15 games where you play as royalty
A common theme in video games revolves around royalty and nobility. It is a motif that appears in almost every fantasy or medieval setting, where magn...
A common theme in video games revolves around royalty and nobility. It is a motif that appears in almost every fantasy or medieval setting, where magnificent and imposing castles exist. However, fictional settings allow us to escape the imperial tendencies of real royal households, making it perhaps more enjoyable to have some fun with it.
Kingship can be found in all forms of media, and games are no exception. However, typically, you are not the noble yourself but rather work your way up from the bottom, instead of possessing everything from the beginning. Nevertheless, some games choose to grant you that position and power right from the start, doing so in various unique ways.
Updated on August 31, 2023, by Hilton Webster: Kingship is a dreadful affair. In the past, it has sparked revolutions. It simply does not need to exist, regardless of how much "tourism" it generates. Games, on the other hand, are all an assemblage of fiction, so let us seek games that beautifully present imaginative notions of divine right to rule.
15 Prince Of Persia
It is rather amusing to contemplate the Prince of Persia series. It has faded into the background as it was replaced by Assassin's Creed. The prince himself was always portrayed as a vaguely Caucasian man, and the original game was marked by profound sexism. It bears very little resemblance to the actual Persia.
The Lost Crown introduces us to a brand new protagonist to play as, although it is not actually the prince. The series as a whole carries a lot of heavy baggage despite the immense influence it had on gameplay mechanics, and future games face a demanding task ahead.
14 Xenoblade Chronicles
When it comes to Xenoblade Chronicles, one likely thinks of vast worlds, epic stories, and profound philosophical discussions about humanity. However, perhaps for Masahiro Sakurai, it's also about Pyra and Mythra's feet. Regardless of who one is, kingship is probably among the last associations that come to mind.
Our beloved Melia is actually the future queen of the High Entia, an easily forgotten fact when she's attacking her enemies with dropkicks. Melia defies many typical portrayals of kingship by fearlessly getting her hands dirty, all while navigating the deeply ingrained prejudices of her people and the royalty she embodies.
13 Yes, Your Grace
Yes, Your Grace is a game that strongly resembles the style of Reigns. You play as the king of the kingdom of Davern and must carefully manage the needs of your people, balancing what is just with what is practical. In many ways, it ultimately comes down to your own preservation, but the threat of monsters is very real.
The people who visit your court are an unforgettable bunch, many of whom have their own intricacies and stories that unfold throughout the game. Securing alliances with other nations is just as important as supporting your own people if you hope to survive the threats at your doorstep.
Supergiant is an unparalleled development team. Throughout its history, it has released only four games, yet each one of them is a testament to what games can achieve, even from such small teams. Hades has propelled the developers to incredible popularity, which is not surprising considering the characters involved.
The first game that somewhat aligns with reality is Hades, set in the Greek underworld, where you play as Prince Zagreus, son of Lord Hades. In truth, Zagreus doesn't fit many definitions of kingship and is more of a rebellious child against his parents. Okay, it's a parent who happens to be the ruler of the underworld and interferes in the affairs of the Greek pantheon, but perhaps that's what princes rebel against for fun?
11 Odin Sphere
Vanillaware has now become a renowned developer, following the success of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. However, prior to that, they had released many fantastic games that mostly flew under the radar. One of the first games they ever developed (and received a remake) was Odin Sphere. In contrast to the 3D games of that era, Odin Sphere is entirely presented in 2D, resembling a theatrical production.
The game is narrated through a character named Alice, who reads old books she has found. Each book tells the story of a character, many of whom are kings and queens. The stories intertwine, and there are enough political intrigues mixed with Norse mythology to satisfy any enthusiast. The remake even slightly expands on these stories.
10 Fire Emblem
Yes, that's true, we basically mean the entire Fire Emblem series. In fact, Byleth from Three Houses and Ike from Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn are the only exceptions. But Marth, Chrom, Corrin, Roy, and many others? All of them are kings or queens. Granted, it's rare that you actually assume the highest rank, whether it's as a king or in a similar position, but rather as a prince, heir to the throne, and so on.
Sometimes the title may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things and simply fit thematically. However, at times, it can be precisely that position that makes it meaningful, as it allows you to keep your soldiers alive due to your status. It varies from game to game, but you can be certain that you will almost always be someone of influence.
Originally released in 2015, Kingdom is a 2D side-scrolling game where you play as a king or queen and build your kingdom during the day, only to defend it from evil creatures at night. It functions almost like a tower defense game, allowing you to construct various defense structures on the left and right sides to keep your center and kingdom safe.
