Reigns was a fascinating decision-making game that came out a couple of years ago and gathered a following thanks to its minimalist mechanics and expressive art style. Quite literary every decision is binary, there's no nuance and that's what makes it excruciating as every decision has a consequence. You need to balance out your choices and survive for as long as you can.
Reigns was followed by Reigns: Her Majesty and as the name suggests you played as a queen, but now the time has come for Reigns to take on Game of Thrones, Westeros, and The Iron Throne. Basically, you start to play as Daenerys and you will unlock more of the main players to put on the throne as you reach objectives. Cersei, Jon Snow, Sansa, and so on. Each has perks you'll unlock that will help them deal with different types of dangers. Daenerys can summon a dragon to deal with certain threats. Tyrion has a knack for finding coin when he needs it the most. Jon Snow has authority to push through when others objects. Everything aids your ability to survive longer, but in the end, Winter is coming so if you've managed to survive the church, the nobility, the army, and the Iron Bank, then the Night King might very well get you or perhaps the Black cloaks will.
The basic mechanics of Reigns remain. You get cards with two options, each with consequences. Left. Left. Right. Right. Left. Right. Left. Death. We mentioned the four factions you need to balance in the paragraph above - allow them too much power or neglect them and they will crush you in interesting ways. In fact, the game has 29 endings and unlocking them all is likely going to take you a fair amount of time. From taking a bath in wildfire to being skewered by 40 swords, there's a lot of ways to die here. As there should be, it's Game of Thrones after all.
The fiction lends itself perfectly to this concept, and the main difference here is that instead of death resulting in a new heir taking over and continuing, you start over. There's plenty of references in the game, and if you're not up to speed with the TV series, do not play this game as you will spoil your experience. Then again you've had plenty of time to catch up (the last season cannot come soon enough).
The fact that the game makes use of the more recent events in the show doesn't mean you can't take wildly different paths than the characters would in the actual fiction. Here you can try Cersei for her crimes and execute her if that's what you want and new alliances may be possible. If you're playing as Cersei though, your options for being nice to Tyrion are rather limited. It is a bit hard to favour the church as Jon Snow (who after all has more to thank the Red God than the Seven) and help houses that may have played a part in murdering a family member of yours.
In addition to the standard left and right choices there are events that are like mini-missions, still using the left and right formula you may take a trip up to Winterfell and face dangers or perhaps try and gain information in a tavern and get yourself into a brawl. There are small council meetings as well where you have options on what to focus on, diplomacy (interacting with your enemies, which usually leads nowhere), projects (rebuild the Sept of Baelor?), and secrets (whether it's Varys or not who's in charge of this there are some interesting choices).
For the most part, the writing and design are superb and perfectly in line with the fiction, even if some answers are a bit vague in terms of what you're actually agreeing to or not. It's a learning process then, and with experimentation you learn what sort of effects the various cards trigger, thus increasing your chances of survival. There's a slight element of trial and error, but the cards won't land in the same order next time so no two playthroughs will be the same.
There's really two objectives to playing Reigns Game of Thrones. Surviving with one character for as long as possible (which is tricky in Westeros) and achieving the conditions to unlock a new character to put on the Iron Throne. Oh, and if you're macabre you'll want to experience all the way in which your regent can meet his or her end. An update to the game during our review process meant our progress was wiped and interestingly this actually allowed us to see that the order in which you unlock characters is not fixed in any way (even if it seems like you'll always unlock Tyrion after Daenerys).
We really enjoyed our time with the game, and while for the most part it's simply a reskin of Reigns, if you enjoy this sort of experience it's easy to recommend. It's also a perfect fit on mobile as each playthrough is relatively quick.
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