Background information first; Game Of Thrones is being developed Cyanide, an independent publisher based in Paris with a second studio in Montreal. The game will be published by Focus Home Interactive, also based near Paris and behind titles such as Blood Bowl, Sherlock Holmes and Cities XL.
It seems Cyanide had a stroke of good fortune when they signed the license for Game Of Thrones as the title has been in development for over three years, way before the TV show was broadcast and became a worldwide hit. The series became an overnight success, so Cyanide has reworked the models of their characters to match their TV counterparts and also brought in the actors from the show to provide the voices. They have also licensed the use of the excellent theme tune and the logo.
Taking place during the first book (or if you prefer, season one of the TV show) Cyanide has created a brand new story written under the supervision of series author George R.R. Martin.
“This is a role playing game, we had to create a new story and new characters,” said lead designer, “If we had used an existing character then there would be no point to the role playing – you already know the character’s destiny if you had read the books.”
The two main characters in the game are Mors, a veteran ranger from the Night’s Watch stationed at Castle Black, and Alester (or Allester – the game and the promo material can’t quite decide how his name is spelt), the heir to Riverspring who also happens to be a Red Priest with a perchance for all things flamey.
Both of the characters have been away for fifteen years and you will alternate between Mors and Alester as you play. The characters meet up mid-game and will also meet up for the finale and be accompanied during the missions by various non-player characters including Mors’ dog.[drop]Whilst you cannot alter the physical appearance of Mors and Alester, you can adjust their attributes and fighting styles during the character creation sequence. As Cyanide demonstrate this I get the first hint that this is a ‘proper’ RPG. By that, I mean you will be required to keep an eye on stats and balance numbers rather than fight your way through the game without out worrying too much about the stats as you can with Fallout 3.
You can pick a fighting style for your character and adjust the usual suspect statistics – strength, intelligence etc. There is also an option to pick additional perks but for every positive perk you must also balance it out by choosing a negative.
We are shown a couple of areas within the game and visuals are rather impressive, especially at The Wall, which dominates the landscape. The character animation is less impressive. Whilst the hero has been motion captured, it does look like the NPC’s have been hand animated and a few appear to be from the Ministry Of Silly Walks.
There is also a fair amount of polygon clipping, at one point Mors’ dog attacks and manages to bury his face through the armored helmet of the enemy he is attacking.
Also, doors magically spring open when you press ‘X’ rather than the character reaching out and opening them, I know that’s a a minor thing to point out but it is 2012 and by now we are used to Batman, et al. reaching out and pulling doors open.
If this were an open world game such as Skyrim then a little graphical roughness could be forgiven but Game Of Thrones is a series of linear missions, there are side quests but you will not be wandering around in the forests between activities. Hopefully the game will receive some extra polish before it ships.
Back to the gameplay and Mors begins to attack three soldiers in real time. You can use two sets of weapons such a sword and shield for close quarters combat and a bow for long ranged attacks and swap between them during combat.
A quick press of a button and the action slows down and suddenly the screen is filled with menus, directional arrows, icons and health bars. This is where the combat gets tactical and from here you can select up to three special attacks for your character and chain them together, return to real time and watch Mors perform the moves.
You can also command and control any companions including Mors’ dog. The best comparison I can think of is the battles in Final Fantasy XIII – you can spam away with simple combat movies or delve into the menus for more complex commands.[drop2]My Prototype 2 interview ended with a tease, “Keep an eye on TSA in the very near future. Let’s just say the world is full of strange coincidences,” I said. I was referring to when Prototype 2 devs Radical Entertainment discussed but eventually dismissed the idea of Heller possessing an animal and playing as the beast.
Guess what you can do in Game Of Thrones? Yep, Mors can delve into the mind of his pooch and you can play sections of the game as his dog. This can be useful when scouting an area as the dog is less likely to attract attention. You can also utilise the mutt’s keen sense of smell and follow scent trails to locate a person.
Game Of Thrones is not Assassin’s Creed, you cannot hack and slash your way through the story and you will have to play tactically in combat and also when interacting with the characters. Choices early on in the game may affect later events and will determine which of the four end sequences take place.
Graphical niggles aside, Game Of Thrones looks like it could follow in the footsteps of the books and TV shows and become a big hit for Focus Home Interactive, it could be the title to raise public awareness of both developer and publishers in the same way Dead Island brought publisher Deep Silver to the fore.
By the way, keep an eye on TSA in the very near future. Let’s just say the world is full of strange coincidences. Again.