"Westeros Awaits You... Sort of"
In order to write a review on the new Game of Thrones video game by developer Cyanide, I had to let my fanboy-ism go. See, I have been reading George R.R. Martin's epic series since the late 90s, and I'm a huge fan of the HBO series. When I heard word of what promised to be a huge, epic, weaving RPG based on the franchise, you know I was excited. So does Game of Thrones deliver all the betrayals, twists, edginess, blood, and battle of the books / series? Well, in short, yes… however, it might not deliver it all to you exactly how you hoped.
GoT puts you into the roles of two minor characters: Mors Westford, a member of the Night's Watch (for those who know what that is) and Alester Sarwyck, a priest of R'hllor (again, for those who know what THAT is). The world of George R.R. Martin is represented fairly well here as far as mood, ambience, and story (we'll get to aesthetics later). There are plenty of interpersonal interactions and dialogue trees which will change the direction of the story in all sorts of ways.
Just as in the books / show, there is no set objective as far as morality goes. Characters are not out to be heroes (well, there are a few…); most are out to survive and accomplish personal goals set upon. For those who have read the books / watched the show, you'll know the characters are driven by their own personal desires, whether it be honor, riches, survival, comfort, power, or love. In Game of Thrones, those few who are truly noble and are out to help the world on a whole often end up… well, dead.
Even though GoT touches deeply in the world of GrrM, you don't need to be a huge fan of the books or novels to enjoy it. However, it may make you less forgiving towards the other aspects of the game… other aspects in which I had to let my fanboy-ism go in order to really feel the pain.
The first major flaw of Game of Thrones are the graphics and what seems to be lazy or rushed programming / packaging. The character models are bland, oddly designed, and overall poorly crafted. Graphics seem a bit wonky and jerky in places, music seems to randomly come and go, and overall, the world that is portrayed on the show or imagined by readers seems insanely flat and bland. There are no epic sweeping shots of cities that are full of life, or insanely beautiful lush wilderness. The maps and cities are dull and poorly designed, often making you feel like you're playing an Ultima game from the late 90s where there might be three villagers in a huge city map.
The second major flaw is the battle system. Game of Thrones is an RPG which uses a real-time battle system. Action can be slowed down, and the UI isn't too poor. However, for fans of RPGs with great battle systems, GoT will be a major let down. You'll find throughout the game, only one or two strategies are ever needed to take down just about anything. Sure, your characters have special, unique abilities, and there are a range of attacks, but most elements implemented into the battle system will barely be used once you figure out what you need in order to get the job done. Battles become yawn-inducing and repetitive, and for an RPG, this is dangerous. I actually have more fun with 8-bit Dragon Quest battles than the battles I was fighting in Game of Thrones.
So where does that leave us? The story is pretty decent, and fans of the books may enjoy it more than fans of the series, simply due to the more in-depth knowledge they have gained from the world in thousands of pages rather than a few dozen hours of television; perhaps they will understand a bit more of what is going on. People who have never seen or read Game of Thrones may enjoy it, but probably not much, as there is very little to offer outside the story, dialogue decisions, and movement of plot and characters. The most frustrating aspect of it all is that GoT shows hints of greatness. It's too bad it couldn't have been more refined, or simply redesigned those elements where it was weak in order to give us something grand.
GameDynamo's Score for Game of Thrones (PC)
Three things describe Rando: Good beer, good food, and video games. On occasion, Rando flies a zeppelin through time seeking power crystals.
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