After a fairly lacklustre entry into the world of RTS with Game of Thrones Genesis, George Martin’s fantasy epic is getting the RPG treatment. Whilst the political manipulations and constant subversive war between houses found in the novels does lend a bit of bite to the RTS idea, a role playing title has always been the more tantalising prospect. After all, Martin’s novels provide a huge and immensely detailed fantasy world that is ripe for exploring – it’s a ready made universe packed to the brim with characters and kingdoms, with insignias and armies, swords, sex, and dragons.
It’s certainly a big task to take on – and arguably Game of Thrones has to compete with the biggest fantasy RPG of them all – Skyrim. So, who has taken on this great quest? It’s Cyanide Studios again. The developers behind Game of Thrones Genesis are having a second stab at the Thrones universe, this time bringing a thirty hour RPG to PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. By the developers own admission, it is the most ambitious project they have ever worked on. Focus Home Interactive will be handling European publishing duties, and had this to say about the game:
“Cyanide realized a truly admirable work on Game of Thrones. The game is faithful to the unique ambiance found in George R.R. Martin’s novels. The narration, the artistic direction, the pace of the game and its realization make it one of the most exciting role-playing games to come in 2012.”
Cédric Lagarrigue, CEO of Focus Home Interactive
Now, this sort of thing has been said before. Genesis sounded promising but failed to deliver a true Game of Thrones experience – will the RPG fare any better? One interesting cause for hope is a greater recognition of the TV series. Genesis was no doubt already far into development by the time the HBO show made its mark, but the RPG has no excuse to ignore what has been one of the biggest hits of the year.
As a result, characters like Cersei, Varys and Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch Jeor Mormont are faithfully reproduced from the TV series – Mormont looks pretty spot on as you can see above. HBO’s logo is nestled on the game’s website, and the title text for the game is the same as that of the show. The screenshots on offer so far show off a familiar enough world, and the sharp eyed will no doubt have spotted a certain titular chair nestled in the background. What remains to be seen is how this licence will be put to use – will the similarities be more than skin deep?
The game has been written ‘under the supervision’ of author George R R Martin (also true for Genesis) and has players take on the role of two new characters. Mors is a sworn brother of the Night’s Watch, and Alester a Red Priest of R’hllor who has returned to Westeros after a long exile. So whilst full character customisation is out, Cyanide have at least opened up the potential use of magic, which whilst a part of the Game of Thrones world, isn’t commonplace. Fans of the books will know just what the Red Priests can be capable of, so it should be interesting to see which of their rather unique abilities make their way into the game. Although the characters are to some extent predefined, players will still be able to pick a class and develop their abilities to suit their play style. In addition to the swordplay players will also be able to talk their way out of situations if particularly silver tongued, so it’s nice to see that the more political skills have not been forgotten.
Details on the plot are a bit scarce, but the two characters will find themselves thrown into an adventure just as the Hand of King Robert Baratheon has passed away – the very same event that kicks off the books. The game will have to tread carefully around already established ground, so expect to see little from major players like the Starks- although there is always hope for some cameos. Cyanide have previously stated that there will be no direct interaction with the main plotline from the novel, but players will see those events shape the world around them instead. The screenshots don’t give much away, but who could that menacing face standing before the Iron Throne be?
So once again, this Game of Thrones title has all the makings – all the potential – to be a hit. There are a lot of elements that need to be perfectly balanced to make it a success with fans and newcomers alike and still a lot of questions to be answered before the game’s release in early 2012. Will it be a free roaming game? How much of the world will be open to explore? Will King’s Landing be called King’s Landing instead of Feudal Home? There will no doubt be a steady stream of trailers and a screenshots now that the publisher has been announced, so stay tuned for more on next year’s big ‘fingers crossed’ RPG.