Reigns: Game of Thrones Review – Ruling From Your Iron Phone
Reigns: Game of Thrones is now available, and it offers fans of HBO’s series a chance to return to the Iron Throne before the show’s final season airs in 2019.
Rather than providing you with a canon-based tale though, it throws multiple what-if scenarios at you that challenge you to rule with nine distinct Westerosi rulers to see how they would handle their duties as King or Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. The gameplay is simple, you just swipe right or left to make a decision, which in turn will affect up to four categories used to decide your ultimate fate. While it may sound simple, there are many branching paths that this game can take you down, so you won’t be ruling like a pro anytime soon.
You can check out the full review below via the embedded video, or if you prefer you can just read its script.
Hey now fans of games that only require one hand, Matt Heywood here to review Reigns: Game of Thrones, or what I like to call, a fix for Game of Thrones fans looking to consume anything Westeros related before the debut of the show’s final season.
Reigns: Game of Thrones builds upon the Reigns gameplay formula by providing fans of the franchise with an opportunity to explore the fates of nine Westeros rulers who are given a chance to sit upon the Iron Throne, with simple swipe-based gameplay.
The narrative is framed around the concept that Melisandre is looking into the future and predicting what would happen if certain lead characters ended up on the Iron Throne, so it features “what-if” scenarios, and not canon-based Westeros content. This allows for some of the character threads and choices to go wildly beyond what we already know about them from the show and books, so it’s been fun to choose-my-own-adventure if you will, for some of the series’ most iconic characters like Dany, Jon Snow, Sansa, and Cersei.
Upon first firing up the game, you are presented with your first crack at trying to appease Westeros with Dany as Queen. You’re exposed to the overly simplistic gameplay at this moment too, which simply involves swiping a 2D card to the right or left to reveal an answer to a question being posed to you.
Your choices for each question, which are presented to you by other characters in Westeros looking for your guidance, will determine what questions you’re asked next, and to see if you can solve any of the Royal Deeds puzzles, which are 49 feats you must complete through your choices with the nine available leaders. Your choices can also affect up to four categories that reflect different factions or aspects of your kingdom. These categories are related to the Faith, Money, the People, and your Army, so depending on the choices you make, you can either increase or decrease one of these categories, and if one becomes full or completely empty, then your game ends and your ruler will meet one of the available 29 destinies that awaits them.
While this gameplay formula may seem overly simple, I can tell you that the nuances of your answers and how they affect the four categories or not. It’s very hard to stay alive in this game with any of the 9 rulers, because balancing the four categories could be as stressful and confusing as actually ruling over the seven kingdoms. The longest I’ve made it so far is 22 moons, which equates to about 10-minutes of gameplay, so Reigns: Game of Thrones’ mind games are strong, making it very challenging to complete a character’s full journey on the throne unscathed.
In addition to the choice-based swiping gameplay to progress the narrative of each available character, there are also mini-games you can come across to change up the pace of play a bit. I’ve ran across jousting tournaments and bar fights, which still require you to make a choice via swiping, but you get some rudimentary animations to look at instead of the Terrence and Phillip looking character cards that you have to interact with while making your choices.
Thanks to the power of choice in this game, it provides for a ton of replayability. For starters, you will have to play a particular leader card multiple times to get new choices and narrative branches to explore, so just because you already tried a leader, it doesn’t mean that you’ve experienced everything their journey has to offer. Naturally, due to how impactful choice is, you will have multiple opportunities to try different choices for the same question to see how things play out differently. This high level of replayability, coupled with the simple one handed. Swiping controls, makes Reigns: Game of Thrones the perfect type of time killer to fire up in spurts while you’re on the go, or just have a few minutes to burn.
My only real beef with this game lies in how saves are handled, because outside of that I love the flat, angular 2D visuals, the Djawadi soundtrack, not to mention the Star Wars alien-style voices the characters use to talk to you, and the simple, yet challenging gameplay. I just don’t understand why Nerial and Devolver Digital didn’t build in a system to sync your progress between devices. In 2018 that’s pretty much a staple for most mobile games, so I was very bummed out to find out that all of the time I logged on my iPad playing Reigns: Game of Thrones was lost when I launched it on my iPhone. This game’s saves are local for some reason, so your progress doesn’t carry over between devices, which is pretty big bummer in my opinion.
The lack of synchronized saves between devices, especially on the Android and iOS versions of this game is a negative, but not one that ultimately spoils the upsides of it. Reigns: Game of Thrones is an 8 out of 10 type of mobile game that really excels at giving you an entertaining gaming experience in small doses that doesn’t require you to even be a traditional gamer. If you can read and swipe a digit, you can play this game.
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, or just like wasting time on your mobile devices with interesting games, then I’d recommend forking over $4 to play Reigns: Game of Thrones. Besides, it’s the closest any of us are getting to HBO Game of Thrones content for at least another half a year or more!
Thanks for watching, I’m Matt Heywood signing off for EntertainmentBuddha.com, where we make you a better geek, one post at a time.
Review Statement: The author of this review was provided an iOS code by the publisher for the purposes of this review.
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