Unlike most tie-ins based on popular TV shows, Reigns: Game of Thrones is the marriage of two properties destined to bring prosperity to the realm. Past videogames based on the HBO phenomenon have failed to live up to the hype, but the Reigns series is a perfect fit for channeling it’s layered storytelling and dramatic political landscape.
Drama in the Red Keep
Set in an alternate version of the 8th season, Reigns: GOT uses the gameplay dynamics of modern dating apps to present you with decisions that affect the balance of power in your kingdom. The strength of your armies and morale of the people fluctuate as you swipe left or right, dodging a knife in the back from one of your cabinet members. Characters from the kingdom will come to you asking for advice, with each black and white choice you make affecting one of 4 stats.
Give too much power or too little to any denomination and you’ll soon be facing a coup d’état. Keeping these levels at a solid rate is what makes the decision making more impactful than it is in other strategy games. You can’t just be honourable or evil as you like because sooner or later you’ll have to throw someone a bone, with a regretful feeling in the back of your throat.
An Alliance of Two Franchises
The original worked well as a strategy game because of its simplicity, but the medieval tropes wore thin after a few playthroughs. You try to run the kingdom for as long as you can before being overthrown or dying from old age. By jumping into the world of GOT the concept feels rejuvenated, as you take on the role of characters in settings that you’re intimately familiar with.
Each run is structured narratively as a vision of a potential future conjured by Melisandre, Red Priestess who is looking for answers in her darkest hour. You can rule as 9 different characters, from Dany, Tyrion to Cersei, each with their own plotlines and character elements which feel carefully and lovingly written to stay true to the show. It may feel like it’s just a strategy game with cards, but it’s one of the best adaptations the series has gotten.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Reigns: Game of Thrones was provided by the publisher.