Hello all and welcome to another edition of The Backlog. For the first time since we talked about Mass Effect what feels like ages ago, we will be venturing into the RPG world and discussing Game of Thrones. For those unfamiliar with Game of Thrones, here is a quick summary: A Game of Thrones is the first book in George R. R. Martin’s successful series of fantasy books, A Song of Ice and Fire. The made for television adaptation, Game of Thrones premiered on HBO on April 17, 2011 and has been award winning and popular with critics and viewers alike. The books, television show, and the game we are about to dive into all are largely based taking place in the Seven Kingdoms of the fictional continent of Westeros.
Now that you’re somewhat up to speed, you have a couple of options: If you are already a fan or think that this has the potential to be interesting, please keep reading. If you are already confused, bookmark this for later and go find somewhere to watch the first season of the TV series. Or you can go read the books. I haven’t done this myself yet, but it is on my to do list. The TV series is so good that it has inspired me to want to read the books. For anyone that knows me, this should speak volumes as I have never been confused for a bookworm.
Now that I’ve rambled on for two paragraphs and barely mentioned the game itself, it is time to get to it.
We start our journey playing as Mors Westford, a member of The Nights Watch. The Nights Watch members have forsaken land, title, inheritance, and family in service of their duty to guard The Wall against Wildlings, White Walkers, the Others, or whatever else may be out there. Some join by choice, others come to avoid prison or execution, which brings us back to Mors. He has the look of a tired, weathered older man, yet he is tough as nails and has the scars, voice and weaponry skill to prove it.
Mors has been at The Wall for 15 years when our story begins. He has been dispatched to capture a deserter and bring him back to Castle Black for execution, the punishment for all who break their vow and desert The Wall. This is all done through cut-scenes and dialogue options, so we don’t get to fully control Mors until after sentence has been carried out and your former brother has been separated from his head.
Once you gain control of Mors, your first objective is to go to the training area and break in the new members of the Nights Watch. This glorified sparring session serves as a combat tutorial, and for me, was the first introduction to what I consider to be the weakest aspect of the game, combat. Basically, you hit a button, time slows down, and you can select an action to perform. The more I played it, the more I got used to it, but it still seems a bit awkward to me.
Anyway, once through the tutorial, you are dispatched with the rookies to track down another member of the Nights Watch that beat up and killed another of the recruits. Not exactly sure why, but, nonetheless, our task is to track down this villainous scum and bring him back to justice. Of course, our target is off on a Nights Watch patrol, and soon we find out that a crew of Wildlings has bested them, so naturally, we must get vengeance for our fallen brethren. This quest covers the remaining course of Chapter One.
In Chapter Two, we meet our second main character, Alester Sarwyck. Sarwyck is returning home to Riverspring for the first time in 15 years to attend the funeral of his father, the noble Lord of Riverspring. Sarwyck quickly discovers that his former hometown has gone to shit since he has been gone, as his father basically became despondent, leaving Sarwyck’s sister to try and run the affairs of the town.
Unfortunately, sis either isn’t good at running a city or dad had seriously let that thing run itself into the ground before she tried to make things right again. Trade ships aren’t bringing in new goods, markets are stagnant, and the peasants are starving. Then, as Sarwyck, you run into your sister. She’s not pleased to see you. Some of your old buddies aren’t happy to see you. Only person happy to see you is the guy that invited you, Maester Harwyn. The kind old Maester Harwyn will have several conversations with you during your stay in Riverspring, which is briefly interrupted by a peasants rebellion that you must attempt to resolve as peacefully as possibly(or as violently as you want).
Anyway, turns out your sister has reached out to the Queen for help in restoring luster to Riverspring, but she will only help if there is a male Lord in charge, so your sister has to marry your father’s bastard son. Yes sir, she has to marry her half brother. Apparently the Queen was trying to set up a medieval episode of Jerry Springer. Naturally, this doesn’t sit well with Sarwyck, so he has to drop his Red Priest attire and don something a little more befitting someone that wants their title and noble rights restored by the Queen.
After that, the game goes into a back and forth style between Mors and Sarwyck. Mors side of the story centers more in a colder, darker atmosphere. Sarwyck meanwhile, seems to be more involved well lit, political environments. While using one character in a more open world setting would have been more fun, this bouncing story and character control fits more with the style of the TV series. While I still hope for the one character, open world style if they make a sequel to this game, I can understand why they went this route.
My only real complaint with this game is that I do not care for the combat system. I’ve gotten used to it over the course of my time playing it, but it still feels awkward and clunky, especially when having to fight multiple enemies at one time. Other than that, the game is quite dialogue heavy, so if that is not your cup of tea, then you probably should avoid this game. Not that there is a lack of conflict, but there is a lot of talking and cut scenes as well.
I think it was more enjoyable since I am a fan of the show, but I can see where non-fans or those that are just unfamiliar with it might not like this game. With that said, this is a pretty solid game in my estimation. While I do hope these is a sequel, and there are definitely some improvements that can be made if they do so. If you are a fan of the show or possibly the books, you will probably like this game as I do, but in the interest of fairness, I can only give this a 2 out of 5 star rating. Until next time (which may be here more quickly than usual), Game On.
Game of Thrones gets a two out of five: DECENT.