Whether or not you fall for this digital interpretation of the first season of HBO’s Game Of Thrones – which is also shaped by the dark’n’sexy action in George RR Martin’s first A Song Of Ice And Fire novel – depends on what you want most from this fantasy experience.
For fans of the books and TV show, the game plot – which follows the fortunes of two new characters, but touches on events that’ll be familiar to the Game Of Thrones hardcore – is consistent with the series’ brutal world, and gives entertaining insight into events outside the well-trodden plot strands. The game narrative, which can change direction depending on the decisions you make and lead to five different endings, is also perfectly in tune with its source material, and offers tales of betrayal, murder and illicit scheming that will delight fans, and make the game feel like a bona fide extension of the beloved medieval epic.
From a gaming perspective, though, Game Of Thrones is a mess. Despite being gifted with a vibrant world in which to set the action, game developers Cyanide have created a bland, grey, boring medieval landscape to explore, further tainted by jerky animations, muddy colours and empty city streets that lack the hustle, bustle and intrigue fans have come to expect. The combat – which, on the surface, is extraordinarily complex – is blighted by a handful of cheesy moves that allow even the most cack-handed player to bumble their way through most skirmishes, and is made worse by the fact your computer-controlled opponents are embarrassingly thick, with archers often stopping to fire arrows when they’re standing toe-to-toe with their targets, oblivious to the swordsmen who are standing nearby and hacking them to pieces. And while the voice talent of the main heroes and villains can’t be faulted, the stumbling dialogue delivered by the game’s supporting players breaks the magic, and looks ridiculous when paired with the dodgy animation that sees characters’ lips moving long after they’ve finished speaking.
For Game Of Thrones obsessives desperate for a fix, this spin-off is a fair attempt to capture the mood, atmosphere and labyrinthine plots of the novels and TV show. But if you’re looking for a game that allows you to feel like you’re a part of the dark fantasy world you’ve come to adore, Game Of Thrones is a crushing disappointment.
Reviewed by David McComb