We expected this to be cheap and nasty, but actually it turns out it's just cheap. If you're able to forgive the shortcomings, it's not a bad game, but it's hard to wholeheartedly recommend. Blurry textures and rough edges make everything look dreadful, while woeful animations fan the flames of the car-crash.
Menus don't feel like they were designed to be used, and the lack of clarity about how the game works makes the first hour feel extremely muddled. The character creation system asks you to permanently invest in a large chunk of stats before you know anything about the game, which then turns out to be unexpectedly complex.
It might look like hack-and-slash from a distance, but the combat here is effectively turn-based, expecting you to manage a variety of skills and factors at once in order to survive the unforgiving battles. These lack variety and flair but aren't unpleasant, and don't detract too much from the stuff that's good. It also has stealth bits where you get to be a dog. Muttel Gear Solid, if you will.
Jumping between the intertwining tales of a Southron Lord and a Black Brother, the story being told is surprisingly compelling. Avoiding constant cameos and winter-is-coming quotes, the reverence to the source material gradually builds a sense of place that transcends the poor presentation. Fans of the novels will find much to love.
Well-developed characters are held together with patchy but generally acceptable voice acting, adding depth to the focused and interesting story. Personal gain is the backbone of everything in Game of Thrones, and it's something that the game manages to capture well. One of the two protagonists is a textbook goody-two-shoes, and quickly learns that honour won't get you far. Making a stand against evil is an Auto-RPG-staple, but here it isn't always a good idea. Loudly expressing your opinions is dangerous, and some conversation options can get you killed.
Aspects like this make it feel fresh, but can't stop the rest of the game feeling stagnant; a throwback to the RPG genre's stumbling first steps into 3D. If you remain nostalgic about this strange era, love the books, and don't mind turn-based combat, this is surprisingly compelling stuff. Everyone else should approach with caution: don't expect an awesome dwarf to give you the cash back if you hate it.
Far more enjoyable than it has any right to be
- Nails the tone of the books
- Story stuff is interesting
- You get to play as a dog
- Disastrous presentation
- Rubbish menu systems