A romance game that feels like playing a Jane Austen novel

If you've ever wanted to experience the romance, gossip, and tragic social misunderstandings of an Austen heroine, Regency Love is a visual novel made just for you.

Set in the Regency era of England—the late 1700s to the mid 1800s—the game casts you in the role of a young woman of marrying age in a small English town called Darlington. Although you come from a respectable family, your father has passed on, and you feel increasing pressure from your mother to marry soon—and marry well. You can, of course, have your own ideas about it means to marry well, especially as you meet the eligible bachelors of Darlington: the dashing lieutenant Mr. Graham, the intellectual, introspective Mr. Curtis, and the handsome but troubled Mr. Ashcroft.

Your primary choices in the game revolve around dialogue options; the way you speak to other people not only defines your relationships to them, but defines you, by adding to your score for various character traits. Will you be frivolous or sensible? Witty or vulgar? Compassionate or cutting?

It's not all melodrama, however. You'll also have the chance to take tea with townsfolk, go shopping at the haberdashery with your friends, or even play matchmaker for other couples in Darlington. Through the game, you'll also be quizzed both on the social etiquette of the era and Jane Austen novels themselves; correct answers yield "motivation points" that can be channeled into the skills most valued in a lady of your station: practicing the piano, embroidering, painting, and dancing.

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Regency Love was created by Samantha Lin, Jenny Tan, and Melody Wang of Tea for Three Studios, three women inspired not only by their love of Jane Austen, but also a far more modern tale of intrigue and romance: Dragon Age.

As the team explains on their webpage, "we were (re-)playing Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2, and thought, 'Hey, why not replace the darkspawns with chickens and Alistair/Zevran/Fenris/Anders with versions of Mr. Darcy/Mr. Knightley/Colonel Brandon/Captain Wentworth?' And so we did."

Although the chickens ultimately became an impossibly wise and maybe slightly telepathic cat, the game otherwise holds fairly true to their vision. Although the original game was released in 2013, they recently launched a new version that also allows players to buy an additional, all-new story as well.

Regency Love is available for $4.99 on iOS, and with around 150,000 words of writing throughout its various paths, feels substantial enough to justify the price.

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