Yes, Your Grace is a magical game. Just open up the main menu and you will see this. Its wonderful 16-bit inspired visuals, soft rain and fantastic score hit you right in the pit of your stomach. It feels almost like that moment you finish driving but want to continue listening to the music so you just sit there in your car, as still as you can, eyes closed, enjoying its finish. In fact, the song and visuals are so nice you’ll not want to actually start the game.
Luckily, starting it proves to be worth your time. The opening states “Yes, Your Grace is a game of tough choices…. If you simply have enough resources at the end of each week, that’s good enough.”. Tonally, this feels fitting with the game in a fantastic way. It is incredibly aware of what it offers, knowing you might get mad, but it also knows you won’t stop playing. It urges you to carry on, rewarding you merely for surviving.
You need to do far better than survive in Yes, Your Grace. If you care about the characters – and you will – you need to thrive to do right by them. You play the role of King Eryk, ruling over a kingdom in the land of Davern. You are introduced to Eryk sitting on his throne; you must pick up his crown and head out to the castle gate, where you see an insurmountable army of enemies to fight. Before battle commences you are taken to an earlier date and introduced to the actual game. Trying to avoid as many spoilers as possible – because, seriously, that would ruin the entire experience – this is all you need to know in regards to the story. You are given your future and must take steps to overcome the challenge in front of you.
It is the characters within Yes, Your Grace which are some of the strongest elements of its design. The game has a genuinely warm sense of humour to it, through folk such as Cedani, Eryk’s youngest daughter. And it has to be said, they show real depth with different viewpoints and scenarios. Each character feels well-designed and real, despite being goofy and often strange. In a lesser game, it might come off ill-conceived, but here it is all incredibly endearing. I can barely remember the names of people I’ve just met in real-life, yet Eryk, Aurelea, Lrsulia, Asalia, and Cedani are names I remember and know; a testament to the strength of their character. And this is helped by the gameplay.
The main gameplay structure feels like a mix of Reigns, Kingdom: New Lands, and the heartbreaking flash game, One Chance. That being said, if this paragraph would allow thirty different games, I would choose them too. Yes, Your Grace feels familiar yet distinct in its gameplay, allowing it to have a carved identity. It is primarily about making decisions and waiting for those decisions to one day hurt you. You must move around a handful of distinct areas, all of which hold certain residents of your kingdom or specific things to interact with. Yes, Your Grace is split up into weeks where you must do everything available to you each week before skipping to the next. You start in your throne as characters come in and decisions are made. These often take the form of the bank, traders, kings, or petitioners. All of these will either have an important decision to make or will be informing you of the results of previous actions.
Perhaps one of the best design choices here is, often, those consequences aren’t immediately clear. You might have to wait for half a year to discover why it was important to cure someone’s stomach ache, or to find the creature making frightening noises in the night. Admittedly one of those sounds more serious than the other. Yes, Your Grace features a way of exploring your castle each week, as you are tasked with analysing pieces, talking to prisoners, resolving conflict and much more. As the game builds and more ideas become clear to you, you must partake in even more ideas of gameplay. One important one focuses on sending a pigeon to call lords to you. These can offer bonuses each week or armies for conflict, but often need some promise in return like refusing to talk to certain lords or offering to do certain quests.
You don’t directly action any of these quests, instead opting to send your general, witch or hunter to solve them. They each have different ways of dealing with missions, and occasionally a mission can only be solved through a specific commander. You must make sure to pay them in advance for each week they operate under you, which makes them available for that week. Keeping track of these resources is, ultimately, the most important and pressing issue going into Yes, Your Grace. You are tasked with monitoring your kingdom’s happiness, your gold, and your supplies. Most tasks require some donation of the three and each week a set amount is taken out to support your purchases and feed your army. You can choose to not feed your army or not pay your General, if you so wish, but this will diminish your army and leave your General unable to help that week.
Ultimately, you will spend most of your time in Yes, Your Grace feeling anxious, mostly due to worrying that you won’t have enough supplies or your decisions will cause damage. But it is here where the fun is found. Surviving through the skin of your teeth is endlessly satisfying, whilst failing and starting over is addicting as you learn what choices are best for the route you choose to take. Saying that, there is a certain tedium in repeating story elements and the loading times between the gameplay to the end of week report can crawl upward of a minute.
Luckily, the fantastic visuals and music are there to entertain you. One listen to the title theme should hook you in and the rest of the soundtrack should keep you hanging around even longer. Polish Metal band Merkfolk add this wonderful dynamism to the soundtrack with droning hurdy-gurdy and syncopated vocals, whilst Carlos Filipe Alves adds a softer, often harp-driven fantasy to it.
Whilst Yes, Your Grace on Xbox One can occasionally feel a little tedious, the strength of its design is apparent. It is more than just the sum of its parts. It is tied together with thought and class using its pretty visuals, great audio and fantastic characters to great effect. Yes, Your Grace is funny, endearing, occasionally heartbreaking and, most importantly, incredibly memorable. It has made a big impact on me and I’m sure it will many others.