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Game of Thrones RPG Review at RockPaperShotgun

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Game of Thrones RPG Review at RockPaperShotgun

Review - posted by Crooked Bee on Fri 1 June 2012, 21:11:35

Tags: Cyanide Studio; Game of Thrones

RockPaperShotgun has done a review of Cyanide's Game of Thrones RPG, and whaddya know, it's a positive one! Here are some of the more important bits:

It’s made from two key ingredients: a fleshed-out and surprising narrative that weaves in and out of the events of the first Song of Ice & Fire book/season of the TV show without either disrupting them or being undermined by them, and combat that blossoms from stilted beginnings into highly tactical crowd control. Also, stealth missions starring a psychic dog. It’s grand and sprawling and silly and brutal and will make about as much sense as a sheep wearing a tie to anyone not reasonably au fait with the books or TV show, and it’s a hard sell for sure. It might also be the most fascinating mainstream game I’ve played this year.

[...] This being Game of Thrones – and not just lip service to it – everything is connected, everyone is lying to everyone and no-one is safe from blade. Least of all the most virtuous. Given how much existent material it has to tie into yet never step on the toes of, the writing does a remarkable job of being its own, self-contained and surprisingly affecting tale while still finding some natural gaps to slide neatly into. There are certainly points where it’s near-impossible to believe that Mors and Alester’s activities, and the nature of some of their allies, could have gone entirely unobserved and unremarked upon by the books/show, but for the most part it avoids being fanfic or grotty embellishment. Its Mors and Alester’s story. There’s plenty I could spoil, but I’ll leave it at saying they’re not operating in the vacuum they first appear to be. That’s good, in that it’s satisfying to be part of the bigger picture after all, and bad in that the game will struggle to function as standalone entity for those who don’t know the show/books well. Mors and Alester might not be in Game of Thrones, but they are very much in the game of thrones. As such, you know full well what their options are.

Critically, their tale, as it blossoms and unravels and shocks and elongates far past what I’d imagined, is compelling. That it achieves this without any Tyrion or Joffrey or Ned or Hodor (Hodor!) deserves great applause. That it achieves this despite being often undermined by voice acting your mum could do a better job of deserves a standing ovation.

[...] Your two characters’ abilities complement each other, primarily by creating stunlock or damage over time effects which their companion’s skills can make the best of, but the enemy numbers and toughness generally increases to ensure that you can’t focus on just one of your guys while leaving the other to do whatever.

True enough, the combat can be samey despite this. There isn’t an enormous range of abilities even if there are options, you’re almost exclusively up against identikit guards in light, medium or heavy armour and with either melee or ranged weapons, plus the energy bar is too limited to allow using your full box of tricks in any given single fight. But it is truly tactical and thoughtfully balanced, and for that reason it’s spared from the hollow relentlessness it might have had as a straight-up action game even in stretches where the fighting can become too routine.

[...] In short, it’s a troubled roleplaying game but also a really interesting and strong one. Every misfire is met by a triumph of some sort, and the one thing it is not is a lazy, perfunctory cash-in. It’s an epic that doesn’t quite have the budget to be an epic, but strives its hardest to be one nonetheless. It’s much more like the kind of experience I’d hoped for from Risen 2, which sadly turned out to be a stereotype-laden exercise in hollow jolliness. This is thoughtful, heavy with a sense of consequence and impressively nasty even despite stylistic and apparent budgetary failings. After the woeful Genesis, it’s also Cyanide very much making good on the huge license they lucked into.​

If that has piqued your interest, you can read the full review here.

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