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Reigns: Game of Thrones review – death, disaster and dark magic on your phone

October 18,2018 21:23

Reigns: Game of Thrones lets you play out hundreds of potential futures for Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister and other potential leaders of the Seven Kingdoms. These are nestled cleverly within Game of Thrones lore as visions in Red ...


An endearing, witty mix of card game, Game of Thrones fan fiction and dating app, this mobile game is another brilliant thing to emerge thanks to George RR Martin’s meandering tales of dragons, feasts and blue-eyed zombies. In contrast to the aesthetic opulence of the TV series, the art is minimalist, but the colour all comes from the writing. As the various nefarious denizens of Westeros and beyond come to you with their problems, you swipe left or right to decide how to deal with them, uncovering plots and secrets as you advance your reign.
Reigns: Game of Thrones lets you play out hundreds of potential futures for Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister and other potential leaders of the Seven Kingdoms. These are nestled cleverly within Game of Thrones lore as visions in Red Priestess Melisandre’s fire – she of the flowing red hair and womb full of dark magic, perhaps best remembered as the only character in the entirety of the books and TV series who actually liked Stannis Baratheon. A round lasts just a few minutes, as you make quick decisions to try to stave off your inevitable demise for as long as possible.
Appropriately for a game based on Game of Thrones, death is swift and frequent, and quickly forgotten. Playing as Tyrion, I couldn’t suppress a laugh when the game calmly informed me that I’d been thrown into a cauldron of wildfire. Everything you do will annoy someone, whether it’s the Church of the Seven, the peasants or your rival rulers. To stay alive longer you must balance out your choices, throwing religious leaders a bone even though you hate them, or bunging some cash over to the Iron Bank. It’s quick-fire diplomacy, enlivened by random disasters and constant fleeting cameos from series’ gigantic cast.
Even disastrously brief rounds are fun, but there are deeper stories hidden in these micro-encounters that require persistence to unearth. Sometimes I’d be getting really invested in what was happening when an unlucky run of decisions would end my reign prematurely – this is part of Reigns’ design, but still occasionally dispiriting, as it can be ages before a promising scenario turns up again. Worrying about managing your popularity, wealth and power sometimes distracts from simply enjoying the amusing scenarios that the game throws up. The writing is great: concise but witty, always in-character, and peppered with references for Game of Thrones fans to relish.
It might look slight, but there are hours of schemes, conversations and grisly deaths tucked away in this game. Broadening your choice of rulers takes some time, and even the same situations play out differently when Tyrion is in charge rather than Sansa, especially when you’re playing in character. It’s great fun to step into the unenviable position of Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, and a far more enjoyable way to pass the time until the HBO series’ conclusion than combing through the books again for clues.

Reigns: Game of Thrones is available now; £3.99

Games,Mobile,Culture,PC,Game of Thrones

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