This game was largely panned and I'm sure if you want to hear about what's wrong with it it won't be hard to find negative reviews, but this is all about why I loved this game.
I heard going into this game that it had terrible gameplay but I actually found the combat system very engaging. For the most part it revolves around using special abilities to interrupt enemy attacks, keep them stun locked or provide power combos with status effects. Fighting one enemy at a time is quite a simple task but the game really shines in crowd control: Facing off against a room full of enemies you must be constantly mindful of all of them. One successful special attack against you can turn the tide of the battle drastically.
There are two main characters and they can be spec'd very differently. Making one a tank and one a glass cannon results in some varied gameplay between chapters early on and once the two heroes join forces later in the game synergy between them can make clearing out rooms of soldiers both efficient and satisfying.
I think the dialogue system is worth mentioning. Instead of simply stating what your character is going to say many dialogue options are presented as part of your characters inner thoughts and, giving you a slice of something familiar from reading the books. Some options are even just two parts of the same thought. "I don't trust him..." "...but I have no choice" are just so much more interesting as choices than "refuse" and "accept" and after a while I found myself reading them in the characters' voices. It's a very elegant implementation of an old fashioned system that shows that actual care and thought went into this game.
Story is were the game really shines though. It's not on the same level as the A Song of Ice and Fire series proper (it suffers from some awkward and sometimes over-expositionary dialogue and poor to atrocious delivery by the actors) but it's a solid addition to the franchise and as video games go it's terrific.
As already mentioned there are two main characters: Mors Westford is a sworn brother of the Night's Watch and a secret skinchanger. Alester Sarwyc is the heir of noble house who left Westeros to become a Red Priest. Their stories start off seemingly entirely separate but as the game progresses their stories begin to converge both as you learn the connections between their current situations and their past history together.
Despite being old friends Alester and Mors are quite different from each other with motivations and world views that are very much at odds. Alester is quite pragmatic and willing to stoop as low as he needs to to reach his goals. Mors is more driven by a sense of justice but also a rage that is always bubbling under the surface. When the tensions between them come to a head it's one of the best moments in the game and the voice actors (particularly Mors's) actually manage to summon up some real emotion to their performances.
The intrigue itself is complex and slowly revealed with many twists. These are twists of the good sort; they take you off guard when they happen, but once out in the air you'll slap yourself for not having seen it coming (though admittedly some are a bit obvious or otherwise cliche).
There is some conflict with the source material (some of which can chalked up to gameplay necessities and some not) and there are a few moments where the story falls flat. But these are rare enough and stand out because they contrast the largely good writing. If this were a tie-in novella rather than a video game I would have been as glad to read it as I was happy to play this game (though I'd expect some the dialogue to be brushed up a bit and the body count drastically reduced).
The game is a diamond in the rough but I would recommend that anyone who is a fan of the franchise and a fan of WRPGs should at least try it out. I'm sure many of you have it sitting in your library unplayed after the game's inclusion in a Humble Bundle.
Posted: November 25, 2013