Spend less time managing your business and spend more time doing what you love. Regain control now!

Reigns: Game of Thrones Review

With Game of Thrones on hiatus before its eighth and final season, fans can get their fix of their favorite characters and join in the intrigue with Reigns: Game of Thrones, which was developed by UK-based Nerial and published by Devolver Digital. The announcement of the game in August came as something of a surprise because it’s not often that a media company the size of HBO entrusts the characters and story behind one of its most popular shows to a small independent game studio. At the same time, however, the combination felt like a perfectly natural evolution of the Reigns series. Reigns: Game of Thrones, which was released today, doesn’t disappoint.

Reigns was released in 2016 and quickly garnered rave reviews and fans. As king, Reigns presented players with a series of decisions from advisors and subjects that they had to make by swiping an on-screen card left or right, Tinder-style. The simplicity of the mechanic belied a deep story with lots of personality. Those binary decisions had consequences, which could quickly spin out of control leading to your violent overthrow. The complex paths the story could lead as a result of simple swiping left and right set up a clever contrast that’s at the heart of why the game is so fun to play.

In the follow-up, Reigns: Her Majesty, which I reviewed last year, you played as the queen. Her Majesty took the best parts of the original game and added depth. There were more cards, which meant less repetition, and more emphasis on the relationships of the characters, so it felt less like a kingdom simulation. The result was a more story-focused game that drew you into its world and was hard to put down.

The same elements that made Reigns and Her Majesty successes are at play in Reigns: Game of Thrones. There’s a strong emphasis on the characters and story, which will be familiar to anyone who has watched the show on HBO. This time around, the writing is just as solid as in the past but does an excellent job of translating the characters and atmosphere of the show into the game’s format accompanied by the soundtrack from the series, which lends an extra layer of drama to everything.

The art of the original games has been preserved too, which I was glad to see. The characters from the show are recognizable, but so is the art style, which is carried over from the earlier games. The artwork, paired with the strong writing and character development of the original games, fits perfectly with Game of Thrones, making the two feel like a natural match and not a franchise shoe-horned into a white-label game structure. The game is further enhanced by not being too tightly tied to the story told in the series, which gives players something to explore beyond the boundaries of the stories that have been told in the series.

In Reigns: Game of Thrones, you can play as one of several characters that are unlocked as you progress, including Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and others. Along the way, there are a series of mini-games that involve things like jousting, battling enemies, and fighting in taverns. The game also tracks a series of objectives that come up throughout the game, which include 49 royal deeds, 29 different ways your reign can end in death, and a portrait gallery of 60 characters you encounter throughout the game. The number of cards discovered is tracked too. Although the total number of cards is not disclosed in the game, my sense from playing it is that there are many more than in Reigns: Her Majesty, which itself had far more cards than the original game.

It’s been interesting to see Reigns evolve since the original game was released. Follow-ups to successful games that employ a similar formula are hard to get right, but Nerial has managed to improve Reigns with each subsequent release. The latest game remains familiar and fun in the same ways the originals were, but there is added depth, detail, and little touches that have kept the formula for getting old. Add to that the masterstroke of adapting the game to the storyline of Game of Thrones and you’ve got a fantastic game that I hope leads to many new players discovering Nerial’s earlier work too.

Reigns: Game of Thrones is available on the App Store for $3.99.

Unlock More with Club MacStories

Founded in 2015, Club MacStories has delivered exclusive content every week for over six years.

In that time, members have enjoyed nearly 400 weekly and monthly newsletters packed with more of your favorite MacStories writing as well as Club-only podcasts, eBooks, discounts on apps, icons, and services. Join today, and you’ll get everything new that we publish every week, plus access to our entire archive of back issues and downloadable perks.

The Club expanded in 2021 with Club MacStories+ and Club Premier. Club MacStories+ members enjoy even more exclusive stories, a vibrant Discord community, a rotating roster of app discounts, and more. And, with Club Premier, you get everything we offer at every Club level plus an extended, ad-free version of our podcast AppStories that is delivered early each week in high-bitrate audio.

Choose the Club plan that’s right for you:

  • Club MacStories: Weekly and monthly newsletters via email and the web that are brimming with app collections, tips, automation workflows, longform writing, a Club-only podcast, periodic giveaways, and more;
  • Club MacStories+: Everything that Club MacStories offers, plus exclusive content like Federico’s Automation Academy and John’s Macintosh Desktop Experience, a powerful web app for searching and exploring over 6 years of content and creating custom RSS feeds of Club content, an active Discord community, and a rotating collection of discounts, and more;
  • Club Premier: Everything in from our other plans and AppStories+, an extended version of our flagship podcast that’s delivered early, ad-free, and in high-bitrate audio.