STAFF REVIEW of Yes, Your Grace (Xbox One)

Thursday, December 24, 2020.
by Adam Dileva

Yes, Your Grace Box art Most games that take place in kingdoms are generally open world adventures that has you fulfilling some magical or world saving quest. Yes, Your Grace does things completely differently. Instead of some grandiose adventure, you, King Eryk of the land of Davern, will perform your daily kingly duties, listening to petitioners, deciding courses of action that benefit your subjects, your livelihood and kingdom. Yes, Your Grace plays more like a kingdom management game than anything else, which isn’t what I was expecting, but surely made me think differently about the daily duties of a King.

Developed by a small indie studio, Brave At Night, you’ll be faced with making some very difficult situations, some of which you won’t realize the repercussions until much later. Do you decide to help your subjects short term, or think long term and do what’s better for the kingdom as a whole? Do you turn away starving people to better bolster your defenses? How do you even know if the person asking for help or a handout is even telling the truth? Much of the game will be weighing your decisions, trying to decide what the best course of action is, but it’s not always so black and white.

While he may be a King, Eryk seemingly doesn’t have the wealthiest of kingdoms, so you can’t simply throw gold at every problem, as you’ll quickly run out. The same goes for your supplies and men, so you need to constantly balance how and whom you want to help. Decide to help no one and your subjects will turn against you, so you have to constantly be watching your gold, supplies, men and morale. Ideally you want to keep everyone happy, but it simply isn’t possible.

Every new day you’ll have a line of villagers and messengers asking for your assistance. Some request assistance with monsters attacking their village, whereas others might want a helping hand to open a tavern. You have no idea who is telling the truth, or if they’ll simply run away with your gold instead of doing what they said they would. Then there are some very difficult choices, like marrying off your daughters in return for protection and an alliance from other Lords and Kings. I don’t want to delve into the main plot points, as that’s what the gameplay revolves around, but it was interesting enough that I wanted to see it through.

Much of Yes, Your Grace is designed to make you believe your choices matter, and while they do to an extent, there’s many events that occur that take place regardless of your choices, which forces the narrative in a specified direction. The major plot points are going to play out generally the same way regardless of how and whom you choose to help, which is fine, but once you understand how to manage your resources, that’s what most of your decision making will come down to. If any of your resources like gold, supplies or following dips to zero or below, it’s game over. I’ve reached a ‘Game Over’ screen at least a half dozen times before figuring this out, then I was able to finally reach one of the endings.

A management game at its core, the main emphasis is keeping your subjects content, though you’ll have numerous other issues to deal with, like your youngest daughter who keeps finding random animals to keep as pets, or another daughter that is taking up sword fighting against your better judgement. While the crux of the gameplay will be listening to all your petitioners each week, you are able to move around your castle and explore the other areas, talking to NPC’s (though generally if it’s only relevant for a quest), gathering evidence or sending your General and other special servants to explore areas outside the walls for you.

As you listen to everyone and do everything you can in the given week, you’ll then finish your week with a summary of your gains, losses and costs. This will all be a direct result of the decisions you make. If you spent gold to help repair buildings, then maybe that will pay you returns in the future. Maybe giving some peasants supplies pays off in different ways in the following weeks. All it comes down to though is that you can’t hit zero or negative on your gold, supplies, army or following. This weekly screen is where you can decide to invent more into certain projects, pay the weekly payroll for certain subjects or even slowly pay off your debt from loans. It’s not explained all that well in the beginning, but after a few ‘Game Over’ screens you’ll start to catch on.

As you get further into the story, certain quests will appear, allowing you to send your General, Witch or Hunter, if you wish. Choosing to do so will send them out for a week or two, but what happens if two people require the help of your General? You need to make tough decisions. Do you try and give them supplies or gold instead? That’s difficult because your army needs to be fed as well, so there’s a constant pull from every direction, trying to figure out the best course of action short and long term. You can’t keep everyone happy, which was hard for me to accept at first. You’re also only allowed one game save at a time as well, so no choosing one option and reloading a different save to see what the outcome is. You’ll have to live with your decisions, for better and worse.

You’ll also be able to invite Lords to your castle via pigeon carrier, so it will take a week for them to arrive. Do you invite a guest that could potentially join under your banner when the time comes for battle, or would you give into their sometimes unfair demands for their protection? Maybe one Lord wants to turn you against another though. These are the decisions you won’t see the outcomes until much later, which can help or harm your efforts into surviving the ever looming battle. You interact with your family enough and learn about their backstory that you actually start to care about some of them as you progress, which speaks volumes about the quality of the writing and narrative.

Yes, Your Grace utilizes retro pixel based graphics, something akin to a classic King’s Quest or from that era. Even with its retro aesthetic, the artwork and animations are done exceptionally well for its style. Characters look distinct, animation is smooth and even the opening title screen is wonderful to look at. The same goes for its audio and setting, as it utilizes that classic retro music that sounds like it came directly out of the 80’s or 90’s. While there’s no voice acting, they do use that distinct Sims-like gibberish instead of actual lines of dialogue. The audio and visuals blend together so well, making for a wonderful overall experience that felt modern yet retro simultaneously.

Yes, Your Grace does make you feel like a King, but that comes with making difficult decisions where you won’t always know the exact repercussions until much later. While it may be a kingdom management game at its core, it does have a certain charm, personality and feels like a completely unique experience, plus it’s on GamePass, so there’s no reason to not check it out Your Grace.

**Yes, Your Grace was reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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