“When you play the game of Thrones you win or you die…” – Ceresi Lannister
Or in this case, you might want to kill yourself.
Cyanide studios brings us The Game of Thrones and a taste of George R.R. Martin’s amazing world. Rather than adapting the novels, Cyanide has created its own original story that parallels the events in the series.
We begin our dark (very dark) journey just south of the Wall, as Mors and his dog hunt down a deserter of the Night’s Watch. Mors is a Ranger of the Night’s Watch dubbed “The Butcher” for his atrocious acts during the war. He was forced from his wife and daughter and sent to the Wall as punishment for betrayal of his lord. When he’s not knitting, hunting down deserters, and killing white walkers, he is entangled in a thorny mission for the Hand of the King.
As Mors’s story unfolds we are introduced to our second hero, Alester, returning to his home after a 15-year sabbatical and now a red priest. He returns to find his home in chaos after his father’s untimely demise. He’s beset upon by a host of problems, revolts, incestuous marriages, and bloodshed…lots of bloodshed, to name a few.
The game is fraught with interesting characters (although don’t get too attached to anyone that you find endearing in any way).
The story parallels actual events in A Song of Fire and Ice. Both readers and watchers of the series will find the story entertaining and even those new to the world can play without missing anything.
Attributes and skills abound = Lots of micro managing.
The bright spot of the character creation was choosing Strengths and Weaknesses. Your traits must balance—for instance, if you are more agile in battle you may not be very strong. The options were the only fun part of the character creation and reminded me a lot of my pen and paper RPG days playing Dark Heresy. My version of Mors, for instance, had a fondness for and grew rather excited to see an enemy bleed, and was quick on his feet with a vicious ability to gouge enemies. On the flipside, he was a terrible people person with severe allergies, a collapsed lung, and gout. What a hottie.
Three battle actions are given at a time. Slowing combat, you can then pick out your next three moves. Don’t expect a lot of fast action, as you are constantly slowing the game to process your next moves. Also, you can tab between and play as other members of your party to strategize.
Another neat choice in the game is the use of Mors’s dog. Using the Skinchanger ability, you are put directly in the paws of your pet. You can track and hunt down a deserter, for instance, by learning their scent. Your prey’s smell wafts in the air as a hazy colored cloud that only you follow.
Armor and weapons are the only way to create an original looking character, and the options are decent and plentiful.
The game is very story intensive and your character’s interaction will prompt quest outcomes and offerings. Although you can trudge ahead on the main storyline there are a slew of side quests available. You are given a good selection of chat options which will influence your progression.
Actual characters from the HBO series lend a voice to the narration. Some familiar visages even drop into the story. Most voice acting was OK, some really grating and some unintentionally humorous. Mors’s voice was a bit harsh. Someone please get the guy a cough drop. I couldn’t help but giggle while this gruff warrior wandered in the dark forest looking for a lost recruit while continuously asking where Poddy was. I can’t find Poddy!
The world Cyanide created was dark and depressing. Literally, dark as in I had a hard time even seeing who I was fighting or speaking to throughout the game.
Animation was flawed with choppiness, intermingled with awkward animations and clipping galore. Issues aside, the graphics are passable. What bothered me most though were the overly large hands. That really had me on edge. Seriously, no one should have hands that big!
Canned battle sounds and gurgled death rattles were packaged with some of the music from the HBO series.
A good but not great story deadened with mediocre and repetitive gameplay. There isn’t really anything that stands out as particularly original.
Complicated fighting and leveling of characters makes the experience a bit of a drag. The more I played, the easier the fights were… too easy. It became repetitive and the battles became less of a challenge and more of a nuisance in my quest to see completion of the story. Too many skill points and action options really were not needed.
When the only bright spot in the game is seeing a truly despicable character meet a gruesome end you know you might need a break.
If you love the series it is cool to see some of the story elements, but you will probably find you are forcing yourself through the gameplay for just that purpose.
With a grim 15 to 20 hours of a somewhat entertaining story, and at a price tag of $59.99, you might want to wait until it’s on sale, or pass.