If you could control a kingdom, would you be a benevolent ruler—one that feeds the people and pays for luxuries for your kingdom? Or, would you want to tax a circus, and sponsor a shifty character that steals from your citizens?
Sort the Court is a tinderlike simulation game by Graeme Borland, where you play the role of a king or queen, ruling over a cute and whimsical kingdom, deciding whether to approve or reject the whims of townspeople. But be careful, each decision has a cost—everything you do earns or loses you citizens, happiness, or coins.
Throughout your regime, you meet a delightful array of citizens seeking your assistance. Chester, a wooden chest, is hexed to eat humans repeatedly, and eventually seeks your help to have the hex removed. Miriam and her owl, Albert, are wanderers, and share some stories with you before going on their way. You’ll encounter Yarno, an advisor to the king of the Comfy Kingdom, followed immediately by Button Boy, who tells you that they’ re actually the real advisor to the king. You’ll also get drop-ins from Boots the cat, who always wants to be scratched.
As your kingdom grows, you face new challenges. Following a dragon attack, you have to fund your blacksmith so they can smith a blade—the dragonslayer—to kill a dragon which has stolen from your kingdom. Later your decisions involve intermediating in quibbles between other nearby nations, like a conflict over marshland.
And, hey, I know how hard it can get for a modern ruler sometimes. In order to build a new, ornate town square—undoubtedly the best use of money—I did have to steal some coins from my citizens to make ends meet.
However, some of the game can get repetitive. I was nicknamed “The Creep King” by Lil’ Fang time and time again, while I was waiting for actual story progression decisions. But, there’s enough to the game that you’ll keep with it and pattern match; when you recognize someone frequently returning, you’ll just jab
n, and send them on their merry way.
Amy Gerardy produced some excellent art for this game. The characters are delightfully realized, and the evolving backdrop as your kingdom grows is beautiful. The background music, by Bogdan Rybak, is chill and whimsical. It reminds me of the main menu music for Life is Strange—something uplifting that you can listen to on a loop for hours.
If you enjoy a “ruler simulation” game like Reigns (a game like Sort the Court, a close spiritual cousin perhaps), you’ll surely appreciate Sort the Court. It’s available in-browser, or for Windows, Mac, and Linux, on itch.io.