Games Where You Play As Royalty

Highlights

  • Fictional settings in gaming allow us to have fun with royalty and nobility without the real-world implications.
  • Some games, like Yes, Your Grace, allow players to experience the challenges and responsibilities of ruling as a monarch.
  • The portrayal of royalty varies in games, from rebellious characters like Melia in Xenoblade Chronicles to absentee monarchs like Noctis in Final Fantasy 15.

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A common theme in gaming is royalty and nobility. It’s one theme that’s featured in almost every fantasy or medieval setting, where big grandiose castles exist. But fictional settings let us escape the imperial tendencies of real royalty, so maybe it’s better to have some fun with it.

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Royalty is found across all forms of media, and games are no exception. Typically though, you’re usually not the royalty, instead building your way up from the bottom instead of having everything from the beginning. Some games decide to give you that position and power from the beginning and in some very different ways.

Updated October 10th, 2023 by Hilton Webster: Royalty, revolting and glamourous in equal measure, and something that shouldn’t quite exist anymore. Rather than dwelling on that though, you should play as fictional royalty instead! We’ve given this article a freshen-up to give you some more details on your beloved monarchs and the games they come from.

15 Prince Of Persia

Sargon in Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown.

Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown

Franchise
Prince of Persia

Platform(s)
PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Amazon Luna

Genre(s)
Action-Adventure, Platformer

It’s pretty funny when you think about the Prince of Persia series. It died off because it was replaced by Assassin’s Creed, the Prince himself was always a vaguely white man, and the original game was home to some serious sexism. Very little to do with actual Persia.

The Lost Crown has a brand new protagonist for us to play with, though one that isn’t actually the Prince. The series as a whole has a lot of heavy baggage despite the massive impact it had on movement mechanics, and future games have their work cut out for them.

14 Xenoblade Chronicles

a shot of Melia from Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition smiling off into the distance while Riki stands in front of her smiling

Your first thought with Xenoblade Chronicles is likely the massive worlds, grand stories and deeply philosophical discussions on humanity. Maybe it’s Pyra and Mythra’s feet, if you’re Masahiro Sakurai. No matter who you are though, royalty is probably one of the last things to come to mind.

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Our dearest Melia is in fact the future queen of the High Entia, an easy-to-forget fact when she’s drop-kicking enemies. Melia goes against much of the typical portrayals of royalty, not being afraid to get her hands dirty while also dealing with the ingrained prejudices of her people and the royalty that she is upholding.

13 Yes, Your Grace

King and Advisor meet with lobbyist in yes your grace

Yes, Your Grace is a game very much in the vein of Reigns. You play as king of the land of Davern, and must carefully manage the needs of your people between what is just and what is practical. In many ways, this ultimately comes to your own preservation, but the risk of monsters is a genuine one.

The people who visit your court are a memorable sort, many having their own intricacies and stories that will unravel as the games goes on. Securing alliances with other nations is just an integral as supporting your own people if you hope to survive the threats at your doorstep.

12 Hades

Zagreus Prepares To Fight Through Hades

Hades

Platform(s)
PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Switch, PC

Genre(s)
Action RPG

Supergiant is an unmatched development team. Throughout its history, it’s only released four games, and yet each and every one of them is a lesson in what games can achieve from teams as small as this one. Hades gave the developers an unfathomable shot of popularity, which isn’t surprising given the characters.

The first game set somewhat adjacent to reality, Hades takes place in the Greek underworld with you playing as Prince Zagreus, son of Lord Hades. In truth, Zagreus doesn’t fit many definitions of royalty, and is more just a child rebelling against a parent. Okay, it’s a parent who is the lord of the underworld, and who meddles in the affairs of the Greek pantheon, but maybe that’s what princes rebel against for fun?

11 Odin Sphere

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir Playable Characters in a group looking at the viewer

Vanillaware is now a well-known developer, following the success of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, but prior to that, it had released many great games that flew mainly under the radar. One of the first it ever made (and remade) was Odin Sphere. Contrasting with the 3D games of the time, Odin Sphere is entirely 2D, and presented as if it were a play.

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The game is told through a character called Alice reading through old books she’s found. Each book tells the tale of a character, many of whom are kings and queens. The tales weave through each other, and there’s enough political intrigue mixed with Norse mythology to satisfy any buff, with the remake even slightly expanding these stories.

10 Fire Emblem

Fire Emblem Awakening cover

Fire Emblem: Awakening

Franchise
Fire Emblem

Platform(s)
3DS

Genre(s)
JRPG, Strategy

Yeah, that’s right, we mean pretty much the whole Fire Emblem series. In fact, Byleth from Three Houses and Ike in Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn are the only exceptions. But Marth, Chrom, Corrin, Roy, and plenty of others? All royalty. Granted, it’s rare you’re ever the actual highest order here, be it king or other such position, but instead a prince, an heir presumptive, and so on.

Sometimes the title may be meaningless in the grand scale of things and is simply thematically fitting. Sometimes it might be that same position that makes keeping your soldiers alive so meaningful due to your position. It varies from game to game, but you can guarantee you’ll almost always be someone of influence.

9 Kingdom

Promo art for the Norse Lands expansion for Kingdom Two Crowns

Originally launched in 2015, Kingdom is a 2D side-scrolling game where you play as a king or queen, building up your kingdom during the day, only to defend it from vile creatures at night. It functions almost like a tower defense game, allowing you to build various defenses to your left and right to keep your center kingdom safe.

