Game of Thrones

5.8 Overall Score

Excellent story

Poor voice acting | Mundane graphics

Written by on June 7, 2012 in [, , , , , , , , ]

The Game of Thrones video game is based on the best-selling series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, and uses some elements of the HBO series based on the same books, like the music and some of the likenesses of the actors from the television series. Right about there is where the similarities stop. This isn’t a replay of the story from the books or the show, this is an independent story of events happening in Westeros shortly before and during the events of the first book.

This game doesn’t delve into the stories of the Starks, or Baratheons, or even the Lannisters (although they’re more indirectly involved). This game takes you into the lives of two men, one from the Night’s Watch and the other from the town of Riverspring. Initially their stories start in different places and times, so each chapter trades off between until later in the story when their paths cross.

Mors Westford is introduced first. A veteran ranger with the Night’s Watch, tasked often times to venture out beyond the wall to see what is happening with the wildlings, and sometimes to bring back deserters from the Wall. Mors has a strong loyalty to his oath and has bitter disregard for those that abandon their honor as you’ll see right away in the game. Character customization is very minimal. You can upgrade basic things like strength, intelligence, agility, etc., however, the chain of skills you learn is mapped out and you can side with one strength or another at the beginning but eventually the whole tree should be filled out as the story progresses.

After the initial chapter, we go back in time to a few months before current day and meet Alester Sarwyck who is finally returning to his home Riverspring after a 15 year absence after receiving word that his father, Lord Sarwyck, has died. All is not well in the town of Riverspring as Alester’s younger brother has gone missing, accused of possibly murdering their father, and his sister has been betrothed to their own half-brother, Valarr by the Queen. Alester returns from the free cities across the narrow sea having become a red priest of the flame god R’hllor. Almost everything after that is spoiler territory for the story, so we’ll leave it there for now.

Combat play is heavily inspired by, or outright borrowed from, other RPG games of late like Mass Effect and Dragon Age with the “active pause” mechanic that brings up a circular option menu to use special attacks, or to access your flasks which store your liquids like healing potions, poisons, or combustible materials (for Alester). Using a special attack requires a certain amount of energy, which usually limits you to chaining two or sometimes three special attacks together. After that, you have to wait for the energy meter to slowly refill, or press a button (x) to instantly recharge it. The instant recharge is then disabled for 20 seconds. For an RPG it’s pretty much the standard hack, smash and slash by default unless you tell your character to do something else, otherwise, the battle mechanic pretty much runs on its own.

Unlike top notch RPGs, Game of Thrones is probably one of the most linear stories I’ve played in a while. It doesn’t have the “sandbox” freedom as many other games of this genre, and for an RPG, it’s almost on rails. There are some sidequests to take on, but not that many, some you complete as you progress throughout most of the game, and others “expire” once you get too far into the store, some as quick as moving on to the next chapter. Now, since the game is based around another story that has specific hard points in time to follow, it’s understandable that the events in the game have to transpire in a particular order, but this game leads you by the nose almost a little too much. You cannot travel throughout the realm of Westeros, you can only “fast travel”, to borrow a term from The Elder Scrolls, from one town to another. You can instantly move from King’s Landing to the Wall with no trouble. No experience, and no coin along the way, either.

In the sound department, well, the music is good. Mostly because they used music from the HBO series and variations of that soundtrack. In the voice acting department, well, it’s not good. A lot of the dialog sounds overly forced, it kind of sounded like what they were really saying underneath was, “I’m TRYING to sound like this is urgent!” With the exception of Varys, voiced by the real-life actor from the show, Conleth Hill, most of the other characters sound bad. Even Lord Commander Mormont sounds odd at times. One especially bad moment comes much later in the game when Alester is talking and for some strange reason, the voice changes and sounds more like the character Valarr instead. Perhaps the same person voiced both roles and forgot who he was for a moment.

You’ll travel to many familiar places from the books, King’s Landing, the Wall, and… oh wait, that’s about it. Riverspring and Castlewood are prominent in the story, but I don’t recall those towns being pivotal in the books. Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve read them. But travel to Winterfell, Casterly Rock, through the Twins, or even the Eyrie are not part of the game, so your exposure to the world of Game of Thrones is quite limited.

As I got deeper into the game, it began to feel better overall, almost as if you have to just get used to the quirks and then you can just enjoy the story. Some things would jar you out of it, like enemies falling in walls, doors opening and passing through you, horrid character and costume design on the whores, and just mundane repetition in character design (like the blacksmiths all look the same), and battle. The story is very good, and I definitely began to enjoy the game more as I got deeper into it, eager to find out what happens next and ultimately to the two heroes.

For those that have not read the books, or are not very vested into the TV series, you should probably skip this game, too much is referenced to the main storyline that it doesn’t make any sense to those who don’t know who Eddard Stark, or Jon Snow, or Tywin Lannister are; But for fans of the series, if RPGs are your cup of tea, then this game might be worth a shot. Just don’t expect to be dazzled by anything in the game.

A copy of Game of Thrones was provided to TMG for the purpose of review.


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Author: Erik Johnsen View all posts by
A married gamer that spends time editing many of the articles you read right here at The Married Gamers. Erik sometimes reviews Xbox One games and writes articles, but spends his available free time from work or hanging out with his family hunting achievements for a higher gamerscore.

One Comment on "Game of Thrones"

  1. Loren Nikkel June 7, 2012 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    Very well written. Lauren and I will stay away from this game now. 😉

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