RPG Index: Single player Role Playing Games

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Game of Thrones

I bet there's quite a few of you out there who didn't even know the Game of Thrones (GoT) RPG existed. Well, it does. Unfortunately, by gaming standards it doesn't hold a candle to other titanic and better developed RPGs. Fortunately, it's GoT. When a game has inherently bad mechanics but an untapped well of lore from one of the greatest book franchises in existence, it's really difficult to see how it will all turn out in the end.

Mors and his fellow watchmen at the wall.

Genre: Action, RPG
Release Date: 15th May 2012
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Score: 4/10
Similar Titles: Star Wars: KotoR, Neverwinter Nights, Risen

Alester spends more time in political environments.

It pains me to give a bad review to a part of my favorite television series, but I can't lie about the Game of Thrones RPG being a step behind the rest of the market. I believe the problem lies with Cyanide, the developers. They aren't known for making role-playing games, and their successes are limited to sports related titles. Cyanide hasn't produced a disgraceful product yet, but they are limited by mediocrity. My personal opinion is they don't take enough time to finish what they started, but that's up to debate.

The combat looks pretty good, shame it isn't. Mors is still badass.

After playing the game halfway through I'd say the Game of Thrones RPG turned out mediocre at best. On one hand there's godawful issues like a bad inventory and just an annoying interface in general. On the other hand, there's a story that starts off slow and then when you finally raise your hand with derision into the air and think 'fuck this shit'; you realize that the bastard sunk his hooks into you and you have no choice but to keep on playing until you find out how the story ends. It's a challenge to make it past the first couple of hours, because the plot begins out pretty weak. The only gamers I can imagine wholeheartedly loving this title are Game of Thrones junkies and younger individuals. Good thing I'm the former, but I'm trying to be unbiased here.

The game takes place during the early books, and the story unfolds alongside the major events that we know and love from the television series. Instead of playing a single protagonist, your perspective shifts between two characters in Northern Westeros. Mors Westford is an experienced member of the Night's Watch, tasked with hunting down deserters and other crude jobs. Alester Sarwyck is the second main character, a Red Priest returning from overseas for his father's funeral. As you reach pivotal points in the plot, the game will switch to the other character.

Beef on.
The combat is finicky. That's the best word for it. When fighting an enemy you basically do nothing except watch your character hit and get hit back in typical boring RPG fashion. The only decision you really have to make are deciding which target to attack first, because they have different armor types. Depending on which class you chose at the beginning for Mors and Alester, you get a couple of uninteresting abilities that usually put out a bit of damage. Sadly, that's about as deep as the combat system gets in Game of Thrones. There's no enchanting, no unique crafting, and upgrading gear is never a trade off. You get a new shiny epic and it's better than your old one. Ultimately, this game feels like a film with some hastily tacked on gaming mechanics.

With barely any side quests or even areas to farm money and loot, there's no real need to try and collect everything. Sometimes you will find an expensive weapon or piece of equipment that you want, but you never know if you will be able to grind enough money in time to purchase it. That's all fine, because the combat is something you don't want to keep experiencing anyway. I made the mistake of choosing the archer class for Alester, and the game never let me forget it. Don't even try it, trust me. It's like being equipped with a plastic tube instead of a weapon.

The dialogue is pretty basic, but there are a few consequences for your actions.

I feel like Cyanide put in a lot of effort into this game. They probably knew that the combat system was flawed and slow paced. So they decided to focus on delivering a fantastic story and plot instead. That's the only possible explanation for the annoying UI and shoddy quests. Hell, half the voice actors sound like drunk homeless people dragged in off the street. At some points in the game you are forced to use the dog that belongs to Mors Westford. This minigame was nothing more than a huge annoyance, wandering around areas you've already explored to search for scents and loot.

Honestly, I'm quite torn between liking and hating the Game of Thrones game. On one hand, it's a part of the Game of Thrones universe nobody has explored yet. On the other, it's an unpolished game that doesn't do justice to the godlike franchise that it came from. You get to be up on the wall, a gigantic barrier that keeps all of the uncivilized people and monsters from the cities of Westeros. But it's not delivered in an epic fashion. You don't feel like you're on the wall guarding the world from white walkers and some of the scariest and dangerous creatures alive. It just feels like another snow area just like every other RPG.

You usually have a party member or two on hand, but not always.

I have read every book and watched every episode from Game of Thrones so far. I was really excited to play the game, even after reading the disappointed reviews. It did let me down in several ways, because aside from watching cutscenes and reading about lore from the GoT universe: when you actually started playing it felt like a chore. I ploughed my way through the enemies, to reveal the next piece of story. What frustrates me is everything this RPG needs to be good is there. If this game had been polished and tweaked for another year, it would of been equal to Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and all the best titles out there. Not to mention the rich universe of lore that would of pushed it ahead of the competition entirely. I'm not sure if the developers at Cyanide lacked the budget or were just lazy, but they could of produced something amazing.

If you're interested in playing this title as a game, think again. Sure, the combat and the exploration is passable; but nobody buys a video game because it's passable. They buy it because it's exemplary in some element. I would only recommend the Game of Thrones RPG to someone who has exhausted the franchise, someone who just wants more. The only other exception would be if you're running dangerously low on games to play.

The reason I gave this game 4 out of 10 was because the part of this title that involves playing a video game sucked. The plot however, is easily an 8 out of 10. Just keep that in mind.

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