It was followed up with Kingdom: Two Crowns. This let a king and queen play together in co-op, now defending their realm across various different cultures and settings. Here, being royalty is essential to the experience. It is your responsibility to keep your people safe, and your fault if they falter.

8 Fable 3

Fable 3's cover art of a man with a flintlock reaching for a crown

The Fable series has a long and interesting history. From its foundations with the original Fable in 2004 to the newest reboot, Fable has run across multiple time periods and settings, although Fable 3 is the only one where being royalty is core to the experience.

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Beginning as the Prince or Princess of Albion, you are exiled for defying your brother, the King, and must build a revolution against him. Though approximately half the game is spent this way, your influence as royalty gives people faith in your revolt. On ascending, you get to make dramatic choices for the kingdom, playing the comically evil or saintly monarch to your own enjoyment.

7 Final Fantasy 15

The main party of final fantasy 15 with their weapons drawn and the regalia in the background

Final Fantasy 15

Franchise
Final Fantasy

Platform(s)
PS4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia

Genre(s)
Action RPG

The Final Fantasy series has had its fair share of royals and nobles across its long history, but Final Fantasy 15 offers something of a unique view on the position. Being set in the modern-day where being royalty makes you a figurehead, the line of Lucis quite literally has a divine right to rule, the only people capable of repelling darkness.

However, Noctis is something of an absentee monarch. He starts as Prince, but very shortly becomes King, and yet is away from his kingdom most of the game, instead journeying with friends before making the ultimate sacrifice for his people. It’s an emotional journey, despite its at-times janky writing, but holds to the belief that a monarch should serve its people to the death.

6 Crusader Kings

Metacritic RTS Real Time Strategy Best Games 3 crusader kings

Crusader Kings 3

Franchise
Crusader Kings

Platform(s)
PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PC

Genre(s)
RPG, Strategy

It’s pretty much in the name. Crusader Kings 2 made something of an identity for the series, with its vast realization of sprawling kingdoms of Europe and their constantly changing borders, where each little person can dramatically change your rule if not handled correctly. It’s daunting, but deeply rewarding.

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That said, you’re not guaranteed to be royalty, but for most players it will always be the intent. To get to the highest station and accrue as much land as possible until your kingdom is fit to burst. Crusader Kings 3 takes this even further, with each character having more defined personalities, and more incentive to take you down.

5 Reigns

Reigns Game Of Thrones

It’s been said in the past that plenty of dating sites, especially things like Tinder, can be played almost like a game, taking a quick glance at some menial info and a picture before swiping onto the next. It’s fast and easy and seemingly endless. So Reigns decided that, well, why not actually turn it into a game?

Reigns is basically Tinder, but you’re instead swiping to balance four pillars of your rule to ensure none either go too high or too low and promptly end your rule. But as soon as you end, it’s speedy enough to jump right into the next monarch, and the next, and the next.

4 Civilization

Korea in Civilization 6

Civilization 6

Franchise
Civilization

Platform(s)
PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Android, iOS

Genre(s)
Strategy

Fictional settings often embellish, painting royalty in a way quite unlike how it would have actually existed. Civilization well, does the same, but with real royalty this time. These are all people who led their civilizations, remarkably enough to go down in history as a worthy contender for a video game.

Now, not all of them are royalty, per se. Many cultures thankfully simply don’t have the concept, but plenty of others do, letting you play as Cleopatra and destroy Rome, or maybe playing it a bit too close to reality and capturing vast swathes of land as Tsar Peter of Russia. Here, being Royalty is having the power to do whatever you want to do.

3 Dishonored 2

Empress Emily Kaldwen and Corvo Attano in Dishonored 2

Dishonored 2

Franchise
Dishonored

Platform(s)
PS4, Xbox One, PC

Genre(s)
FPS, Action

Dishonored is a great game, a showcase of how stealth games, a well-realized setting, and making you feel smarter and more powerful than everyone around you can create a great immersive sim. Also core to the games is being dishonored, thrown to the wayside to those who plot against you.

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Corvo isn’t royalty, born to a poor family and becoming Royal Protector and nothing more, but in Dishonored 2 you can play as Emily, who you could argue is the intended protagonist of the game. She has her father and her throne torn from under her and has to witness the injustices in her own kingdom to take it back.

2 Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

Evan looks upon his kingdom in Ni No Kuni 2

Despite being called Ni No Kuni 2, this is actually the fifth game in the series — though it likely should be considered the second mainline entry. Set hundreds of years after the original, Ni No Kuni 2 follows the story of the young King Evan Pettiwhisker Tildrum on a journey to reclaim his kingdom.

The game features plenty of overworld traveling and real-time combat, but where the royal responsibilities show is in the kingdom building. You must recruit citizens, build facilities and do plenty of research, all made by your own decisions. It’s a great way to show your influence on the world in a way that affects gameplay too.

1 Katamari

Opening Touch My Katamari on the PS Vita

Katamari Damacy

Platform(s)
PS4, PS2, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Stadia

Genre(s)
Action

The Katamari games are, maybe, a little unconventional in a lot of ways, and maybe not what you’d think of when imagining royalty. But then, when your father is the King of All Cosmos, and you’re the Dashing Prince of All Cosmos, you don’t quite feel fit to question. Even so, if you love rolling things until they get massive, the Katamari games are for you!

These titles play on an interesting niche, that almost instinctual desire of ‘Make Ball Big’ when rolling that it’s simply impossible to stop playing. How big can the ball get? How big until it can consume cars? Is this truly ethical? Why are you even doing this? It doesn’t matter. Because. Ball. Get. Big.

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