It’s not easy being monarch, but imagine if every decision came down do a binary swipe of left or right. In classic Reigns, you hold onto power as long as possible in a story-based choose-your-own-beheading simulator. Now, Reigns: Game of Thrones brings this struggle to the seven kingdoms of Westeros.
This new version of Reigns is Game of Thrones after the “game” has been won. You already have your Iron Throne, and now you must manage the great houses, the undead threat in the north, and a million other distractions.
Representatives from the different power structures will present you with various problems and intrigues, to which you’ll swipe left or right. Each decision will affect some or all of the Military, the Priesthood, the People, or the Bank. The trick is, Reigns: Game of Thrones doesn’t tell you how they’ll be affected.
If any of those icons (see below) become full or empty, your reign has ended. It’s a balancing act across four dimensions, each binary conundrum threatening to send your rule into the realm of history.
It’s Tinder for monarchs, and sometimes your choices won’t be as simple as “yes” or “no.” Often it’ll be a question inviting more info, or a statement. Sometimes it just seems outright chance-based. And at times, you may want to swipe left for narrative reasons but are forced to swipe right to balance the scales.
How Reigns: Game of Thrones Works
You can swipe to the side without exiting your finger from the screen to see exactly what you’ll say, but this is only sometimes helpful. It’s a nice touch that Reigns: Game of Thrones tailors your responses to who you’re controlling.
You’ll catch yourself reading these one-liners in the voice of Jon Snow, or the Queen of Dragons. But in the case of Tyrion Lannister, swiping left or right might result in two versions of a pithy quip. Entertaining, but not informative.
Those uninformed in either the Game of Thrones books or TV series might want to be aware of the inside knowledge at play here. There are spoilers in the dialogue leading up to the events occurring right at the end of the latest season.
Pleasantly, though, we haven’t experienced much repeated dialogue. After a couple of evenings, it’s stayed fresh.
Winter is Coming… For Peasants
Whereas every decision affects some group in the kingdom, when Winter finally arrives, the People will be most affected. At a certain point, you’re notified that Winter has come, and seasonal storms will double the effects of your decisions on that one group.
The storms seem to be randomised, and you’ll see snowflakes falling in front of your decision card when the storm is active. If it’s a decision that would greatly affect the people anyway, that one swipe could bring you dangerously close to a revolt.
Items and Abilities Save the Throne
Much like the vanilla game, Reigns: Game of Thrones has items you can pick up along the way and abilities that persist across games.
Some of these are character-specific. Daenerys, for example, has a fairly easy and early quest to wake up Drogon. Afterwards, the great houses fear the dragon. Pleasing the people “too much” is no longer a threat to your power, as a quick ping to Drogon’s pager sorts the problem right out.
At certain points, you might be required to select between multiple characters on-screen. The reasons vary, but we were presented with one scenario in which we had to charge one of four people with murder. There were no discernible clues as to whom it might be, and we’re pretty sure we failed whatever test that was.
We then came across an ability called “In the eyes,” in which we’re told if someone can’t look us in the eyes, they’re untrustworthy. Oh, to have that ability a few turns ago!
You’ll collect these abilities as you play the game, and “In the eyes” seems to be sticking around past the death of that ruler. Perhaps it’s more of a “rule of the game” than an ability, which rewards players for continued play.
Is Reigns: Game of Thrones a Re-Skin?
It’s a re-skin, but it’s a damn clever re-skin. The kind of perfect fit that makes you say hot damn, a Game of Thrones-themed Reigns? Winter is Coming early this year… and you can call us Winter.
Plus, how else are you going to live that Tyrion/Sansa fanfic?
Tinder for monarchs, indeed.
Reigns: Game of Thrones is a nice distraction, a time-waster worthy of your bus trips. It’s not perfectly designed — there are times you’ll feel the writing and results of your decisions don’t quite line up, and your deposing was unfair. But as a bit of silly fun, it’s perfect.
You can grab the game on October 18th on Steam, iOS, or Android.