Reigns: Game of Thrones review
App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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For my money, I'm hard-pressed to think of a licensed game idea that is better than the combining the gameplay of Reigns with the Game of Thrones universe. Even though Nerial's swipe-based management formula feels a bit long in the tooth and the latest season of Game of Thrones felt like a bombastic waiting game, Reigns: Game of Thrones manages to squeeze some novel fun out of these two aging properties.
The combination of Reigns and Game of Thrones makes so much sense because so much of both revolve around the decisions of individual characters as they try to rule over a kingdom. Development house Nerial seems to understand this very well, as all of Reigns: Game of Thrones has you inhabiting the role of nine different characters from Westeros as they try to keep a handle on everything from the upkeep of King's Landing to the the impending Walker invasion.
If you've played a Reigns game before, this game should be more than familiar to you. You play as a ruler and are presented with certain choices. You choose how to deal with those choices by swiping left or right to pick one or two answers, with your ultimate goal being to keep your kingdom in balance for as long as possible.
I know how this game is played
By and large, the biggest change to the Reigns formula here is that there are Game of Thrones characters included. There are a few new systems for waging wars and holding small council meetings, but these are ultimately just different ways of doing the same kinds of things you've done in every Reigns game.
The amazing thing about all this though is that the simple inclusion of folks like Jon Snow and Cersei Lannister into a Reigns game has a bigger impact on the game than you might think. As it turns out, having a familiarity with existing characters gives the Reigns format a little more liveliness, plus Nerial was smart to give abilities to certain characters that reflect their personalities in the show. This makes for a game that doesn't have as much guesswork as its predecessors while also feeling like a truly well-executed Game of Thrones tie-in experience.
The Lannisters always pay their debts… ALWAYS
As neat as it is to be swiping to make decisions about brewing more wildfire, whether or not to go to Winterfell, or what to do about the pesky ironborn, Reigns: Game of Thrones is unfortunately a little too predictable. Before you’ve unlocked every playable character, you’ll inevitably have seen a bunch of the same scenes play out over and over again, and they all play out the same way every time you encounter them.
Take for example, the game’s diplomacy system, where you can initiate conversations with other houses at small council meetings. Any time you choose to speak with the Lannisters, they say their same lines about how mighty and rich they are, and you can always manipulate them into peace by restricting their line of credit. It doesn’t matter what else you’ve done with your reign up to that point or even which character you’re playing as. The same thing happens, which can make stretches of playing Reigns: Game of Thrones feel tedious at times.
The bottom line
I don’t love Reigns or Game of Thrones all that much at this point, but Reigns: Game of Thrones combines the two properties in a way that—though simple—is surprisingly enjoyable. It’s fun to feel like you’re in control of Westeros, even if it’s only for a little bit before you meet some terrible demise. There’s enough clever things that Nerial does with George R.R. Martin’s fantasy universe that makes Reigns: Game of Thrones worth checking out if you have any affinity for the show or books.