It looks like Cyanide has been giving some sneak peek at the mysterious A Song of Ice and Fire roleplaying game they’re creating, to go along with the A Game of Thrones: Genesis RTS that we’ve reported on previously (disclosure: Linda and I have consulted for the game at an early stage, and are involved in some of the writing for it).
Two commentaries on what has been seen have been published, one by well-known French fan Evrach at La Garde de Nuit and the other—with some images!—has been posted by Factornews. Both are in French, but Evrach and Charles-Louis de Maere of Factor has provided us English translations which can be found below:
From La Garde de Nuit:
Like promised last week, here’s my review of the beta-test of Cyanide’s ASOIAF’s RPG “La Garde de Nuit”‘s members (including your humble servitor) made this week. For obvious legal reasons, nothing will be reavealed about the scenario or the gameplay, the project is still under the seal of secrecy and I don’t want to face a Faceless Man tomorrow. I’ll give you more informations as soon as Cyanide will allow us to do so.
So no more suspense: the game will be AMAZING. For people who feared that the game would betray GRRM’s universe with Septons summoning heal spells or red priests launching mass-fireballs on armies of snarks, DireWolves or dragons… reassure yourself ! The game will be perfectly coherent with the spirit of the Game of Thrones and the limitations due to the books.
No sacrifice was done to be politically correct, in the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. The feeling we have is dark, violent, realistic. We’re trapped into the Seven Kingdoms’ intrigues by a clever scenario, respecting the books events.
Graphics are great—well I don’t really have any point of comparison in fact, but it really looks great to me. Locations are wonderful and an amazing work has been made of characters. Even if the test was only about the ambiance and scenario, what I see about the gameplay and the fights looks various and entertaining.
Cyanide team is made up of fans who know perfectly the books and worked closely to GRRM and his assistant ,and their main preoccupation is to offer players the best they can with a game that is a tribute to the spirit of ASOIAF while proposing a good RPG with action, twists and charismatic characters.
Of course the game is not perfect, and each of the testers pointed out points to ameliorate, and the production team took good notes of our remarks, and the game will be improved.
We came to this test with a great worry, because of the difficulties to adapt a book like ASOIAF with almost no monsters and no magic, because “licence”-games are often bad quality, and because Cyanide is a small studio. Finaly, we’re really enthousiatsics and reassured, even if we have not test deeply the gameplay.
Again a big thanks to Sylvain and all Cyanide’s team that invited us for this test.
In addition to their RTS A Game of Thrones: Genesis, Cyanide is also preparing a narrative RPG set in George R.R. Martin’s universe. Information about this title are scarce to say the least, so we decided to break into Cyanide’s office in order to know more. Luckily for us, we didn’t have to go far as the title is being developed by the Paris team.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Song of Ice and Fire saga, we are talking about a mature, brutal and gritty medieval world, with only hints of fantasy. Centuries ago, Dragons and Magic were commonplace but, with the last dragons extinct, all that remains are fading memories of these times. The current ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, Robert Baratheon, won the Iron Throne some twenty years ago, putting an end to centuries of Targaryen rule. On the surface, his court seems to fully support this king, while scheming and forging new alliances behind his back.
To the North, we find the Wall, a huge structure built eons ago by assembling stone and ice, and protecting the southern kingdoms from wildlings and the mysterious Others. There, the Brothers of the Night Watch stand guard. Their sole purpose is to protect Westeros from the North. Among their ranks, we find cutthroats and murderers who got to choose between a death sentence or the Wall, but also younger sons of noblemen who couldn’t inherit the family lands. Once you say your vows and become a sworn Brother, there’s no way of leaving. Deserters are punished by a nice swing of the axe, just below the neck.
AGoT, the RPG, embarks us in a new adventure set in Westeros set during the timeline of the first book. We won’t be involved directly in the events described by Martin but will feel their effects on the world around us. We might also encounter a few characters from the book, like Varys the Spider. In order to live up to the richly detailed universe from the Song of Ice and Fire books, Cyanide has chosen to offer us a story-driven RPG, citing Planescape Torment, Baldur’s Gate II and KOTOR as their main influence. As with the books, the story will be presented from the point of view of two main characters. These characters all have their background woven in the story which we’ll discover during the course of the game so there’s no customizing of your character’s aspect. However, we’ll get to choose from three available classes (they are not final as I write this) which in turn give access to specific skillsets. The skillsets define some of the combos you’ll use during combat. Once you have selected your class, skillset and increased a few skills and attributes, you’ll start to play as Mors Westford, a Sworn Brother of the Night Watch.
