A long time ago, in a kingdom far, far away, lived a rather hapless population, governed by a king who was pretty snooty but ran a rather tight ship. Then one day things began to fall apart and it was all blamed on the king. Now a mysterious stranger has come to town and challenged the king's right to rule. Can the royal envoy fix things before the general election? Yes rejoice time management fans, because a certain snooty king and an incompetently run kingdom are back for a third time to test our puzzle solving reflexes. Playrix Entertainment is back with Royal Envoy: Campaign for the Crown and the action is faster, more frantic, and much more puzzle driven than ever before!
If you've played any of the first two Royal Envoy games the basic gameplay should be pretty familiar: Each level has a set of goals which can be accomplished by constructing housing or buildings to meet the needs of the local residents. Solving a level is a matter of marshaling certain resources such as labor, gold, lumber, and food and applying them to create housing, buildings, or other specialized structures needed by the residents. Everything can be accomplished either by a click of a mouse to set tasks or just a sweep of the cursor to pick up food, gold, or lumber that has been produced.
Each area of the kingdom has its own particular climate and challenges, whether it is snow, desert, or swamp. There are a small variety of houses to produce rent, buildings to produce goods, and decorations to produce happiness with which to work as you attempt to repair the kingdom and kick out Swindler before he completely ruins everything. Along the way you are helped or hindered by a wide variety of characters including blackmailing pirates, mad hatters, greedy gluttons, helpful elephants, bored druids, and many more. Can you win the election for the king?
Analysis: Royal Envoy: Campaign for the Crown does something highly unusual in a time management game of the Build-a-Lot type that it started out as. Rather than pile on a ton of new stuff, the game first strips back a lot of the basic gameplay. There are now only three types of housing available, and the buildings such as the sawmills and markets never get any bigger than the beginner's level which offers 50, 100, and 250 of each resource. By stripping the core gameplay back in this way Playrix can add on the new stuff that is unique to each region of the kingdom without overwhelming with useless details, making the gameplay even more thoughtful and puzzle-centric.
Getting used to the more basic gameplay allows you, the player, to enjoy the new stuff even more. The mad hatters and their amazing magical tunnels, the bribable (and helpful) elephants, and all of the other new characters and challenges. Especially fun in the dark and the fog levels are the drunken pirates and the druids, who will light up bonfires to illuminate an area, but only for money and only for a limited time. If you want the light to continue, the gold must continue to flow. It's a very old lesson but a good one: Once you pay the danegeld, baby, you never get rid of the Dane!
Royal Envoy: Campaign for the Crown is packed with a ton of gameplay. With 63 regular adventure levels, and another 63 expert adventure levels (reachable if you can three-star all of the regular adventure levels), you are looking at hours and hours of fun, frantic time management gameplay. Playrix proves that less is more with this third entry into the Royal Envoy series. For fans of the genre, this is unique and challenging entertainment and the answer to the eternal question: what do you do with a drunken sailor? In this game, you pay him. Lots.
Note: Royal Envoy 3 is currently only available in a Collector's Edition, which includes bonus gameplay (30 challenge levels), wallpapers, a screensaver, the soundtrack, and a built-in strategy guilde. Remember that Big Fish Game Club Members pay only $13.99 for Collector's Editions, and collector's editions count 3 card punches of 6 total needed for a free game.