‘Reigns: Game Of Thrones’ Is Westerosi Murder Tinder
Reigns: Game of Thrones is a video game in which ruling the Seven Kingdoms is as simple -- and difficult -- as swiping left or right.
“In Winterfell, Bran told me troubling things about my birth,” said Jon Snow on my second moon in power as Queen Daenerys. I was kind of hoping to avoid this whole conversation, but video game Reigns: Game of Thrones had brought it up, and now I had to deal with it. Spoiler alert: There’s no way to stop boning your nephew without hurting his feelings.
Released earlier this year, Reigns: Game of Thrones is the third video game in the Reigns series. As in Reigns and Reigns: Her Majesty, you are a monarch tasked with balancing your country’s needs, swiping left or right to make decisions in what must be the easiest political process ever in terms of pure mechanics. However, this latest instalment comes with an Iron Throne.
Each decision you make in Reigns: Game of Thrones can have an impact on four factors you must balance: Power, faith, people and the treasury. You die if any one of them falls too low, but also die if they rise too high, so you can’t just max them out and call it a day. If the people loathe you they’ll murder you in an angry mob. But if they worship the ground you walk on the Lords will stage a coup, because apparently, they believe happiness is a zero-sum game.
Grumpy nobility isn’t your only threat either. Winter is also coming, and you must prepare. However, exactly what must be done to ensure your survival is unclear unless you Google it. Even then it relies heavily on the correct random events occurring and on you playing through multiple times. Though managing my kingdom has been fairly straightforward, thus far I have not managed to survive a winter.
You start Reigns: Game of Thrones as Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen, but very quickly begin to unlock other characters such as Jon Snow, Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark. There are nine playable characters in total, each with different abilities that can be unlocked. For example, waking up Drogon while playing as Daenerys will give you ‘Dracarys’, a handy ability which will prevent the Lords from getting any funny ideas.
Unfortunately, the gameplay is rather repetitive, especially considering that you have to restart whenever you die. You do unlock abilities and playable characters which remain, but dead characters come back to life and narrative progress is lost. By the third time, Sansa Stark asks to buy some wildfire you have a pretty good idea what she’s going to do with it. It’s largely the same thing over and over, set to Game of Thrones‘ theme music. After a few lives you no longer feel any weight behind your decisions.
I also played last year’s Reigns: Her Majesty for comparison, and I gotta say I preferred it. Even though the basic mechanics are the same and there is repetition, I get more of a sense of progress with each death. Rather than having to start from the beginning when you die, Reigns: Her Majesty continues with your successor, so you soon have a long line of queens whose rule you have guided. There’s also an ongoing narrative connecting them, as they pass down knowledge and items to each other.
Despite this, each queen in Reigns: Her Majesty is fairly identical in personality, whereas the characters in Reigns: Game of Thrones are more distinct. Choosing whether to play as Jamie or Tyrion and thus which perks to use changes your experience, as well as how you might approach each decision. The world feels more fleshed out.
Despite its repetition, there’s enough in Reigns: Game of Thrones for an enjoyable few hours. The game will be interesting to fans of the show, particularly if they want to idly swipe on something that isn’t a dating app during train rides. And fortunately, all incidents of ill-advised boning are purely fictional.