Published on July 17th, 2014 | by JC Richardson2
Game of Thrones Ascent Review
Something’s gone wonky in Westeros, with a Game of Thrones cash-in that wants to raid your coffers and cut open your coin purse. Ouch.
Set in George R R Martin’s world, and playing as the new noble in the kingdom, it’s up to you to build a keep, gather retainers and partake in the politics of power with a fairly well-plotted campaign that has you choosing various options to suit your chosen character. Your bard of a cousin has flirted with your wife – do you have him whipped in the dungeon, or use him as a disposable tool in the long game? There are quite a few strategies to choose from, and different paths give different rewards depending on whether you favour state over family, or violence over cunning, for example.
The problem with GOTA is that everything takes too damn long, unless you’re willing to open your real-world wallet. It’s a common enough problem in Android gaming, and at least it doesn’t quite reach Dungeon Keeper levels of excess. I managed to play for a whole hour before hitting a paywall, but this included a long tutorial where the timers on events are removed for free. Not so in the main campaign, unfortunately. Everything costs materials to build or upgrade, and materials can only be produced one item at a time – one piece of wood costs three gold to create instantly, and you have zero unless you buy it as an IAP. These go up to 650 gold for, I shit you not, £58 / $99.
For a big name tie-in, GOTA is surprisingly unpolished. At one point I was prompted to create a banner for my new noble and genuinely laughed when presented with some of the crappiest clip-art I’ve seen since Windows 95. The script is poor, and it’s hard to imagine Mr Martin signing off on this, what with anachronisms like characters talking about ‘blueprints’. Also, the lurching transitions between screens are, at best, jerky and constantly jar you out of the game. Sadly, it’s all just a bit tawdry, and if not for the Game of Thrones name this game would entirely pass most gamers by.
Summary: There's a massive gulf between the quality of the HBO production and this game's attempts to recreate it. There's a decent plot in there somewhere, but the game engine really doesn't want you to see it anytime soon.