It was continued with Kingdom: Two Crowns. Here, a king and queen can play together in co-op mode and defend their kingdom in various cultures and environments. It is crucial to be regal here. It is your responsibility to protect your people, and it is your fault if they fail.
8 Fable 3
The Fable series has a long and interesting history. From its beginnings with the original Fable in 2004 to the latest reboot, Fable has gone through different time periods and settings, although Fable 3 is the only one in which kingship plays a central role in the gameplay experience.
Starting as a prince or princess of Albion, you are banished for opposing your brother, the king, and must incite a revolution against him. Although about half of the game is spent this way, your influence as royalty instills faith in the people for your uprising. Upon ascending the throne, you have the opportunity to make dramatic decisions for the kingdom and present yourself as a comically evil or righteous monarch, according to your own pleasure.
7 Final Fantasy 15
The Final Fantasy series has had its fair share of royals and nobles throughout its long history, but Final Fantasy 15 offers a somewhat unique perspective on this position. As it takes place in the modern era, where kingship is more symbolic, the lineage of Lucis literally has the divine right to rule and are the only ones capable of warding off the darkness.
However, Noctis is somewhat of an absent monarch. He starts as a prince but soon becomes a king and is separated from his kingdom for the majority of the game. Instead, he embarks on a journey with his friends before ultimately making the ultimate sacrifice for his people. It is an emotional journey, despite occasional rough writing, but it holds onto the belief that a monarch should serve their people until death.
6 Crusader Kings
The name actually says it all. Crusader Kings 2 has given the series a certain identity with its comprehensive depiction of expansive European kingdoms and their ever-changing borders, where each individual can dramatically influence your rule if not handled properly. It is intimidating but extremely rewarding.
However, that doesn't mean you are automatically of royal descent, but for most players, that will always be the goal. The pursuit of the highest position and acquiring as much land as possible until your kingdom is on the verge of bursting. Crusader Kings 3 goes even further by giving each character a clearer personality and more incentives to overthrow you.
In the past, it has often been said that many dating websites, especially ones like Tinder, can be used almost like a game. You quickly glance at some trivial information and a picture before moving on to the next. It's fast, easy, and seemingly endless. So Reigns has decided, why not actually turn it into a game?
Reigns is essentially like Tinder, but instead of swiping left or right, you balance four pillars of your reign to ensure that none of them becomes too high or too low, as that would promptly end your rule. But once you end, it quickly moves on to the next monarch, and the next, and the next.
Fictional settings often tend to exaggerate and portray kingdoms in a way that is far removed from their actual existence. Civilizations do the same, but this time with real nobility. These are all individuals who have led their civilizations remarkably enough to enter history and be considered worthy candidates for a video game.
Now, not all of them are royals in the literal sense. Fortunately, many cultures simply don't have that concept, but many others do, so you can play as Cleopatra and destroy Rome or perhaps play something closer to reality and conquer vast lands as Tsar Peter of Russia. Here, being regal means having the power to do whatever you want.
3 Dishonored 2
Dishonored is a fantastic game, a demonstration of how stealth games, a well-crafted game world, and the feeling of being smarter and more powerful than everyone around you can create an impressive immersive experience. Equally important in the games is the sense of being dishonored, being pushed to the edge by those who plot against you.
Corvo is not a royal member; he was born into a poor family and only became the royal protector and nothing more. But in Dishonored 2, you can play as Emily, who could be considered the true protagonist of the game. Her father and throne are taken away from her, and she must witness the injustices in her own kingdom in order to reclaim it.
2 Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom
Although it is called Ni No Kuni 2, it is actually the fifth game in the series - however, it should probably be considered as the second main installment. Set hundreds of years after the original, Ni No Kuni 2 follows the story of the young king, Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum, who is on a journey to reclaim his kingdom.
The game features a lot of overworld exploration and real-time combat, but where the royal responsibilities come into play is in the construction of the kingdom. You must recruit citizens, build facilities, and conduct extensive research, all based on your own decisions. It's a great way to showcase your influence on the world, which also affects the gameplay.
The Katamari games may be a bit unconventional in many ways and perhaps not what comes to mind when one thinks of royalty. But when your father is the king of the entire cosmos and you are the swift prince of the entire cosmos, you don't quite feel entitled to question it. Nevertheless, if you love rolling things until they become gigantic, the Katamari games are just right for you!
These games cater to an interesting niche, the almost instinctive desire to "make the ball big" when rolling it, making it simply impossible to stop playing. How big can the ball get? How big until it can swallow cars? Is that really ethical? Why do you even do it? It doesn't matter. Because. Ball. Big. Become.