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The Swift, Meaningful Opening Sequence of “Yes, Your Grace”

Recently, I played a couple of hours of Yes, Your Grace, the role-playing strategy game developed by Brave At Night and published by No More Robots in 2020. While the game charmed me for a variety of reasons, its opening sequence impressed me in particular.

Straight to the point, I believe the first minutes of Yes, Your Grace introduce the player to the core loop of the game and its main theme while throwing a huge, engaging hook into the main narrative at the same time. This is brilliant execution, in my opinion.

I will discuss my point in detail in the next paragraphs. Be aware that you will find minor spoilers regarding the beginning of Yes, Your Grace.

Declaration of Intent and First Petitioner

Remember what is important (credits: Brave At Night and No More Robots)

Before the game even starts, the developers explicitly share with the player the main point of the experience: to make tough decisions. It is a declaration of intent, and I found it similar to running a Session 0 before a TTRPG campaign. It is very explicit but also minimal and helps set the player’s expectations.

Late petitioners are welcome (credits: Brave At Night and No More Robots)

Immediately after, we find ourselves in the throne room of the Kingdom of Davern. The main character, King Eryk, sits alone on his throne when our counselor, Audry, comes to announce that everything is ready. As King Eryk, we stand up, put on our crown, and leave the room.

The game starts in medias res, with the castle being under siege and King Eryk preparing to lead the defense. The context, the names, and the events I quoted in the previous paragraph are exposed to the player through minimal dialogue or items of interest’s description.

Through this small sequence, we are introduced to the first half of its main core loop: listening to petitioners. Interestingly, it is actually a subversion of what will come next since the castle is under siege and Audry wants nothing from us.

To the Castle Wall and the Deserter

The Castle of Darven as an easily navigable map (credits: Brave At Night and No More Robots)

After leaving the throne room, we find ourselves on the Castle Map. Through the game, we will often be asked to explore the various locations of the castle in order to speak to different characters. Right now, we have only one location we can travel to: the Castle Wall.

There is only one location we can move to, but it is enough to introduce us to this secondary yet recurring part of the game loop (that is, moving to a different location to unlock content and progress the story).

What will be of poor Sobik? (credits: Brave At Night and No More Robots)

At the Castle Wall, King Eryk finds his general and a handful of soldiers holding down a prisoner. The latter, soldier Sobik, tried to hide from the battle and must face judgment as a deserter. As King Eryk, the player can spare Sobik and reassure him or kill him in front of the other soldiers as a crude warning.

Here, Yes, Your Grace exposes the second half of its main game loop: taking binary, tough, high-stake decisions. Right from the start, the player holds the life of a person in their hands and can either give it back or ruthlessly take it.

A Meaningful Choice in Less than Five Minutes

The choice felt meaningful to me, even though I had just started the game. In fact, Yes, Your Grace took great care in establishing tension and conflict through its first minutes by exposing simple yet broad concepts:

  • you are the king, hence you have great responsibility (in fact, the battle cannot even commence without you);
  • there is a battle against a huge army about to start;
  • a soldier tried to flee, and this could impact how the rest of the army will fight: it is your responsibility to act.

So, what will you do? Spare Sobik or kill him? No matter your choice (funny expression considering this is a choice-based game), you then climb the wall and open the battle either rallying your troops or ordering your archers to shoot arrows (you can even surrender and end the game immediately).

And that’s all. Who are the assailants? How did you end up under siege? How does the battle end? You will find these answers only by playing Yes, Your Grace in its entirety. Or you can put up a white flag and watch a walkthrough of the game.

Your choice, Your Grace.

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