Game of Thrones Review

12 Jun 2012

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Atlus
Developer:Cyanide Studio
Release Date:2012-05-15
Genre:
  • Role-Playing,Action
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Game of Thrones is a role-playing game based on the A Song of Ice and Fire novels written by George R. R. Martin (not to mention the "Game of Thrones" television series appearing on HBO).  The game was created by French developer Cyanide Studio, and while it has some issues with its pacing and interface, which might turn off some gamers, it also gives you a chance to take part in the plots and maneuverings of the lords of Westeros, which might be a selling point for others.  Keep reading to see which side of the fence you sit on.

In Game of Thrones, you take control of two characters -- Mors Westford, a ranger in the Night's Watch, and Alester Sarwyck, a red priest of R'hllor and the heir to the Sarwyck lands.  At the start of the game, Mors receives a message from John Arryn asking him to protect a girl, but then Arryn dies before revealing why the girl is important or who she needs to be protected from.  Alester, meanwhile, returns home for his father's funeral, only to find that his lands are in jeopardy and that he needs Queen Cersei's assistance to keep them.  You start out by alternating between the two characters as you learn more about them, but then eventually their stories intersect and you control them as a team.

When you first gain control of a character, you have to choose a weapon stance for him.  Each character has three choices.  Alester is a rogue-like character who favors lighter armors and quicker attacks, and he can be a water dancer, a sellsword, or an archer.  Mors is more of a typical fighter, with a preference for heavier weapons and armor, and he can be a magnar, a landed knight, or a hedge knight.  Then at level 7 you get to choose a new stance for your characters, either improving their initial stance or selecting one of the two stances you bypassed before.

Characters also get a variety of attributes (including strength and intelligence), abilities (which give active and passive combat bonuses, including Alester's Head Shot archer ability), skills (which improve how well characters use weapons and armor), and traits (which can be positive or negative, and which must be balanced at the beginning of the game).  This sounds like a lot of stuff to keep track of, but it works out pretty well.  Unfortunately, as you level up you're given enough points for all of these areas that you can learn just about everything useful, and so character development isn't especially interesting, other than your initial stance choice.

The campaign in Game of Thrones takes place during the time period of A Game of Thrones, the first book in the Martin series.  Certain characters from the book (such as Cersei and Varys) make minor appearances, but otherwise the story in the campaign exists on the periphery of the story in the book.  The game basically speculates on what might have happened if John Arryn had had time to plan and scheme after discovering Cersei's secret.  This works out well in some ways but not in others.  For example, Cyanide had to create a new bastard belonging to King Robert (which seems possible) but also a new heir to the Targaryen line (which doesn't).  I'm sort of surprised that Cyanide didn't just create a new adventure in Westeros with the events of the book as a backdrop, rather than trying to link them together.