Royal Envoy II excels in the lovely little details
After one and a half years, Playrix has released Royal Envoy II, sequel to arguably the best resource management game of 2010. The kingdom of Middleshire is in big trouble, and it is up to you to fix all of the problems with taxes, happiness and housing. Cedric, our friend from the first Royal Envoy game, is along for the ride this time as well, and he’s not the only familiar face you’ll meet during your journey through the highly varying landscapes of Middleshire.
Royal Envoy II features 63 levels and 30 bonus challenges which can be played as soon as the player has finished the regular game. Furthermore there are a lot of achievements to be earned, as well as ranks to be reached. Each level can be finished with a one- to a three-stars rating, and it is possible to get stuck if the timer runs out. While the game may not be exactly as long as its predecessor it will still keep you busy for 10 to 15 hours easily, not to speak of the time it will take to beat every level with 3 stars.
The basic goals and tasks in Royal Envoy II are pretty much standard fare in this genre. Different types of houses have to be built and upgraded, gardens have to be added, you need to train workers, produce resources and and increase the happiness of citizens in the different villages. Fans from the first part will feel right at home with Royal Envoy II, although some significant changes really alter the game’s general pace and direction.
Most of the buildings have remained the same as in the first part, but some of them have changed the way they work, and a new resource has been added. While houses such as villa and cottage still can be upgraded or have gardens for an increased rent, you now have to click the rent by yourself instead of sending a tax collectors to get it. In Royal Envoy II only the regular workers are there to fulfill all sorts of tasks – building, upgrading, repairing, producing resources and trading with different people such as pirates and leprechauns.
Besides the regular resources wood and gold Royal Envoy II introduces food, which can be picked from bushes, traded for gold at the markets or be produced at farms. Food is required for nearly any action – gardens only need food, any house needs food besides wood to be constructed (although upgrades still only require wood), and there are a lot of special events and tasks which require a lot of food to be finished. All in all the balance between the three resources is extraordinarily well done – every resource is equally important and often requires one of the other resources to be produced.
Also the working of banks, markets and sawmills has been simplified in Royal Envoy II. Extra rent due to banks comes automatically and does not have to be collected from there, and markets and sawmills always offer the same deals/amount of materials, and higher amounts do not have any cost advantage. Due to the introduction of a new resource the game is still as challenging and well-balanced as its predecessor, while still offering a remarkably different playing experience.
Royal Envoy II also excels in presenting a variety of challenges and very differing level designs. In some cases the game even manages to surprise you with really peculiar tasks that are very atypical for this genre, whether it being a snowball fight between your workers and another team, or maze levels where you have to work your way through a number of obstacles to reach another village or part of the country. So despite its incredible length the gaming experience remains fresh and always offers some new surprises, an achievement not many similar games manage to accomplish.
What truly sets Royal Envoy II apart from other games of the genre are all those small but lovely details integrated into the game. Whether it is the animated and beautiful map from which you access levels and the story unfolds, all kinds of animals that breathe life into each and every level, or small messages from the developer which are integrated into regular levels, it is absolutely apparent how much time and effort has been spent to create this game.
While some fans of the first part might not be too pleased with the increased complexity and challenge due to an additional resource and a quicker gameplay that is somewhat reminiscent of dash games, Royal Envoy II is nevertheless a fantastic game that will surely please a lot of players. Amazingly high production values in every important respect, highly differing challenges in each level, decent playing time and replayability definitely make the game an instant buy for fans of the genre.