The Game of Thrones books may be as long-winded as Stephen King, and the game seems to match it evenly, but fortunately, the Game of Thrones strategy guide cuts to the chase. In fact, this guide reminds me a lot of the strategy guide for The Witcher 2, both in its layout and its efficiency. And thank God for that. You really don’t want to sit through these cut scenes more than once, trust me, and this guide will really help you avoid repeat viewings (in case you aren’t aware, you can’t skip through cut scenes…AT ALL).
I greatly appreciated the extra assistance the strategy guide provided when it came to making decisions for leveling up. Characters level up very similarly to what you see in Dragon Age or Kingdoms of Amalur. However, at least in those two games, you are very aware of what you are, whether you are a warrior, a mage, a rogue, etc. In GoT, classes are named from titles in the books, such as sellsword and water dancer. Even if you have read the books–like I have–it’s not immediately obvious how you should be leveling up your character, especially if you have taken a breather in between gaming sessions. The strategy guide helps alleviate this confusion by giving suggestions of abilities each class should focus on in order to be more effective. I typically play similar classes in every RPG I play, but even I wasn’t sure if my Landed Knight was more of a warrior or a brute. The difference? One has skills with a sword and shield whereas the other prefers two-handed weapons. The skills offered and needed for these types of combat vary greatly, and once you choose a skill, there’s no going back.
I only wish that the guide had implemented these suggestions throughout the walkthrough. For instance, before big boss fights or large encounters, offer suggestions on what skills your character should have at this point in time. However, on the flip side of the coin, the guide never recommends class-specific abilities during your battles, so in that regard, making such skill suggestions seems unnecessary. At the same time, the strategies for the boss battles come across as very generic and provide little beyond “don’t die.” Instead, it explains the boss’s tactics and makes suggestions how best to use Mors’ warg abilities and Alester’s R’hollor priest abilities. Everything else is left up to the player to determine.
You can get in fights with virtually anyone at any time, whether you’re investigating, looking for a fight, or just wandering around a village. Sometimes this is a good idea, and sometimes it’s horrendous. The strategy guide was always quick to point out where I should go first before picking a fight with a particular group of disgruntled peasants. If you didn’t want to fight, and it’s possible to avoid it with words, you are always given a heads up beforehand. I absolutely hated the combat system in GoT, so I was all for talking my way out of confrontations. (If you’ve played the game, you know which character I absolutely hated working with. He died a lot.)
Like any good RPG, Game of Thrones is inundated with sidequests. Like any good RPG strategy guide, the Game of Thrones strategy guide keeps the sidequest walkthroughs separate from the main walkthrough. All sidequests are noted when they can be triggered and where/what it takes to trigger them, but all details of the sidequests are kept in a separate section, away from the main walkthrough. It helps alleviate the potential clutter, which is always greatly appreciated, especially if you have little desire in completing all of them or even any of them. For instance, one of the first sidequests you can unlock involves a statue hunting fetch quest, which sounds just as fun as it really is. If you want to skip it, you can easily do so because that sidequest walkthrough isn’t smack dab in the middle of your main walkthrough, forcing you to read ahead and find which page you now need.
The guide’s largest fault is its spoilers. The plot of the game is very succinctly laid out for you, so if you glance ahead either to look up something in particular or inadvertently, chances are great that you will see a plot spoiler. The strategy guide even goes as far as detailing each possible ending down to what is said and includes screenshots. On the one hand, some users may appreciate this so they can make the most well-informed choice possible toward the end, but this is downright overkill. By the end of the game, I felt like I didn’t need to have played at all; why bother discovering the story for yourself when you can read it line for line, whether you mean to or not?
The Game of Thrones strategy guide is definitely a great tourist guide for those looking to survive at any length of time in the treacherous world of Westeros. That said, all users must be prepared for little guidance when it comes to boss battles and prepared to avert eyes to avoid spoilers as much as possible.