Yes, Your Grace is a handsome pixel art game about being a king. A king who sits on a throne while lines of people ask for things. Can you spare some gold and supplies to help a village after it was raided? Can you send someone to help find a lost boy? Can you help a farmer pay for his daughter's wedding? Wait what? Get on with you, you rascal! Lowborn or high, they all want something from you.
Help and your realm's Contentment will rise - but you can't help everybody. You barely have enough gold to get by, let alone repair your dungeon, and your supplies are dwindling. What's more, you don't have an army - and you know you will need one. You know because you've seen what's coming three years hence: an enemy at your walls. If you're not prepared, it will crush you.
Will your preparations be enough? Will you be able to muster the defences you need while juggling the happiness of realm, alliance and family? That, in a nutshell, is Yes, Your Grace - part adventure game, part strategy. Week by in-game week, you make your choices.
I liked it. I played an hour-long preview build and it was humorous and entertaining to play - not unlike an old LucasArts game, actually. But maybe you've heard of Yes, Your Grace before. It's because there's a backstory I need to fill you in on.
Yes, Your Grace was Kickstarted five years ago. Not for loads of money - just over Ł7000 - but still, people bought into a pitch which never materialised. It's only now, after years of silence, the game is reappearing. And it's changed.
It's changed a lot. The general idea is the same - you're a king and you see lines of people, you walk around your grounds talking to people, you use a map screen to contact nearby lords to make alliances with. But the scope - the scope has changed massively.
What was pitched before was a sprawling game. It had a huge world and RPG systems, and it would take you dozens of hours to play. Now, it's a six-to-eight hour story which ends differently because of the choices you've made.
It was naive ambition which nearly sunk it. That's what Rafał Bryks, the game's creator, told me yesterday. He was fresh out of uni when he pitched the Kickstarter and he promised something he didn't know he couldn't make. It was only him and one other person, and pretty early on, the other person left.
Bryks missed deadlines and his Kickstarter money ran out - it somehow lasted a whole year (lots of noodles, apaprently). A publisher got involved from Eastern Europe - he wouldn't say which one - but refused to pay him a salary to work on the game, so Bryks had to get a job. Yes, Your Grace languished.
Bryks couldn't tell his backers because of contractual reasons, which is why the updates dried up in 2016. He only broke the silence this summer with a long, heartfelt apology post (made publicly readable this week). In it, he offered an explanation as well as refunds to anyone who wanted them. To his surprise, only a "very low" double-digit amount of people did. "It was a huge relief," he told me. "Our backers totally blew my mind."
Fortune smiled on Bryks during his job-hunting days, as he landed a role doing pixel art for a game called Not Tonight. It was a quirky 2018 game about being a bouncer, managing queues (sound familiar?) outside clubs and pubs in Brexit Britain, and it taught him valuable lessons about how to make games. What's more, Not Tonight got him closer to the game's publisher, No More Robots.
He never gave up on Yes, Your Grace, and in his spare time he eventually built a demo. He pitched it to No More Robots and it's with that publisher the game re-emerges now. Now, Bryks can work full-time on it, as can his partner, and he can take on contracted help. More to the point: Yes, Your Grace is finally, actually coming out, in spring 2020 on PC.
Today's re-announcement caps years of stress about what people will say when Yes, Your Grace goes public again. He's never stopped worrying about it. "I'm really trying to right the wrong," he assured me. But encouraged by the response from his backers, he's hopeful. And this time, he has a finish line in sight.