kingdom management and it tells a quite entertaining story along the way.
In Yes, Your Grace, you play as King Eryk, the ruler of the modest kingdom of Davern. As the ultimate ruler of the land, your job is mostly to make decisions that have an impact on your subjects while trying to balance a few key resources: funds, supplies, military strength, and contentment.
While this sounds like yet another version of something like Reigns, starting a new game of Yes, Your Grace immediately disperses that notion. After an extremely brief tutorial, players flash back a calendar year to see King Eryk playing hide-and-seek in the royal gardens with his three daughters before being summoned to court, where you begin your career in hearing requests about all manner of things--ranging from requests for loans to hunting down mystical creatures--in an effort to try and lead Davern through a particularly tumultuous year.
Beyond having a clearer focus on story (and particularly King Eryk's personal life), Yes, Your Grace also thoughtfully and purposely serves up which requests you will be hearing and what they are instead of using some degree of procedural variability. Every week of every playthrough of this game is predestined to have the same events occur, though the way you address them and your progress toward completing different milestones might shift depending on the decisions you make.
The net effect of this won't be immediately apparent, but it leads to some really impressive narrative developments that may genuinely surprise you (as they did me) and make for a super compelling experience that you can't get from other games that stay more focused on their systems. It also helps that Yes, Your Grace doesn't portray playing a monarch as simply a fun backdrop for its game design. Many moments during play call into question the value of a single anointed ruler and much of the game will put you into dilemmas that force you to make some kind of compromise that you likely wouldn't have otherwise made in order to keep your your people alive. Again, this all happens at specific times, which--in addition to not feeling like randomly timed byproducts of emergent gameplay--all play a role in shaping and pacing the story.
Gracing the small screen
Yes, Your Grace originally released on PC in March of 2020 (oof), and this iOS version feels totally competent. Aside from a few times where exiting a scene by moving to the edge of the screen took a few extra taps for some reason, the game feels right at home on mobile devices. On the App Store, the game is free-to-start, so you can try out how it feels for yourself ahead of potentially spending $4.99 to see it through to the end. I will say the free portion doesn't quite showcase the game's greatest strengths or narrative high points, but it does enough to let you figure out whether you want to see those things or not.
When it comes to games like this, Yes, Your Grace has sold me on the idea of a management game being first-and-foremost a storytelling vehicle. I would much sooner prefer to see games take this approach than see another title pile on mechanics that jumble together into a slurry that you can eventually puzzle your way through. I just hope that potential future games in this vein have the sense not to choose a tonally discordant end credits song, which is one of (very few) sour notes in this game.
The bottom line
There's a decent amount of competition seemingly offering what Yes, Your Grace does, but none of them are structured in the rigid fashion that allows for such a deliberate and intricately shaped story to take place. It's certainly a refreshing take on what can sometimes feel like a stagnant genre, but its novelty is not the only thing going for it. Yes, Your Grace goes out of its way to tell a thrilling and tense story that stays with you after you've found a way to complete it.
Mid Atlantic Consulting, Inc.
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