Mention "Game of Thrones" and fans are likely to go off on a spiel about how wonderful the HBO series is the anticipation for the second season debuting April 1. Fans aren't the only ones excited for the return of the George R.R. Martin-inspired show -- Atlus, the game publisher responsible for recent releases "King of Fighters XIII" and "Rock of Ages" are also quite enthusiastic about the show's return, bring a role-playing experience to XBox 360 and Playstation 3 on April 15.
However, don't expect anything directly tied to the show. Cyanide Studios, the developer who previously released "Game of Thrones: Genesis" for PC, opted to source the game's content directly from Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels. That isn't to say fans won't recognize some of the familiar locales -- they just won't hear the likes of Peter Dinklage or Sean Bean reprising their characters.
In this action/role playing game, you'll take control selectively between two characters. The first is a Night Watch member named Mors and the second a Red Priest named Alester. Both have separate plot lines tying in to the main story, each driven by different tasks. Mors springs to action after receiving a letter from the Hand of the King that actually has him doubting his future as well as his position in Night Watch. Meanwhile after a 15-year absence, Alester returns to his hometown of Riverspring as a priest with R'hilor only to find trouble brewing.
Some familiarity with the series might help you with "Game of Thrones," but it isn't completely necessary when it comes to getting into the gameplay. You'll find yourself in several combat scenarios as well as situations where you'll have to give commands to keep your compatriots from dying. Not all of your decisions will be easy ones as the story's political intrigue and unsettling bloodletting indicate. What's more, you'll need to make these decisions quickly as the game requires you to make them in real-time, though the action slows down enough that you won't feel cheated.
Fans of both HBO's series and Martin's novels will find several familiar locations used throughout the game. Riverspring obviously makes an appearance as part of Alester's story while other locales include The Wall, Castlewood and King's Landing. Cyanide Studios is going through painstaking effort to retain the grittiness of both the source material and the TV series, even if some of the character models aren't highly detailed -- it shouldn't be enough to throw you off on the course of your journey.
Atlus estimates the game will take 30 hours to complete including side quests occasional party members or those interested in you will request. There's also the possibility of multiple endings depending on your painstaking decisions and how they affect others, keeping players coming back for more even with the brutal tone "Game of Thrones" will carry.
With the excitement surrounding "Game of Thrones" at a fever pitch for the second season premiering April 1, Atlus should have no problem convincing fans to try the game when it releases next month -- but it's up against some the high-fantasy role playing competition of Electronic Arts' "Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning" and WB Games' "Lord of the Rings: War In the North." Hopefully, an interactive return to the "Game of Thrones" universe will be enough of a draw for viewers and readers alike.
Atlus' "Game of Thrones" video game releases April 15 for XBox 360 and PlayStation 3.