In the past few years, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. Martin has gained quite the cult following especially since the first book has been immortalized on television. The name of that show of course is Game of Thrones. The franchise is so popular that it has spawned board games, card games, and even video games. The latest addition to the franchise is Game of Thrones: Ascent.
Game of Thrones: Ascent is a new Facebook game that allows you to play a Lord or Lady in the land of Westeros. The game itself is more like a role playing game more than anything else. The game itself starts off in a time before the events of the first book. You are a hired hand working for the King of Westeros, Robert Baratheon, reporting to the Hand, John Arryn.
As a hired soldier, you will be sent on quests by the Hand to bring glory to the king and ensure peace throughout the land. The first quest is somewhat a tutorial that allows you to get used to the mechanics of the game. But to be honest, the game itself is more like having a decision box without much really going on in the game. It feels more like a dating simulation without the dating portion rather than a role playing game. A lot of the decisions in the game don’t really feel like much thought is needed. Then after you make your decision, actions are automatically resolved without even seeing much of it on the screen.
Your first quest in the game is to take care of a bunch of bandits. Once you make the decision to take the quest, you are then seen going after the bandits. When you are successful (like there was any other possible outcome, right?), you are then to be awarded by the King. You are then given a title where you become a Lord or Lady of a small realm. Don’t be ambitious though, the King is not giving you Winterfell or any of the major realms in Westeros. Haha. But at least with the title, you now carry some clout under the King’s guidance. You are then given a choice on how to accept the title. Are you using the title to bring more glory to the King or are you doing it for your family?
Elaborating the world of Westeros
It is at this point that you are given a chance to really explore your background and who you are as a character as it would influence the actions and decisions in the game at a later point. You can choose to be the noble bastard (somewhat a Jon Snow archetype), the loyal knight, the secret keeper, merchant and a host of other archetypes. Choose carefully as how characters treat you will differ based on the background you took.
Since you have gotten rid of the bandits, took over the keep they were hiding in and taken the title as Lord of that realm, you are given a Maester at your disposal. Maester’s as you may or may not be aware are like caretakers of castles and keeps. They are not tied to any one person but to the estate itself. Maester Lucas brings you up to speed on what has been happening in the keep and what they need to do to improve the conditions. He begins to instruct you on the need to start building structures in order for the keep to make money which will then be used for maintenance and to hire new soldiers.
Speaking of which, at this juncture you are informed that your sworn sword has arrived at the keep and is reporting for duty. Although he is injured, he says that he has sworn an oath to continue to work for you. You will then be given three choices all of which will make him your Captain of the Guard. It’s just a question of whether it was his idea, the Maester’s idea or your idea to do so. Again, those choices will have repercussions on the kind of relationship you will have with your current two employs.
Beware, complaints are coming
As you may have guessed by now, that this game tends to be linear in a sense as it follows a very generic pattern. While it does present a story and the choices do affect how the story unfolds, it feels like all your choices bring about the same ending regardless of what you do. It doesn't really feel like there’s all too much you can do except make choices.
Graphics in this game isn't really much. Actually, it’s virtually non-existent. I say this because the game relies heavily more on background art for the different locations that you will end up with and the art for the character avatars. Basically, it’s a bunch of pictures without a lot of moving parts. The most that you will see moving is the animation for when you click on decision boxes and when the game processes your request.
The game itself tends to also be rather laggy and does not respond right away. I've tried the game in both a desktop PC and on a laptop and the performance was the same; slow and unresponsive. You’ll probably be more frustrated with the game rather than enjoy it.
There isn't much to say for the audio. To be fair, the game’s sound effects and background music does add a very medieval fantasy feel to the game. Ambient music does not get repetitive or boring. But that’s about it. There isn't much spectacular to be said about the audio which is basically the only positive thing about this game.
Game of Thrones: Ascent is a good concept on paper; it allows you to be one of the power players in the Game of Thrones, you are presented with a background and the choices you make directly influence how your game will be. All of which are makings of a good RPG. However, execution of the game leads a lot to be desired. You don’t really feel engaged by the game. You don’t see a map, your character moving about and it’s all just story decisions one after the other. There isn't much in the game that will keep you playing and you’ll probably get bored after 15 minutes of gameplay. I sure was. As a franchise, there are many better games out there that one can enjoy the world that is A Song of Ice and Fire.