- Great narrative
- Fans of the books/TV show might enjoy it
- Poor presentation
- Combat lacks any real depth
- Some parts are just plain boring
If you’re a fan of the TV series Game of Thrones and you’re looking at the game as an accompaniment to the series, you might want to know the TV show is only loosely connected. It instead takes inspiration from George R.R Martin’s more wordy Song of Fire and Ice series of novels, with the land of Westeros being brought to the small screen and being filled with beardy blokes swearing at each other. On second thought, it actually is a lot like the TV show then, the only difference being that it never really excels above the “average” mark.
Rather than sticking to the one protagonist, you instead alternate between two embarking on two very different quests. As the game opens, you’re introduced to Mors Westford, a guard of the Night’s Watch whose job is to protect The Wall; a giant barrier which keeps outsiders from invading the Seven Kingdoms. Of course it’s not long before you up-shop and find yourself in places such as a mysterious forest and a brothel, as you embark on a quest for a mysterious girl of which you’re tasked with protecting. On the other side of the fence there’s Red Priest Alestar Sarwyck, who returns to his old stomping ground after 15 years to find the whole town in the midst of an uprising, his sister marrying a scumbag, and his younger brother accused of murdering his dad. He also ups-shop and ends up in a different brothel. Notice any patterns here?
Lady of the night-fondling aside, the story is probably the strongest part of the game, with alliances being switched in and out more times than a week in Eastenders, and it seems that there’s always someone waiting to stab you in the back should you give them a funny look. There’s a lot of different dialogue options which mean you can turn your character into an unforgiving badass, or talk more and wave your sword less. It’s just a shame then that everything else is marred by less-than-impressive execution.
The characters themselves are so wooden and emotionless that every scene resembles that of a funeral, and as far as the voice acting goes, I’ve seen more enthusiasm on the News at Ten. There’s the odd bit of wit thrown into the mix, but the delivery is so poor you’re tasked with trying to pick out what’s meant to come across as funny from the other 90% of the dialogue. And despite a coherent story, the conversations and cut-scenes go on for far too long most of the time, with too much unnecessary waffle and not enough in the way of actual battling.
The combat itself is in the same style as Dragon Age, asking you to queue up attacks which are executed over time. While on the lower difficulty you can get away with spamming your regular attacks on most occasions, with little need for anything else, higher difficulties require a bit more tact. Mors has a dog a as a companion which you can use to stagger enemies by taking a nip of their legs, and Alestar has the skill of setting people on fire. As you gain XP by winning battles and completing quests, you unlock new abilities in the skill tree, which open up your attacking arsenal further and further. Not only that, but you can choose what your specialist type of weapon is by distributing your points in different areas too, be it blades, hammers, or the slightly more wimpy bow and arrow.
The trouble is, it seems that all the battles come down to is recycling the same strategies. All you really need to do is use your more powerful attacks on the single, stronger enemies, and work on staggering/using group damaging moves on bigger numbers of baddies. What that means is that around half of your skill set need never be touched, and it makes battles turn to tedium quickly when they could be something more.
When you’re not talking or (occasionally) fighting, you can take the time to play as Mors’ dog and sniff out scents. It’s a bit like a rubbish version of the PS2’s “A Dog’s Life”, but it’s a welcome distraction and can help scout out hostile enemies and catch them by surprise with a chewing of the throat. Alestar’s equivalent is the ability to scan areas for secrets via the power of fire, which isn’t nearly as interesting, and to find non-essential secrets requires you to use the power seemingly randomly. And that gets old fast.
Game of Thrones is by no means a bad RPG, but you just get the feeling that it could’ve been so much more. An interesting narrative is bogged down by lifeless characters, poor presentation, and a combat system that doesn’t really have the depth to match what it could’ve potentially offered. What we instead have is a passable game that fans of the books and TV show will probably enjoy, but for everyone else it’s just a game that’s been bettered at least a dozen times in the genre this generation already.