Royal Frontier blends turn-based RPG mechanics with a rogue-lite structure for a package that’s fine if a little thin.
Title: Royal Frontier
Release Date: March 18, 2022
Suggested Audience Age: Everyone 10+
Time to Play: 20 minutes per run, with a ton of stuff to unlock
Availability: Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, Steam
Recommended for fans of: Grindy RPGs, Roguelites, and games to play while watching garbage TV
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
Royal Frontier is an incredible example of exactly what it says on the tin. This game has you engage in a series of turn-based RPG-style battles as you progress through a rogue-lite structure and… that’s it.
That’s, like, the whole game.
Okay, I’ll try to tell you a bit more about it, but you probably already know if this is a game for you based on just that description.
Preparing Your Party
Each run through Royal Frontier begins with you assembling a party of three heroes to defend a caravan as it travels across the land. On your first outing, you’ll have a knight, monk, and wizard, but there are three more characters to unlock as you go. You can also choose a few “blessings” that will augment your stats or inventory. If the menu is to be believed, there are one-thousand two-hundred and fifty different blessings to unlock.
That’s way, way too many blessings.
Thankfully, there are only six available at the start, so you won’t immediately be overwhelmed with choice paralysis.
The meat of Royal Frontier is its battle system. You’ll control your 3 heroes in turn-based battles against a handful of enemies at a time over and over and over again. Think grinding through a Final Fantasy game, except without any big story to look forward to.
You can attack, use spells or other abilities, and deploy items. There’s some strategy around timing out buffs for your allies and debuffs on your enemies in order to get through battles efficiently. Like Paper Mario, hitting a button right as an attack is about to hit gives you a bonus, and some abilities have other extra inputs to hit.
This really feels like a pretty standard JRPG combat system. There’s nothing wrong with it, but nothing spectacular, either.
The Meta Game
Between each battle, you return to an overworld map made up of three paths. Each step along the path has a battle, rest point, or event on it. Occasionally there are spots where you can move from one path to another. This structure comes up a lot in rogue-lite games, but just like the battle system, it’s fine, if a bit familiar.
Throughout your adventure, you'll gain XP, which then lets your characters learn new abilities. You'll also find treasures that can augment your party in similar ways to the blessings you could choose at the start.
At the end of each section of the world, you’ll get into a boss battle. From what I’ve seen so far, the bosses are just bigger enemies with more health and heavier hits.
Eventually, you’ll lose a battle, which will kick you back to the start of the game, but with some new characters or blessings unlocked.
There it is, Royal Frontier in a nutshell. As I said, it’s a game that puts turn-based RPG mechanics into a rogue-lite structure, and that’s it. It does those things well, but it also doesn’t really do more than that.
I know I don’t sound super enthusiastic about this game, but I actually like it quite a bit. It’s been a perfect game to play a bit of while watching trashy reality TV with my wife. It requires just enough attention to keep me from going insane watching rich people argue about how rich they are, but not so much that I ever feel like I’m missing out on anything by dividing my attention.
You can watch TroytlePower’s first moments with Royal Frontier below!