Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
1

Cult News

'Game of Thrones' game preview: Westeros gets a new interactive story

By
'Game of Thrones' screenshot

© Koch Media


The Game of Thrones game is a role-playing game created in close collaboration with series creator George R R Martin. The adventure provides further insight into the world of Westeros through a brand new branching story that includes established locations and characters, and features a traditional role-playing combat system.

The story runs in parallel with the events of the first book, and focuses on two new canonical characters created specially for the game; Mors, a sworn brother of the Night's Watch that comes with a faithful canine companion, and Alester, a Red Priest who returns to Westeros after a long period of absence.

In typical Game of Thrones fashion, the backstories and secrets of both characters will unravel in spectacular fashion as they wrestle their allegiances with the families of Westeros, providing further insight into the seductive and poisonous world of high-born politics.

'Game of Thrones' screenshot

© Koch Media

'Game of Thrones' screenshot

© Koch Media



Branching narrative that has far-reaching decisions

Book-style chapters see control flip back and forth between each character throughout the game, visiting iconic locations such as The Wall and King's Landing, before the duo eventually meet up and work together as the story reaches its climax.

Progression is described as more Mass Effect than Skyrim, with structured chapters that have specific goals rather than letting you wander around Westeros at will. It's through dialogue choices and their outcomes where freedom comes in, Even the smallest of choices are teased to have potential knock-on effects several chapters down the line, leading players to one of four different endings.

One example is deciding to spare a criminal instead of having him executed. By having him locked away in a dungeon, he could prove of service later on, while having him killed sees your ties with their family severed, possibly hindering progress elsewhere.

There is freedom to explore in each chapter, however. By chatting to locals and overhearing conversations, your character gains further insight into the backstory of a mission to open up more dialogue choices, while completing additional side-quests could give you more leverage and sway on how the story can unfold.

'Game of Thrones' screenshot

© Koch Media



Inspired by both the books and the show

With the game being in development for three years - sometime before the first season aired on television - its main inspirations are from the books rather than the hit HBO series, such as the aforementioned story structure down to matching the descriptions of areas like the Wall. Such details are recreated and laid out to Martin's exact specifications.

It has, however, incorporated several elements from the show to appeal to both audiences. Major characters, including Night's Watch commander Jeor Mormont to Cersei Lannister, share the same likenesses and voices as their respective actors. The show's version of the Iron Throne will make an appearance, while the title music makes the opening menu selections considerably more dramatic.

George R R Martin has worked closely with the developers to ensure a wide variety of details are right. Some are in the smallest of details - such as the colour of housemaid dresses - through to the forward thinking, with Martin advising story writers to mention or exclude specific details about certain parties that could have an impact on future unwritten books. This ensures that the game stays true to the franchise as best as possible.

'Game of Thrones' screenshot

© Koch Media

'Game of Thrones' screenshot

© Koch Media



Traditional role-playing with a tactical edge

While the timespan alongside the first book makes it an accessible entry point for newcomers and viewers of the television show, the game's combat and character progression takes a far more old-school role-playing approach.

The two central characters can be heavily customised to suit the player's own play style in combat and given a number of passive and active abilities. There are even traditional pen and paper-style strengths and weaknesses to consider, which could see your character inflicted with Grayscale in order to be balanced out with more positive aliments.

Combat features some light action elements, but is primarily a tactical affair. While you can move your character and perform simple slashes in real time, the action is best slowed to a near standstill. This lets you turn the camera, survey the battlefield and cue up a number of attacks on different enemies, which sees characters then spring to life and dole out damage as planned.

When time is slowed, a barrage of on-screen icons display further information - from the direction of arrows and planned enemy attacks down to armour types to help you better plan your own attacks.

You can be joined by other characters in combat - including Mors's trusty dog - and knowing your the combined strengths of your party could be key to surviving. If someone is specialised in causing bleed damage, for example, then investing in an attack that takes advantage of bleeding enemies would be a good idea.


Such combined attacks look to be the tip of the iceberg in terms of how deep combat and ability synergies could go, and the apparent dependence on using them means combat could be better suited towards hardened role-players than the likely mainstream, lesser game-playing Game of Thrones audience. Smartly implemented tutorials and difficulty settings could remedy this, however, and its difficult to tell how much of a barrier to entry this is without playing first.

There's also an issue of production values. While it certainly offers attention to detail and a strong dedication to the lore, middling visuals and animations could snap players out of its world very quickly. Plus, outside of the title's strong licence, it's going up against a number of similar but excellent fantasy role-playing games from recent months - from Skyrim to The Witcher 2 - giving it some tough competition.

While there are possible concerns with its level of polish, the Game of Thrones game looks to provide a faithful extension to one of the biggest fantasy franchises to emerge in recent years, while attempting to make it its own through a cleverly designed-branching story and deep combat system; it's certainly been given far more thought and dedication by developer Cyanide than the vast majority of franchise tie-ins we've seen previously.

With Game of Thrones at the peak of its popularity and the game releasing as the second show draws to a close, we imagine this will be an anticipated release come next month.

Game of Thrones will be available on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in June.

You May Like

Comments

Loading...