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Reigns Beyond review – sci-fi silliness meets rock band road trip
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Reigns Beyond review – sci-fi silliness meets rock band road trip

You may remember the Reigns series from its excellent Game of Thrones tie-in: its signature is Tinder-esque card swiping, where you make snap decisions on what to say or do by flicking left or right, before watching the consequences unfold. After crash-landing on a random planet, you are roped in to joining an intergalactic rock band, which seems only fair as you just accidentally killed their guitarist with your out-of-control ship. From there you set off across the stars, landing on whatever planets you come across, picking up stowaways and goopy space-creatures and occasionally making a discovery about the universe (or your mysteriously sentient ship).

You also die, a lot. Rarely have I played a game in which death is so frequent, and so funny. I have inhaled a deadly space fungus, been smothered by multiplying fluffy space bunnies, and had my head literally bitten off by my manager, who is also a shark. I have exploded, expired, aspirated, starved, and once I accidentally vaporised all life in a solar system by plugging in a guitar amp. Every time this happens, you are resurrected to the last planet you visited, ready to go again – there are no lasting consequences in Reigns, just momentary catastrophic setbacks.

This does not entirely purge frustration; I lost almost every space fight I got into, which got old fast, and if you want to make actual progress by acquiring new guitars or visiting a particular planet, the random misfortune can start to feel less cute. Repetition of scenarios also starts to show up quite early on, within a couple of hours. But Reigns is never dull, and I would want to return to it before long to see what nonsense happened next.

Reigns Beyond works as a madcap space caper that you can dip into for 10 minutes at a time, and the wit and pace of the dialogue are impressive. But I did wonder why I was part of a band. Sometimes when you land on a planet you’ll play a gig, but these musical interludes are repetitive, unchallenging and inconsequential. It’s funny and surprisingly wide-ranging as a space-team comedy, but as a band buddy comedy it’s comparatively shallow. I also wonder whether the name isn’t holding it back at this point: Reigns made sense when it was a game about being a variably competent monarch, but it doesn’t scream comedy sci-fi, and I think it will end up passing a lot of people by as a result – a minor tragedy, as you won’t find anything else like these few hours of spacefaring silliness for under a fiver.

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Source: theguardian.com