Review: Reigns: Game of Thrones (Switch)

This time, you decide who takes the throne.

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 05/24/2019 15:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Great graphic style; strong writing; music straight from the show; clever use of license
Poison Mushroom for...
Very repetitive; total lack of direction

It takes a lot of work to retain the Iron Throne. Throughout Game of Thrones’ eight seasons, the ultimate prize of Westeros shuffled between numerous characters, not to mention the George RR Martin books that inspired it. While people certainly have some strong opinions about who took the throne at the end of the series, Reigns: Game of Thrones gives players the opportunity to see if they have what it takes to control the fabled kingdom.

Reigns: Game of Thrones is the third game in the Reigns franchise from publisher Nerial. While the concept of taking a blockbuster franchise and marrying it to an indie game series may sound unusual, it’s actually a fairly natural fit. The game‘s framing device sees Lady Melisandre staring into the flames and envisioning scenarios in which different characters might take the Iron Throne, essentially making the game something akin to Marvel’s “What If” comic, with the red priestess in the role of The Watcher. Players begin the game as Daenerys Targaryen, but the more you play, the more characters are unlocked, allowing different scenarios to unfold depending on who has control of the crown.

The gameplay in the Reigns franchise is similar to the Tinder dating app. Essentially, every choice in the game is represented as a card, and players must swipe each one left or right in order to make decisions in their role as king or queen. Completing specific tasks unlocks more cards and a better chance at staying on the throne. In order to survive and thrive, players must make decisions that strike the right balance between four categories: military strength, religious favor, domestic popularity, and state wealth. If any of the four categories fills or empties all the way, your reign will come to a gruesome end. Over the course of the game, Melisandre will see each of the major Game of Thrones characters die in a number of ways.

Given the card-based format of the game, that particular gruesomeness is handled in a fairly tame way. Reigns: Game of Thrones has a very unique graphic style, and while there is a bit of blood and some adult situations, you won’t see anything as outright gross as, say, Prince Oberyn’s death back in season 4. Instead, you’ll see cutesy versions of the show’s cast, and that’s honestly one of the game’s biggest highlights. Nerial did a terrific job making each character look as one would expect them to. The sound is equally strong. Reigns: Game of Thrones features music straight from the TV series, and it all sounds terrific, here. There isn’t any voice work, as the characters speak in generic mumbles rather than full voice work, but that does make it easier to breeze through the cards you’ve come across on multiple playthroughs.

The biggest problem with Reigns: Game of Thrones is that it can get very, very repetitive. While the game has a handful of different characters to choose between, and the “cards” get shuffled up each time you start a new reign, the scenarios will often play out similarly to one another no matter which character you choose. For example, whether you’re playing as Jon Snow or Cersei Lannister, the opportunity to go to Winterfell will present itself. The road there will play out much the same, and the inevitable difference will mainly come down to the way in which the characters interact with one another. As a result, players that strive to get all of the game’s endings will find themselves revisiting the same scenarios ad nauseam.

Fortunately, the writing in the game is quite strong. Nerial does show a great attention to detail, and there are some truly clever touches that Game of Thrones fans should enjoy. For example, players can unlock Arya Stark and have her take the throne. While the scenario wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense on the show, in the game, Arya starts off on the throne wearing the face of Cersei Lannister, after crossing Cersei off her list. These little flourishes really make the game stand out. That said, those who aren’t overly familiar with the show will want to steer clear. The game doesn’t make any effort to explain each of the characters to the audience, nor to when the game takes place (between seasons 7 and 8). Adhering to that specific point in the story also leaves the game bereft of some of the show’s most intriguing characters, like Joffrey or Eddard.

Lack of direction permeates the entire experience, unfortunately. From the outset, players are thrown right in, with no tutorial to speak of and not the slightest bit of handholding. It’s often difficult to discover exactly what the game wants you to do, and when you combine that fact with the repetition issue, Reigns: Game of Thrones can be a bit irksome.

For fans of the show, Reigns: Game of Thrones is an entertaining experience. The presentation is great and the writing is stellar. Unfortunately, the game often feels repetitive and the lack of direction makes the game a bit frustrating. If the show’s ending left you wanting, this game might satisfy that craving, but newcomers or those that just started the series should definitely steer clear.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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