With the final season debuting of Game of Thrones, there’s going to be the inevitable flurry of media around it, be it in the form of comics, toys, fan fiction, and games. The fine folks at Devolver Digital have found a well-suited avenue to utilize this brand from a semi-recently published titled back in late 2018 called Reigns: Kings & Queens. That game and its primary mechanics have been refreshed and modified to fit the contenders of the Iron Throne in the now aptly named Reigns: Game of Thrones.
Following nearly the same formula as the original Reigns, this Game of Thrones successor finds a more relatable version of gameplay for those deeply familiar with the HBO series. In the GoT thematic setting, you’ll be tasked with the Tinder-esque swiping feature to forge relationships, enemies, and ultimately determine who will rule Westeros in a choose your own adventure styled narrative.
For those new to Reigns, the interactive portion of gameplay is really quite simple. You’ll take the role of a lead character vying for the Iron Throne and begin a dynamic story. Flash cards from other members of the show will be presented in front of you one at a time, and on that card will be an action point or narrative text. As the player, you can then push the card a bit to the left or right, with each side outlining your brief response to what is happening. Once you formally swipe either direction, a new card is revealed, and the game repeats this way until a final outcome is made. Game of Thrones is well known for killing off many of its cast, and this is reflected perfectly here too, where death comes often.
There’s a balancing act you’ll have to learn on your own as you play the game. On the top of your screen are four icons that fill and deplete at certain times based on what is happening in your story. Each of these icons represents an element of your ruling, such as your aggression, economics, or faith to the Seven. I found that the more I became accustomed to whom I was speaking with, I knew what possible effects on my statuses would happen, but early on it’ll be a bit of an unknown. Now should any of these icons be filled or depleted entirely, this is when things get quite hairy. You may gain favor and a strong alliance temporarily, but as I found repeatedly and in ode to the show, it doesn’t take long to get stabbed in the back by a friend. Another icon is that of your economics/wealth, and if that icon empties, you’ll find the Iron Bank against you with certain death following closely behind. This system of risk and reward plays out well, and often forces you to make decisions that may not morally align with what you want to do, but are necessary for the good of your ruling…and well, life.
At the heart of Reigns: Game of Thrones, is Melisandre (the red-haired witch) and her quest to know and guide who will take the Iron Throne through the fire she sees. This translates into the game’s progression, as you’ll first start with the Daenerys story line, but after your first likely death, Melisandre will reveal that maybe another is destined for the Throne, thus unlocking the ability to roleplay with that character’s story. A total of 9 of GoT’s people become available to engage with at various intervals, each with multiple branching stories that keep things feeling pretty fresh in shorter play sessions. What I found most enjoyable is that playing this allowed me to break out of what is solely known from the show and books, creating new and unique situations for the characters I was familiar with, as one such example I found myself as Daenerys becoming romantically involved with a woman from House Martell, and forming that new alliance not seen before in canon.
Progression is also formed by the use of time. For the majority of responses, one “moon” will pass, and this function serves as a mini personal leaderboard as well. Once you perish, you’ll be shown how many moons you survived and with which character. However, the longer you survive, the harsher things become. As winter comes, decisions will have greater impact on your status icons, so it’s crucial to plan as best as possible.
There’s quite a remarkable amount of content to be discovered within your journeys. Nestled in the pause screen, is a Kingdom Menu that outlines a few general stats. There are 49 objectives which act similar to achievements or milestones to be completed, 29 destinies to be met across all characters, and many hundreds of the narrative cards to be discovered. Also, within the pause menu, I found an option to activate a two-player mode. Upon giving this a go, it gives each player a colored hand icon, and you must choose your paths together or have a bit of a button spammy tug of war while a fast timer ticks down to see who gets their decision selected if you are at odds with each other. Honestly having tried this for a few minutes, it just felt clunky and this game just isn’t suited for multiplayer. I don’t see it being utilized much, but it’s there for those that want it.
Visually the game mimics that of its its predecessor, where characters and scenic art are geometric simplified, with good use of solid colors and palettes. When winter comes, you’ll see everything turn that dreary shade of grey-blue, and for that, and among other regions of the game, it does convey a representative art style to Game of Thrones. Another strong nicety is the audio score, which is composed by Ramin Djawadi, the composer of the show, so you’re in for a thematic experience.
Reigns: Game of Thrones builds on a solid bite-sized game featuring all of the ensemble you know, and many that are much deeper in the canon. It’s a clever game, and particularly fun because if you are indeed a fan of the series, you’ll entirely enjoy discovering new storylines of your own that wouldn’t normally occur. Simple gameplay makes for a very accessible experience both on the go, or on the couch for a bit, and at a remarkably low price point that’ll set you back less than a glass of Dornish Wine, there’s no time like the present to give this a play.
Reigns: Game of Thrones Review
- Graphics - 6.5/106.5/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
- Gameplay - 7.5/107.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7.5/107.5/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Reigns: Game of Thrones is a clever choose your own adventure-styled title with highly accessible mechanics and a very robust dynamic narrative experience. Fans of the series will find a lot of canon to play around with and forge their own paths not seen before. Although not part of our typical rating system, I’ve given a higher total score also primarily due to the staggeringly low price point of $3.99, making it the perfect companion game to enjoy the last season with.