It’s truly a rare occasion for a beloved movie or TV property to be adapted into a successful video game, and though George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series had all the makings of a really great action RPG, “Game of Thrones” falls well short of the mark. Though developer Cyanide has done a good job of creating a separate story that could conceivably exist within the rich history of Martin’s novels (namely, the events of the first book), the rest of the game fails to match that same level of quality. Following in the narrative style of the fantasy series, you’ll split your time between two characters – Mors Westford, a veteran ranger of the Night’s Watch with ties to the Hand of the King, Jon Arryn, and Alester Sarwyck, a red priest of R’hllor (better known to fans of the HBO show as the Lord of Light) who’s returned home from self-exile to reclaim his lands and titles from House Lannister.
The story allows for a few familiar faces to pop up throughout the course of the campaign (including Lord Commander Jeor Mormont and Lord Varys, both of whom are played by their respective actors from the TV series), but while that may add the connective tissue needed to make “Game of Thrones” feel like a legitimate part of the existing canon, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still not very fun to play. You know that something’s not right when one of the game’s biggest problems is also one of its strengths. Although the use of long, dialogue-driven scenes may enhance the storytelling in Martin’s novels and the show, it really shouldn’t be the focus of a video game. It’s hard to argue the quality of the writing on display, but every minute spent watching one of these cutscenes is time where the player is left to sit around and do nothing.
And when you finally are given a chance to roam the world and engage in battles, the combat system is so boring that it feels like it’s on auto-drive. Of course, that’s probably because it sort of is, as the only real control you’re given in the fight is deciding the best strategic order of your attacks and special abilities. However, the rate at which you earn new attacks and abilities is pretty slow, and by the time you do have more to choose from, you’re so set in your old ways that it’s not really worth experimenting. Additionally, the game itself is choppy, buggy and even a little ugly at times, and for a property with as large of a fanbase as “Game of Thrones,” that never should have been allowed to happen.