The sequel to developer Playrix’s first casual-oriented management game, Royal Envoy 2 has you working your village planning skills on the entirely new province of Middleshire, home to ten distinct regions, ranging from tropical beaches and arctic areas to forests and mountainous sections. Each area is viewable from an overhead map, with colored circles representing a level from the particular region. The goal is to restore prosperity and happiness to each region by completing a series of objectives before time expires.
As with titles like Build-a-lot, Fate of the Pharaoh, and many other casual-themed building games, each level has a mix of developed properties and empty lots. To fulfill your objectives, you may need to build x-amount of houses, raise x-amount of cash, or gather x-amount of resources like food or wood. Workers are also required to build structures, gather resources, and clear blocked roads.
A vertical meter serves as the level’s time limit, with up to three stars awarded to players for completing their tasks as quickly as possible. Fail to reach your objective before time expires (ten minutes of "real" time), and you’ll have to restart the stage.
Fans of the original Royal Envoy will notice quite a number of changes to the gameplay. You no longer have to wait for your workers to collect resources and then bring them to the castle –- the resources will simply pop up in front of the tree or building, allowing you to click on them so they can be instantly added to your reserves.
While this change saves some waiting time, it results in an extraordinary amount of clicking, to the point where you might worry about your wrist and fingers. Workers also have the annoying tendency to automatically walk back to the castle after finishing their task. If you click on a tree, for example, a worker will walk over and start chopping it, immediately stopping after some wood is created. Unless you click on the same tree again, the work will slowly walk back to the castle. It’s a lot of needless clicking, and there’s no way to simply assign a worker to a particular resource until it is depleted.
Another change is that the addition of two new building types –- the farm and the forestry -– that will periodically appear on certain levels. These buildings take some of the pain out of harvesting resources, since they will automatically generate food or wood as long as you house at least one worker in them (each structure can hold two workers). The other options for gathering food and wood are the market and sawmill, respectively, which allows you to the chance to purchase one particular resource for gold.
Most of the changes seem to be geared to simplifying the gameplay for audiences rather than adding new strategic options. For example, you can now only upgrade a house or cottage one time instead of multiple times, tax collectors have been removed from the game, and there’s not much wiggle room for trying different things – there’s typically only one way to meet your objectives, so . The game is not easy –- trying to get three stars on a level will take multiple attempts, but the game still relies very much on trial-and-error to determine the optimal build order.
While Royal Envoy 2’s gameplay closely adheres to other building/management titles, the production values are stellar. From the artwork and animations to the music and menu screens, Royal Envoy 2 is easily the best looking game of its type released to date.
Workers will lift up logs and feed them through the sawmill, birds will fly overhead, fish will jump out of ponds, pirates will cool themselves off by fanning themselves with their hats, and much more. This helps bring the world to life –- even the map screen is filled with animations, such as a giant, billowing smoke that partially covers the landscape that will affect the visibility in certain levels.
The twists help hold your interest throughout the game, and the developers did a great job in holding back just enough building options to make each new location more interesting. There are mini-games built into the traditional levels, such as engaging in a snowball fight with rivals (which involves clicking on enemies as they pop their heads over the wall), or navigating your way through a maze blocked by items that need to cleared out before advancing. You'll also have to deal with events like a thick fog obscuring levels, forcing you to light up street lamps before you can start building on a particular lot.
While simplifying some of the play mechanics found in the original game may turn off some players, Royal Envoy 2 is nonetheless an enjoyable take on the building/management genre that seems to have struck a chord with casual audiences. Wonderful animations, impressive artwork, and some amusing mini-games help offset the high amount of clicking involved with completing your objectives.