Remember when you first loaded up Windows, whether it be 3.1, 95, 98 and beyond? Remember going to see what the free games were? Minesweeper and Solitaire were the ones that stood out, they were the ones you’d play in I.T class when the teacher’s head was turned, stealthily hiding that window when he looked in your direction?
For me, it was Solitaire that took most of my time, as I love a good card game. Which brings me to around 2007 ish and another solitaire game found a way into my heart. It was a new take on the game, mixing in a good amount of humour, with various level packs and a golfing aesthetic which made the game a joy to play…that was of course, Fairway Solitaire.
I have beaten that game many, many times and certainly had my money’s worth. But eventually I had to give it up, as there really is only so many times you can beat the same game. I longed for it on the Vita, the PC, hell anything, with some new levels to bring me back, or at least something like it, a good sequel.
I longed for this and it appeared nothing was ever going to come to me…until that is, a chance encounter on Twitter and a Steam search later. I found a game called Regency Solitaire, which is where I give full disclosure… I was all set to buy this game myself, but the developer got in touch and I did get a code for it.
Why do I bring this up? Well because after a brief back and forth, I found that the developer for Regency Solitaire was also the lead on Fairway Solitaire and also had some of the original team working with him on this. So I was already excited for what was to come and again full disclosure, I love this game for the levels alone.
The idea is simple, you get a pack of cards and you use the rules of solitaire to clear the level of all the cards. So if you have a 7 at the top of your deck, you can then use that to clear a 6 or 8, etc. You get bonuses for clearing a certain amount of cards without drawing a new one, plus various specials and unlocks to help or hinder you.
Seriously, I love this stuff and it is my most favourite of time killers out there.
However, I want to be fair in my assessment and despite my personal love for this game, there are some slightly negative things I must talk about. The first of those being the polish of the overall game.
Now, I never really like attacking artistic impressions, so it isn’t the Downton Abbey style setting, as I think the style works really well overall, it is more the fact the resolution doesn’t allow you to have this fullscreen properly, it looks stretched and low-res, which is disappointing when you consider just how wonderful Fairway Solitaire looked and the amazing character it has.
However, this is a small team and the visuals don’t really affect the gameplay. Another thing this game has, which is actually just a personal pet hate, is a story and whilst it is nicely written, without grabbing you too much, it doesn’t feel like it is needed and if I wasn’t reviewing it, I’d likely skip the most of it.
It feels like it is there to bring out a bit of a reward and progression mechanic, which I get, but just doesn’t do it for me.
But that is enough of my negativity and back to what I love. Each level is just a joy to play, with a wonderful variety of layouts and interesting changes to mechanics to keep things fresh. It has a lot of homages to parts from Fairway, but they have changed them enough to fit in the aristocratic setting.
It does the usual thing you’d expect from these sorts of games, with easy opening levels, followed by bigger and tougher challenges, but as with Fairway and coming from the same guy, the balance and difficulty curve is spot on.
I would love to see more of this, whether that be new level packs, a new style or a complete new game again from the same team. Regency Solitaire is a fantastic game in an underappreciated genre.