First there was the book series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ which still hasn’t been completed. That was followed by the HBO show, ‘Game of Thrones’. That success spawned into everything, including the world of video games, which comes naturally with this kind of fantasy setting.
But crossing over from one medium to the other doesn’t always work. The TV show has been a huge success and although it has been drifting more and more from the story told in the books (and is soon going to pass it and move into uncharted territory because of the sixth installment, ‘The Winds of Winter’, not coming out any time soon), it probably does the best job possible of translating such a massive fictional world from page to the camera.
The video game world? It still hasn’t handled this epic fantasy series very well. Why? Maybe because of the limitations in terms of storytelling. We still don’t have the full story, and there has always been the issue of the games not revealing what still hasn’t been shown on the show, which up until now, was behind the book material.
The first video game to come out was ‘A Game of Thrones: Genesis’, a RTS (Real-Time strategy) that was pretty much a depiction of great events in the history of Westeros leading up to Robert taking the Iron Throne and the beginning of the show more or less. It also had a skirmish mode that allowed a battle for power among the great houses of Westeros. The game was poorly received (around 50-55% in most reviews) and didn’t offer a very appealing draw to play it again after the first run through.
Cyanide, making the first game, came out with an RPG (Role Playing Game) of Game of Thrones that depicted two fictional characters caught up in the occurrences in Westeros in the time frame the first season encompasses. The story wasn’t bad, but the game mechanics and especially the fighting seemed to be quite inferior to other similar games around at the time. The reviews once again gave it a 50-60% rating, more or less.
‘Game of Thrones Ascent’ is a freemium social networking game which isn’t exactly gaming, but it did fill in a couple of hours for those who can’t get enough of the series. The game combines storytelling and strategy elements, allowing players to lead the life of a nobleman during the time of upheaval portrayed in the novels and the TV series. Nice when you’re bored on Facebook, but not what we were waiting for.
Personally, after playing ‘The Walking Dead’ and especially ‘The Wolf Among Us’, I thought Telltale games were going to make it right. But their Game of Thrones effort, which is now two episodes into the story, disappoints in a few ways. The story is fine (House Forrester with its fall and (???) rise), but the graphics seem rushed, as if their attempt to go in a different direction than their usual animation went wrong in some way. Maybe there was a deadline they had to meet. Anyway, something about the final result on the screen feels amateurish.
It’s 2015, and Game of Thrones will soon be on our TV screens again for 10 episodes, this time with the fifth season. The sixth novel will be coming out in 2016, by the way, and it seems to a disappointment for everyone who expected to read it before watching the fifht season. And a video game, one that’s actually good (Like ‘Shadow of Mordor’ for LOTR)? No word on that. Maybe the MMO ‘Game of Thrones: Seven Kingdoms” will be able to fix this impression, although it does seem the efforts to actually make it have been abandoned.
Maybe waiting for the series to end at some point will be the best thing for everyone.