Royal Frontier – Review
Follow Genre: RPG, Roguelite
Developer: Woblyware
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Platform: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: Switch

Royal Frontier – Review

Site Score
Good: Interesting core idea
Bad: Gameplay quickly devolves into a repetitive grindfest
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

While we’ve never actually played Oregon Trail ourselves, this legendary video game has cemented its place in popular culture so well that we’re very aware of what it’s like. Why are we bringing up an old educational computer game from the ‘70s when we’re about to discuss Royal Frontier, you ask? Well, simply because developer Woblyware clearly took inspiration from this classic title when they came up with their own caravan-themed game. The end product is something that definitely shares similarities with Oregon Trail, but is ultimately a completely different experience. Is it any good? Join us as we head to the Royal Frontier to find out.


We’d hesitate to really put the label ‘story’ on Royal Frontier’s premise. It has a short opening scene, but this is little more than window dressing and only serves to give context to the game. You can even skip this scene on subsequent playthroughs. Royal Frontier’s premise is that a traveling caravan of settlers is set to venture eastward, where gold has been struck. Getting to the east requires the settlers to go on a long and dangerous journey across a medieval fantasy realm, filled with monsters, bandits, and treacherous terrain. The caravan turns to mercenaries to guide them safely across the world, which is where Royal Frontier’s heroes come in. Three mercenaries form a party and join up with the caravan, which is basically the entirety of Royal Frontier’s plot.


Royal Frontier’s visuals look like they’d be right at home on the Game Boy Advance. The cartoonish pixel art aesthetic, which reminded us of Potion Party, looks fantastic and is one of Royal Frontier’s highlights. The bright colors and cutesy character designs may not entirely reflect the game’s difficulty level -more on that later- but they do provide the game with some much-needed personality. The animations are very limited, and even the opening cutscene consists of static images for the most part. This was a minor letdown, as we felt like Royal Frontier didn’t quite live up to our expectations in this regard.


The MIDI-style tunes employed in Royal Frontier might not make for the most exciting soundscape, but they are very fitting for the game’s overall mood. Not only does the music match well with the GBA-esque visuals, but they’re quite catchy in their own right. Given that Royal Frontier lacks voice acting and that the sound effects are serviceable but rather unremarkable, the game’s OST is clearly the shining star of what would otherwise be a rather bleak soundscape.


While Royal Frontier was undoubtedly inspired by Oregon Trail in terms of theme and certain gameplay elements, such as random events that influence how successful your journey will end up being, what you’re getting here is not a text-based adventure. Instead, Royal Frontier presents players with roguelite turn-based RPG gameplay. You’re tasked with taking three party members on a lengthy journey, with the ultimate aim being to simply make it to the other side of your chosen path. This is easier said than done, of course, and you’ll probably die and will have to start over several times. This is inherent to the nature of the game’s concept though, so whether or not Royal Frontier is going to be up your alley depends on how deterministic (and occasionally, masochistic) you are as a gamer.

As your party takes on their 45-ish day journey, you’ll need to choose which path to take when you come across a fork in the road, which determines the flow of the game. The game gives a rough indication of what you can expect through icons, and you are able to switch paths at specific points. You’ll run into random events, the majority of which turn out to be enemy encounters. Luckily, there are more exciting things to be found, such as treasures or if you’re really lucky, saintly statues that will bless and heal your party. Along the way, you’ll pick up not just new gear and items to improve your party, but currency as well, which you can spend on even shinier goodies. Arguably the biggest tools at your disposal are the abilities that your party members pick up as they gain experience and level up. The randomized nature of each journey means that no two playthroughs will play out the same, but unfortunately, this doesn’t really turn out favorably for Royal Frontier, as more often than not, it feels like the game is simply stacking the deck against you and deliberately screwing you over. Make no mistake: this is a brutal game, and you’ll see your party die several times before the end credits roll.

The unfortunate death of your party actually ties into one of the game’s core design principles. Once you inevitably meet your untimely demise, you’ll be scored according to how well you did. This score translates into a number of ‘blessings’, which act as perks for subsequent runs. You’ll be able to start a new run with improved stats and better resources. This makes it easier to get further when you restart the journey, which in turn makes it more likely that you’ll progress further and receive a higher score before you die again. This in turn rewards you with a greater number of blessings, and the cycle continues. It’s an interesting system that encourages multiple playthroughs -and you’ll need those if you ever want to make it to the end- but ultimately, it does lead to Royal Frontier feeling like a repetitive grindfest more than anything else.

Of course, the need to grind isn’t uncommon in roguelite titles, but we’d be a lot more forgiving if the game’s turn-based combat system felt more satisfying. It’s simple enough to understand: you either perform a basic attack, spend energy points to perform a special ability, or use an item. The only thing to worry about is pushing your attack or defense button at the right time, as the game uses a very rudimentary QTE system that allows you to deflect enemy attacks and perform bonus attacks. It means that you’ll need to stay focused on the fights rather than mindlessly bash buttons, and it can be frustrating on the first few tries, but getting the timing right comes naturally over time. This back-to-basics approach feels refreshing at first, as you don’t need to figure out an overcomplicated combat system, but unfortunately, the sheer amount of combat encounters you’ll need to get through before the credits roll makes it so that Royal Frontier’s combat overstays its welcome by a wide margin.

It’s a shame, as the basic idea behind Royal Frontier is interesting, to say the least, but the execution is flawed. The fact that the game essentially forces you to restart it several times in order to complete it could have been brilliant if there had been more variety. Yes, each run is randomized, but the majority of your encounters consist of combat, and there simply isn’t enough enemy variety to keep things interesting in this regard. Royal Frontier doesn’t really offer any incentive to revisit it once you made it to the end of the journey for the first time either, with the only reason to replay it being that the game forces you to do so.


During its first few hours, Royal Frontier provides players with a fun little experience that marries the roguelite RPG genre with the Oregon Trail series. However, the lack of variety in its randomized events and inherently repetitive nature of the game make for a title that grows stale way too fast. Add to this that the game occasionally feels like it wants to screw you over and you end up with an experience that will only appeal to a limited audience. If you’re in the specific niche that Royal Frontier targets, you might see this journey to its end, but for a significant number of people, it’s probably not even worth beginning.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Royal Frontier - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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  1. […] recently took a look at Royal Frontier, a roguelike RPG that took inspiration from Oregon Trail. Now, we’re back with another game […]

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