It seems a little strange how few Game of Thrones video games we've actually gotten. Outside of Telltale's rather lame episodic series, a forgettable RTS, and a ho-hum RPG, it seems like no one really wants to give the series an honest shot. However, Dead by Daylight developer's Behaviour Interactive is now stepping into the ring with Game of Thrones: Beyond the Wall, a mobile tactic game based on the series. I got a chance to try the game out. Does it let me win the throne?
Taking place 48 years before the start of the show, Beyond the Wall puts you into the boots of Alvar Spyre, the commander of the Night's Watch. When its former commander goes missing on the other side of the Wall, Alvar begins to make plans to venture forth and find his missing companion. Along the way, there's political intrigue and backstabbing of all sorts, the kind you'd expect from Game of Thrones. This isn't a retelling of any of the books or shows, Beyond the Wall's plot is an original story that should do a good enough job keeping both fans and newcomers informed and entertained.
Beyond the Wall doesn't play that different than many other mobile tactics games. You'll pick a small party, have them move around a grid, and attack enemies using swords, bows, and other fantasy gear. Much like Fire Emblem, whenever you attack someone they'll immediately counterattack, so you need to be careful when ordering your soldiers around. Each character also has special abilities that charge over rounds, letting them do things like strike multiple enemies or hit a single enemy for extra damage.
It's honestly nothing you haven't seen before, but it all works well enough. Fights feel rather snappy, most ending within just a couple of turns. It's nice to feel like you can sit down and move things along quickly, especially in a mobile environment. I never quite felt like I needed expert tactics, but it was nice to think a bit about my moves.
There are two major categories of troops you can bring into battle. Units are just that, regular members of the Night's Watch that will fight alongside you. You can level them up, promote them, upgrade their gear, and all the stuff you'd expect. Once a unit hits their max level you can then retire them, letting you hang their shield in Castle Black and give your troops permanent passive buffs. It's a smart way to make sure you're swapping units around and also reward getting rid of some.
The other category is heroes, the named characters of the world. With both original characters that you earn in the game and fan favorites from the show here, heroes are stronger than regular units and can come with unique skills. Each map usually allows a single hero and some units to accompany them, and picking the right hero for the job is often going to be the difference between life and death.
One interesting way to earn heroes comes from a feature called Legendary Events. You can use the weirwood tree in Castle Black to see into the future, allowing you to play scenes from the show. For example, early on you use it to look into the future and get to play out Jon Snow's first encounter with the wights. Finish this, and you'll earn Jon Snow as a hero you can use in combat. I'm interested to see what other moments from the show will be represented here.
There's an abundance of other features that I didn't get a chance to check out, but certainly seem interesting. Once a week The Wall will be attacked, and you need to gather your forces to defend it. Giants will show up and you can team up with other players to try and deal as much damage to them as possible. You can create teams of characters and put them in an arena, allowing you to send them to fight other player's teams. There are randomized journies to find more weirwood trees beyond The Wall, and you can choose which path to follow, getting you random battles and rewards.
Of course, as a free to play game, Beyond the Wall needs to find ways to charge players. Bread serves as the main energy currency, and you need to spend a little every time you commit to actions, with it slowly recharging over time. You also need to spend various materials to upgrade your units, and you can either earn these materials in-game or spend money on them. If you've played any other free to play mobile RPG then these payment options shouldn't surprise you in the least, and if you didn't really find them acceptable in other games you won't care for them here.
However, if you're looking for a new mobile game to occupy some time on your commute, toilet, or anywhere else you mobile game, Game of Thrones: Beyond the Wall is a solid choice. In my time with it, I had enough fun that I could see myself getting through the story mode and messing around with some of the extra features. It won't change anyone's mind on the genre, but it will keep them entertained well enough.
TechRaptor previewed Game of Thrones: Beyond the Wall on iOS using a copy provided by the developer. The game launches on March 26th for iOS devices, and April 3rd for Android.