Game of Thrones is an RPG made by Cyanide Studio and was released back in 2012 to not much fanfare. At first glance, it looks like a typical low-budget title cashing in on something popular outside of gaming, and by the visuals, it clearly is – budget that is. Even so, this game after a comprehensive play-through is fantastic, a true hidden gem in my opinion. It’s based on the TV series with the same name and does interact with it in minor ways – which adds to the enjoyment if you followed the show back in the day.
You get to play as the two protagonists, Mors Westford and Alester Sarwyck. Both with their own background, interests, and agenda. At first, you play them separated from each other, taking turns going from chapter to chapter, but eventually, their stories intertwine in dramatic ways.
Mors is a man that has spent the last 15 years of his life at the wall, protecting the lands from wildlings and others. Both respected and feared by the locals and his brothers in black, he is a man of great stature and wisdom. But one thing leads to another, and eventually, your adventure takes you away from the cold in the north.
Alester, a nobleman coming back from exile, returns to a land filled with turmoil after his father died. A man for long seen as having abandoned his duty to the house of Sarwyck, now forced to rule and clear his family name. Many are happy with him being back, but some view him as a traitor.
This is an excellent setup and the main characters for this superb RPG adventure will take you all over Westeros. The narrative is filled with twists and turns, with realistically written people fitting the backdrop the game is set in. The storyline is great, and when I say it’s great, I mean, it has the quality of the books, and the TV show (the first couple of seasons). Usually, when I praise a story, I mean it’s entertaining and works for the medium. I’m not expecting Nobel Prize-winning literature here, I’m expecting something that fits the theme of the game, something plausible, something that makes sense, and it has to make me eager to continue playing. Game of Thrones, though – it knocks it out of the park! Besides qualifying for game-writing, it’s superbly well-written, with excellent characters and with a narrative that leaves nothing to chance. The game is fairly long too, but the writing still keeps the same caliber throughout, which is impressive. The twists aren’t of the cheap kind either, they actually make sense in the story – so there is no bullshit in it just to “subvert your expectations” which is so popular nowadays.
I wish I could talk more about the story, but if I continue I’m going to spoil something, which I don’t want to do. You, dear reader, just have to trust me here, you won’t be disappointed if you have any interest in Game of Thrones, and RPGs in general. The only thing that saddens me is that this magnificent story never got the chance it deserved.
The game in itself is pretty linear, with quest-hubs where you get to talk to folks, and do side-quests. Very classic RPG design in the form of Dragon Age: Origins, and Knights of the Old Republic, which to me is the preferable way to do it instead of having a bloated open-world setting. That is not all that is similar to those two games, however. When you are in combat you order your main character, and eventual followers to attack enemies with 3 action slots you can queue up however you want. For example; drink a potion, use a standard attack, or use special talent. Some talents have great synergies with each other, so it’s fun to combine and try out different combos for that ultimate take-down. When I started to play, I went with normal difficulty mode but quickly changed to the hardest setting. It was a bit on the easy side at first, but the hard difficulty setting called Lord felt perfect. Some fights are tough and had me reloading a couple of times before victory. It never got frustrating for me since I really enjoyed the game, and the combat, while not being extravagant, is fun regardless.
Being an RPG, you gain experience and level up for deeds completed. There are many different classes to pick from, so your main characters are not set in stone talent-wise. There is a talent tree to unlock, and each class has a corresponding best approach to weapons and armor. You are free to pick and choose, but I would recommend sticking with what you picked in the beginning, otherwise, I think the game can get pretty hard with you falling behind the difficulty curve.
The visuals might not be the best, but I think the studio made great use of the Unreal 3 engine. Some areas do look a bit drab, but other locations look great and are full of colors. Characters, weapons, and armor I also think look favorable, perhaps not from a technical viewpoint observed with a modern eye, but I find it all very charming – a throwback from the mid-2000s and later. Music is very Game of Thrones, with its TV theme on the menu. It works and fits the setting, even if random tracks get stuck in weird loops at times, making the music a minor annoyance in places. General sounds seem fine, but what stands out is the voice acting. While some NPCs have lower-quality voice work, all the main characters have excellent voice acting, especially Mors. There are also a couple of actors returning to voice their characters from the show, which is a plus.
In general, the presentation is satisfactory, and the gameplay is engaging, but what makes it all stand out as said above is the wonderfully written story. Game of Thrones has become one of my favorite RPGs since playing it. I thought the game would be entertaining, but I didn’t think it would be of this quality. Especially not for what I paid for it, since I got it for measly 2-3 euros a few years ago. The reason I played it now was that I was looking for a nice RPG to play. I noticed it in my Steam library, thought I would give it a go, and I’m really glad I did! Maybe you also have this game in your library, collected from some random gaming bundle, and if you do, I highly recommend giving it a chance. Or just buy it straight up, because it’s easily worth the 15 bucks it cost nowadays.
Thanks for reading.