A patrol just returned to Castle Black, the headquarters of the Watch, bringing back a deserter. The starting sequence introduces us to the world of the Watch and ends with the beheading of the one who betrayed his Brothers by running away. The writing is definitely dark and gritty, nothing is black and white here. Just like in The Witcher, we can define how we react in conversations. Some replies will just be there to set the tone, others will have an impact on the main storyline.
After the introduction sequence using the game’s engine, it’s time for some combat training. The Watch just got a batch of new recruits and Mors teaches these guys how it’s done. AGoT—RPG is not a hack’n slash, so pressing the buttons wildly will not accomplish anything. Instead, you’ll have to select your attack types using the skill wheel. Selecting the skills doesn’t stop the game, but puts it into an active slow-motion phase so you’d better know what you are doing. Choosing for too long might get you killed. This slow-motion phase also allows you to choose your actions depending on the evolution of the fight. Each character can chain up to three skills that will be executed in order. Mors being a skinchanger, his dog can assist him during combat (he can e.g. go for the throat of your enemies). Later on, you’ll also be able to give orders to your other party members during combat.
As with the books, Cyanide has tried to get the chapters of the game end in dramatic cliffhangers. At the end of the first chapter, we get to try and stop a wildling invasion through a breach in the Wall, and Mors falls unconscious after a gruesome fight with the leader of this invasive force.
The curtains fall and Chapter II starts four months earlier. Alester Sarwyck returns to Westeros after 15 years of exile across the Narrow Sea. Heir of the Sarwyck family, he returns to Springwater castle for his father’s funeral. During his exile, he stopped praying to the Seven Gods of Westeros, and became a Red Priest of R’hllor. During the funeral, in the castle’s godswood, he gives the kiss of fire to his father’s corpse (a traditional ritual of the red priesthood, like extreme unction), shocking all the family members and increasing the tension between all those present (no worries, his father is buried). The situation was already difficult enough with his younger brother missing and one of his bastard brothers setting claim on the Springwater castle because Alester has been gone too long. In the city, the people are starving and, before you know it, the citizens are in uproar all over the city. It’s time to try out Alester’s combat skills. Being a Red Priest, we will be able to choose from three classes with more agility than the ones of the Night Watch.
From what we were shown, we were glad to see that the game features a universe really close to George R.R. Martin’s books. You have family members overtly hating or preparing to backstab each other, we have a once mighty force like the Night Watch counting on convicts to grow their ranks, all the ingredients for a rich scenario seem present. Even though we don’t know yet whether there’ll be sex, we know for sure we’ll get to visit Mole Town in the course of the game. The active slow-motion combat adds strategy to combat, while maintaining a constant pace to it.
Among the other interesting features of the game, Mors’ skinchanger ability allows him to enter his dog’s mind, effectively controlling him. The dog will be able to eavesdrop any conversation or go through cracks in the wall too small for Mors. Later on, he will also be able to pick up scents, similar to the werewolf scenes in Discworld Noir. AGoT—RPG plays like Divinity II or The Witcher : the game world is no open world (Westeros is HUGE), but rather a number of interconnected game zones. Even though the main quest is linear, secondary quests will give you the opportunity to return to previously visited areas. Speaking of secondary quests, they will not be indicated by a big yellow exclamation mark on top of a character, but rather take place around you. If you see some ruffians attacking the armoury, you may decide to leave them be. However, don’t come crying if you can’t buy weapons later on in the game because it was destroyed.
One thing’s certain, from what we were shown, Cyanide really nailed Martin’s universe in their game. The wildling attack on the Wall shows a brutal world, a desperate attack beneath an unbelievably high wall. In order to make sure they remain coherent with the universe, they work closely with Elio M. Garcia and Linda Antonsson from http://www.westeros.org, as well as with the author himself. With no release date set, the only things we know for sure is that the game will be made available on PC as well as X360 and PS3, and that it’ll come out after A Dance With Dragons. From what we’ve seen, AGoT RPG is a title that should be watched closely.