Yes, Your Grace is an incredibly well-written kingdom-management RPG developed by the studio Brave At Night and published by No More Robots. With an impressive musical score and a rich but terrifying world, Yes, Your Grace pushes the narrative bounds of the kingdom-management genre with its moving storyline that will have you laughing just as much as crying. This is our review of Yes, Your Grace.
The King & the Curse
Where to begin? The story of Yes, Your Grace centers around the cursed King Eryk, his family, and the imminent danger that has arisen thanks to the arrival of the barbaric Radovians and their leader Beyran. In order to try to prevent Beyran from being able to marry his eldest daughter Lorsulia, that was promised to him 13 years ago, the old king is left with the decision to marry his beloved daughter to Prince Ivo. By doing this, he also hopes to secure a large army that will defend the kingdom and his family when Beyran descends upon Davern.
The curse of Beyran’s witch looms over the family throughout the game. It is a secret that only the King and Queen are privy to at first: the Queen will be unable to give birth to a son unless they hold up their end of the bargain and allow Beyran to marry their eldest daughter.
What quickly unfolds is an elaborate plot by Yes, Your Grace’s creators to rip your heart out over, and over again until you finally complete the game and have to come to terms with your choices as King Eryk. Since the game automatically saves, you can’t “safe scum” your way to a happy end. No, you’ve done this, and now you have to live with yourself and see the end. And, you’ll want to. The characters and their relationships are so well-written and thought-out that you feel compelled to keep playing so that you can see their resolution. You have to.
The Throne Awaits
Every day that King Eryk resides within the castle walls, he will have to wake up and take his place on the throne to hear the pleas of his people. Some come with silly requests, and others with dire needs. However, not everyone is honest. There are red herrings placed within the queue of petitioners that want to see the kingdom fall or wish to blackmail you for their own gain. It is up to you to decide who is telling the truth, and who you should spend vital resources on. The happiness of your people is very important, but so are the resources of the kingdom when you’re trying to build up for an all-out war.
Though your work as King is surely tiring, you can’t forget to check on your wife and children. How could you? Sometimes they actually join the line of villagers every day to seek an audience with you. Downtime with your family is a pleasant experience-most of the time. Eryk can be a kind and loving father, and has some truly special moments with his family that make your heart melt. Without giving too much away-treasure every moment with them. You never know when it may be your last.
Hirelings: The Witch, the General, and the Hunter
As you progress further into the game, you’ll be able to hire a Witch, Hunter, and a General that can go out into the world and solve problems that you might not be able to immediately as King. The Witch is adept at healing and supernatural problems, which added another layer of wonder to the world around you. Though it is set in the fantasy middle ages, Davern isn’t completely surrounded by common magic, so the villagers are truly frightened when these strange supernatural happenings begin to plague their lives. The General is good for dealing with bandits and physical labor, and the Hunter prides himself on his work in tracking down bothersome creatures. Unfortunately, the Hunter is a little too good at his job and might have dispatched one of Cedani’s “agents”…
Each of these hirelings actually cost gold to hire and keep in employment for each week. So if you decide not to spend money on them one week and a villager comes by with a request that specifically requires the Witch, you’re unfortunately SOL and will have to turn them down. Sorry ma’am, Baba Yaga will have to roam free for another week.
Kingdom Management and the Final Battle
The kingdom-management component of the game is fairly simple, but definitely demands that you prioritize those things that matter most to your rule. Keep in mind, there is a huge war coming, and you’ll need food and men to fight it. The happier your villagers are, the more money you can earn, but you’ll need to invest some resources into them to get the gold rolling in. Not only that, but sometimes investing in those villagers is a gamble. Remember, not everyone is honest, so you might have just given away 20 gold for nothing.
How your kingdom-management plays into the final battle with the Radovians and the story of Yes, Your Grace is still a bit confusing to me. During my playthrough I struggled a lot with resource management, but got as many soldiers and as much food as I could for my people. I didn’t have many castle upgrades to defend against the onslaught, but I did manage to hold on until reinforcements from my ally arrived. In a friend’s playthrough, they managed to max out just about all of their castle upgrades for the battle and had all of the food and soldiers they needed to make it through the fight. What we ended up seeing was a very similar result in our cutscenes (with slight changes due to our choices during the game), but ultimately the outcome was fairly linear.
Final Thoughts: Story and Resource Management
I think where some folks take issue with Yes, Your Grace is how many crucial parts of the story are locked in place that you can’t influence; namely, the very beginning, and the end. The marriage of your daughter Lorsulia to Prince Ivo is the first major event in the game that kicks off the main plot, and you don’t have much of a say in it. Sometimes you are just along for the ride, but that doesn’t mean that the story doesn’t have an excellent structure and some pretty damn good writing. Yes, Your Grace’s goal was very clearly to create a moving story that was supported by a kingdom-management system, and I think they did a spectacular job. In order to accomplish that, there had to be some supporting backbone to the narrative.
The illusion of choice depicted throughout the game was crafted to perfection. Only after I finished my playthrough was I disheartened to find out that a lot of what I encountered wasn’t completely due to my own choices. Where I was genuinely surprised about this, however, is that it didn’t feel like I was completely out of control. Each action had a reaction and consequence, and this was evidently illustrated every day that you sat on the throne.
Events were constantly happening and weaving in and out of the main story, with supporting dialogue based on what you did the prior day. Oh, you supported a lavish wedding the day prior? Well, your daughter snuck out that night and went drinking and dancing at the wedding. While she might have gone to the wedding regardless (because she’s a damn rebellious teenager) you felt like an idiot for wasting precious resources on an event that came back to haunt you. I appreciated how seamless the story felt, and I think it’s a great testament to the team’s storytelling ability that they were able to craft something with such incredible pacing.
A huge thank you to PR for providing a key to review the game.