Game of Thrones RPG, or just Game of Thrones, is a game set in Westeros. A world developed by George R.R. Martin to set his fantasy genre novel into. It is a world full of interesting characters, events, scenery, etc. In other words, a perfect place to roll yourself into and start role-playing. This is why the surging popularity of Game of Thrones, which can be attributed to the development of HBO’s original series, has led to the development of multiple games. All of this leads us to the Game of Thrones, not the TV series, not the books, but the game.
First of all, we would like to state that naming a game exactly what the book and TV series is called makes things a bit difficult. As a rule of thumb, we will refer to the video game instance as a Game of Thrones RPG in this article.
A completely new story
Game of Thrones RPG doesn’t retell a story seen before. It is a totally unique experience for everyone loving the franchise. The game’s story happens during the development of events that happen in the books and TV series. It is an interesting experience. Unfortunately, that is all that it is. The game revolves around two different characters, Alester Sarwyck and Mors Westford. They are both unique and have no mentions in the films or books. The story begins with Alester returning to his place of birth, Riverspring, after 15 years of self-imposed exile after his father’s passing, who was the ruling lord of the place. Due to that last part, Alester should already be treated as a lord right? Nope. How else would we have a story if everything was nice and dandy?
As it happens his bastard brother, Valaar, has taken the ruler’s place and stands between him and the power bestowed upon Alester due to his bloodline. The city falls into disarray as Alester and Valaar are wrestling their influence over the lord’s seat.
Mors is a brother at arms of Night’s Watch. He calls the Wall his home and the Watch is the only family he has. He was sent to the wall due to the disobedience of orders during the war which has led to Robert Baratheon taking the Iron Throne. He is one of the most truthful warriors of the Night’s Watch who tries to fulfill his sacred oath to the full extent. However, this all changes when new orders arrive tasking him to protect a mysterious woman as she travels to the southern lands.
Both of the characters exhibit a strong moral compass. For Alester the good tidings for his family and people are of utmost importance. This is shown by his catering to Queen Cersei’s bidding. He is the character always focusing on the concept of the “greater good” stating numerous times to himself that if he goes along with his pride the end can soon come and it won’t be just his skin on the line. Mors, on the other hand, is a bit different. He has a very strict moral code and stands by it even if it means his death. This is why he never kneels for Queen Cersei and takes the punishment with pride.
However, as a player, one is not morally locked to either one of the options. If you would like to go and be aggressive towards a prostitute in the Mole’s Town she may not give you the needed information but you are allowed to act as you wish. In the meantime, if the villager sees that you are a pushover, they will do their best to convince you to avoid their punishment for misdemeanors. As a true RPG, the player is presented with multiple-choice dialogue options, which lead to different reactions from different NPCs. The world has a weird way of reacting to your decisions although ever so slightly. The alliances forged during the gameplay are hard to forge and hard to dismantle. Thus, the choice is up to a player who needs to be cautious of their decisions. There are five different endings all based on the decisions taken in the last chapter. However, the biggest impact is during the adventure as some of the decisions will result in the characters being present or absent from events that have game-changing powers.
The Game of Thrones RPG stays close to the world George R.R. Martin has created ever so slightly deviating but still keeping within the frames of the story. Unfortunately, some of these deviations will be sticking out like a sore thumb for people who are meticulous in their knowledge of Westeros. It is worth noting that these will not push you out of the role-playing aspect and break reality too much though. One always needs to compromise some aspects of the story to make sure that the game behaves like what it is – a game. The gameplay needs to be fun and involving. This means that there should be standard possibilities available to the player. For example, while there is a wild assortment of armors and weapons for the player some decisions are still up to you and may not make any sense in the story perspective. For example, wearing a Lannister cloak while playing with Alester is not going to be the most delicate depiction of the story. Apart from this, street vendors sell a lot of materials that otherwise would not be present in their inventory like wildfires for example.
Pros & Cons
The story is easily the strongest side of this game. It is involving and interesting and is done well enough to not interfere with other major events going on in books. Although, a lot of characters fall short of being a normal human being. The main characters are developed but dialogue options for a lot of others are lacking, to say the least. The main cast is well made and the supporting characters are inconsistent. The dialogue is good most of the time though and the villains have quite a bit of personality behind them making the endeavor interesting for the player. Valaar, for example, is an extremely well crafted NPC. He has a thirst for power due to his bastard status and is willing to do everything to make sure he keeps his acquired powers. This is why he is currying up to Queen Cersei. His cocky personality makes the player desire the moment when it is possible to just straight up to end him.
The issue with the game itself is the game part. Unfortunately, while the story is good enough for the player to be involved everything around it is not. The graphics are quite dated, the combat is wonky and boring as well as extremely overwhelming at the start due to the sheer number of things to keep in mind it throws at you in the tutorial level. Even though the player is flooded with different effects and choices during combat like which weapon to use against heavy armor, bleed effects, etc. everything becomes trivial at the end. It is just a game of applying an effect and following through with the weapon that works with said effect.
One thing that Game of Thrones RPG does well is the total absence of fetch quests. These are replaced with different side jobs like listening to a group of felons and then deciding if they are to be punished or released. The world, unfortunately, feels small due to the fact that the player doesn’t actively explore it. To be fair, there’s not much to explore as well. The story fast travels the protagonist whenever necessary and while once you reach the area you are free to do what you wish it’s still extremely limiting and mostly uninteresting.
The visual side is disappointing as well. While Westeros is full of places to see and admire the game does a poor job with its dated engine and bland graphics that are just plain bad even for the time it was released in. The game became available in 2011, however, it looks like something that was made in 2006. There is a very limited amount of NPCs everywhere you go. Answer this to yourself: do 2 trees make a forest? Because if you ask Game of Thrones RPG 4 peasants make an angry crowd.
Game of Thrones is worth playing only for the story. It demands from the player to overlook a lot of other issues with the game itself and thus makes the whole experience a serious lackluster. This is sad due to the simple fact that there is a good story hidden in this experience.