Lace up your corset, learn your best ballroom steps and get your Mr. Darcy poster back on the wall. It's time for Regency Solitaire, the game that is the second most unlikely mash-up involving costume drama after Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Coming seemingly out of nowhere from dynamic duo Grey Alien Games, the very idea of Regency Solitaire has to be marvelled at. A costume drama plot involving Bella, whose family fortunes are fading, a dashing love interest who is potentially out of her league, and a wily neighbour is resolved through multiple rounds of solitaire, each one more fiendish than the last.
This is not your granny's solitaire, oh no. The card layouts are deliberately designed to be tricky on the eye, there are power-ups to be collected, goals to be reached and hidden objects to be found! Some stages require a certain amount of face cards to be removed before piles of cards are unlocked, and getting the full three star rating for clearing all the cards can be a real challenge. Chuck in a combo multiplier system and joker cards and you have a 19th century solitaire for the 21st century!
Between rounds the story advances (will the handsome new neighbour fall for Bella? Will her brother's careless gambling put love forever out of her reach?!) and thanks to money won through solitaire Bella can purchase upgrades to her family home and outfit (a wig for the footman, a lovely new fan and more!) that confer advantages while playing.
After playing for fifteen solid hours, I can honestly say that Regency Solitaire got to me in a way that few games have recently. Challenging, relaxing and satisfying in equal measure, the game managed to keep my attention for long periods of time, and it's definitely one of those 'oh, just one more go' type experiences that helps pass a dreary English morning. It's an odd concept, sure, but it works a treat. It's simple, it's addictive, and it should definitely be on your radar. It's so good in fact that I am willing to forgive the fact that the Regency period was probably finished before solitaire became popular in the UK.
In an ideal world, two things would now happen: Microsoft would replace their dusty old versions of solitaire with this one, and the BBC would commission a six-part Sunday evening series starring Helena Bonham-Carter and Colin Firth. One can dream, right?