Game Review: Game of Thrones

As bad as movie or television-licenced games have been in the past, you’d be forgiven for anticipating the Game of Thrones RPG with some fervour. With the show’s trademark witty dialogue, racy themes and brutal, bloody violence, it could have fitted into a sweet spot between a medieval Bioware creation and From Software’s, Dark Souls, and considering how closely developer Cyanide Studio worked with author of the original ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series George RR. Martin, the premise of the game certainly looked promising.

Game of thrones - the videogame

Unfortunately, the ambition of the title isn’t quite met, and while its old-school feel might hit the spot for some classic RPG fans, it’s not enough to be memorable or considered worthy of series’ dazzlingly high standard.

Instead of being set directly in the limelight of the TV series, the player is pitched into the shoes of two different characters: a guard of the Night’s Watch named Mors Westford, and a Red Priest named Alester Sarwyck. A couple of familiar faces from the show can be seen at times, such as Joer Mormont at the Wall (complete with voice acting from original actor James Cosmo), but don’t expect to be sallying forth with Ned Stark or having drinking contests with Tyrion Lannister, as the plot stays mostly away from the events of the series.

Game of ThronesThis, unfortunately, seems to be one of the game’s pitfalls, as the plot fails to be nearly as interesting as RR. Martin’s original work, yet perhaps what it lacks in storytelling quality, it makes an attempt to make up for in quantity.

Game of Thrones tells a heck of a long tale, with most players racking up 20 to 30 hours, despite its linearity. It’s also affected, at many points, by choices the player makes, and while they’re never exactly huge game-changers, it’s a nice addition.

Presentation also isn’t a high point, with graphics that wouldn’t look great in 2007, but Game of Thrones gets quite interesting in combat. Aiming for midway between real-time and turn-based combat, the main mechanic involves slowing down time and queuing up your next attacks tactically. ‘Tactical’ really is the operative word here, since the game’s sharp difficulty will be keeping you on your toes, and forcing you to pick appropriate attacks to counter your foes’ armour and weapon types.

This clearly seems to be suited for the more hardcore crowd, however, and if you’re more into your Dragon Age or Skyrim-style bravado, this might be a little on the boring side.

I keep faith that there can be a good Game of Thrones RPG – frankly, it just suits the genre too well – but this isn’t it. It’s not controller-throwingly bad, but between its fairly stale dialogue, uninspired story and slow combat, it’s not as riveting as one might hope. Perhaps a ‘buy’ for RR. Martin anoraks wanting to soak up more lore, but for the Tom, Dick and Harry of RPG fans, it’s probably best to give this one a miss.

Published by: Focus Home Interactive
Developed by: Cyanide Studio
Platform: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Age: 15+

Henry McMunn is a games journalist who currently spends a great deal of his time listening to 50s swing, smoking cigars and watching Chris Morris satire. You can follow him on Twitter @failboatskipper

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