Thursday, 11 August 2016

Dealing with backlog: Game of Thrones

I bought this game at the Steam Summer Sale in 2014. It's not the Telltale one, but the RPG, which was released 2 years prior to Telltale's game. This game's story is centered around the books rather than the TV show, although there are some features from the show. Like the music from the TV opening on the main menu, or the fact that the actors for Lord Commander Jeor Mormont and Varys reprise their roles for this game. George R. R. Martin also has a cameo, and his character apparantly writes books about the history of the realm and his assistant keeps asking him when his next book will be finished. A not-so-subtle hint towards all the fans that keep asking him when his next book will be finished IRL ;) I was somewhat disappointed, though, to find out that Lena Headey doesn't reprise her role as Cersei in the game. Only her likeness was used, not her voice.

Anyway, the game is divided into 16 chapters, and you follow two characters. Those characters are Ser Mors Westford and Ser Alester Sarwyck. Both of them were a part of Robert Baratheon's rebellion against Aerys Targaryen fifteen years ago, and because of their choices during the end of the rebellion we find them in their current situations: Mors decided to take the black and become a brother of the Night's Watch rather than being executed for disobeying an order; Alester went into self-imposed exile in the Free City of Braavos, due to a choice he had to make, and there became a red priest of R'hllor. Until chapter 11 we play every other chapter as each character separately until they are united in chapter 11. At the end of chapter 13 you have to choose which character you want to complete the story with, the first step towards one of the game's four endings.
Mors to the left and Alester to the right.

The game was very Game of Thrones-y, in the sense that just like in the TV show where all the action happens in the last two to three episodes, all the action here was reserved for chapters 13-16. Until Mors and Alester are united and you have to choose which one to follow there's more story and talk than action.

I found the controls of the game somewhat weird, but it was still something I got used to quite quickly. But because the controls were odd it took me a while to get back into it when I took a break from the game.

The battles are very similar to Dragon Age Origins, in that you can pause and tell your characters and their allies what moves to use. The amount of energy (stamina) they have determines what moves and how many they can do. Mors is a warg and also has a dog that he can control with him in battles.

The game has a lot of secrets hidden here and there. Playing with Mors you can use his warg ability to sniff out hidden objects with his dog (I really enjoyed doing that). Playing with Alester you can use his ability as a red priest, the Light of R'hllor, to find hidden objects.

Originally I liked Mors a lot better than Alester, but as the game progressed Alester grew on me until I saw Mors as nothing but a grumpy fool (he has every right to be grumpy, but I still don't like it). As the game progressed I also thought that Alester's story made more sense to use for the game's completion. While Alester was always in the midst of things, Mors seemed to be sort of just along for the ride. But in the end I got a bad ending - everyone died and then at the end of the epilogue Alester hanged himself in his bedroom.

The game, in the true spirit of Game of Thrones, was all intrigue, and as much as I wanted more action and less story it was exciting to watch the pieces fall into place and realise how it all fit together. There are just two things storywise that I didn't like. 1). I realised who the "bad guy" was way before that revelation. 2). The cliché that the pregnant lady always gives birth during the most inopportune moment in the entire show.

The game was good. Not brilliant, but good. Seeing as there are three more endings to explore, I may come back at a later time to see those as well. I did think ahead and made a separate save just before the moment when I had to choose between Alester and Mors.

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