Winter is here for Game of Thrones fans, as after almost two years, the critically-acclaimed fantasy drama has returned to our screens for its final season. HBO’s adaptation of George RR Martin’s epic literary saga is a monumental achievement, and will apparently go out with a bang, with some of the biggest battles ever depicted on screen.
With its violent and imaginative mythology, it’s no surprise that Game of Thrones has struck a chord with many in the game-playing community. While a few tie-ins have come our way over the years, there has yet to be a licensed Game of Thrones game that truly matches the scale, depth, and excitement the show provides.
So, in order to fully immerse ourselves in the hype for Season 8, we’ve compiled a list of eight games that make us feel like a hero, villain, or morally-grey citizen of Westeros.
The night is dark and full of terrors and this article may contain spoilers, so proceed at your own risk. Oh, and we won’t be mentioning the dreadful 2012 tie-in from Atlus USA – this game has been banished to the Wall for crimes against the crown.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Although Game of Thrones author George RR Martin hails from New Jersey, his chief inspiration for creating the World of Ice and Fire comes from medieval European history. While magic exists in Martin’s world, it’s hidden away – and always comes at a great cost. Many of Westeros’ greatest knights – Sandor Clegane, Arthur Dayne, Jaime Lannister, and many more – earn victory through sheer brutality and endurance. One game that captures the gritty lifestyle of a medieval knight is Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
Kingdom Come is an action-RPG that is set apart from the rest by its devotion to historical realism. You’ll have no red priestess to save you here. Instead, you must rely on your wits and skill with a sword, and both will take work to maintain. You must manage your stamina and hunger to survive, while mastering a vast array of skills from lockpicking to weapon-honing to complete the quests available to you, all the while building your proficiency in the precise first-person combat. It’s a harsh world, but one packed with rewards for those who can persevere through its many challenges.
Like Game of Thrones, Kingdom Come doesn’t shy away from the less savoury aspects of medieval culture, either. Fans of the exploits of Tyrion Lannister will appreciate the ribaldry of this game’s cast, who run the gamut from lovable rogue to tyrannical lord, all of whom can be interacted with in a variety of authentic scenarios.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Look, we know we don’t have to tell you why to play The Witcher 3. It’s a critically acclaimed classic that has transcended its genre to become a generation-defining fan-favourite. Despite its ubiquity, it’s still worth highlighting just how brilliant The Witcher series is, especially for those prone to dark and sexy fantasy worlds.
Much like Game of Thrones, The Witcher game series is based on a long-running series of fantasy novels, drawing upon a richly detailed fictional universe based on European mythology. The Witcher novels were penned by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and deal with similar themes to A Song of Ice and Fire, mixing fantastical adventure with political intrigue and personal drama.
CD Projekt Red’s titles bring Sapkowski’s unique world to life in gorgeous detail which has yet to be surpassed. It’s not quite as open-ended as some of the other games on this list, but if you’re looking for a narrative experience that is as captivating and merciless as HBO’s blockbuster, The Witcher 3 should be your first port of call.
This little-known entry in the Elder Scrolls series flew under many fantasy fans’ radars when it sneaked out in 2011, but give this hidden gem a chance, and you’ll discover a pretty solid fantasy RPG.
Ok, enough of that. Obviously, Bethesda’s vast open-world RPG is a genre-defining title, which set the standard for games of its type and, despite its technical shortcomings, is considered by many to be a masterwork. Whether you’re running errands in an unassuming farming village or battling dragons atop a majestic mountain peak, it’s easy to lose yourself in the vibrant world of Tamriel.
Aesthetically, Skyrim is already pretty Thrones-esque, but take a venture into the world of modding and you can transform Tamriel into the Seven Kingdoms proper. There are several mods which will help you bring some Westeros flavour to your Skyrim experience, but by far the most comprehensive is the Game of Thrones Adaptation Mod. It changes character models, dialogue, environments, armour, items and more to give you a truly immersive journey through George RR Martin’s dark mythology.
Dark Souls III
One of the most fascinating aspects of the world of Game of Thrones is the supernatural forces that exist at the fringes. Although the Gods of Ice and Fire play a background role in the show, they’re given more detail in the books, and many fans have speculated that they’re the real driving force behind the events we see unfold in the story. There are many gods and terrifying creatures present in Martin’s world – the red god R’hllor, The Drowned God, The Great Other, the Old Gods, and the Deep Ones, all of which are indisputably influenced by the work of HP Lovecraft.
Another pop culture touchstone that mixes medieval fantasy with Lovecraftian horror is FromSoftware’s Dark Souls series. Although Dark Souls isn’t as fixated on cosmic horror as it its action-RPG cousin Bloodborne – let us have a PC version, Sony – the spirit of the influential author can be felt throughout the Dark Souls series. Especially in Dark Souls 3, many bosses feel like they could be plucked straight from Martin’s books.
The Deacons of the Deep strongly resemble the crazed priests of R’hllor, while the Curse-rotted Greatwood could easily be a weirwood tree brought to terrifying life. The unforgiving nature of FromSoftware’s games is also starkly reminiscent of Martin’s work – so much so that it’s rumoured the author is collaborating with FromSoftware on a new title currently in the works.
Telltale’s Game of Thrones
As one of the few officially licensed Game of Thrones videogames, Telltale’s five-part choose-your-own-adventure game sticks pretty close to the blueprint laid down by the show. It allows you to step into the shoes of a handful of original characters struggling to survive the cruel lands of Westeros and Essos as Winter approaches. Unlike Telltale’s The Walking Dead, this series is based on the show rather than the books, and as such features many of its top-tier actors reprising their roles.
While interacting with the likes of Cersei Lannister, Ramsay Bolton, and Daenerys Targaryen certainly has its charms, the fact that the plot is so inseparable to events of the show means that it’s difficult to care much about your player characters, knowing that they ultimately will have little impact on the overall plot.
Then there’s the unfortunate fact that the series ends on a cliffhanger, which will never be resolved due to Telltale sadly closing its doors before the second season could be completed. The unfinished story and aged visuals make this series difficult to recommend, but despite this, Telltale’s take on Thrones does feel remarkably authentic, and so it’s still worth a look for mega fans.
Reigns: Game of Thrones
Looking for a kingdom ruling sim but don’t have time to learn knotty game mechanics? Look no further than Reigns. In Reigns: Game of Thrones, you step into the shoes of various prospective rulers, including Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, and Tyrion Lannister. Your job is to manage the royal coin, military campaigns, the faith, and more. Sounds complex, right? But the unique brilliance of Reigns lies in its simplicity.
The many dilemmas of ruling are presented to you with cards that you can respond to with a left or right swipe – a simple binary choice that can have dire consequences. Essentially, it’s doing for management sims what Tinder did for online dating. It couldn’t be more simple to understand but, like all strategy games, it’s hard to master, requiring you to carefully think through each move and all of its possible outcomes.
What really makes this game great is its writing. You’ll fend off barbs from master of whisperers Varys, spar with the Lannisters, and get into shouting matches with Greyjoys – each represented in the instantly recognisable cadence of the Thrones mythology. Despite its simplicity, there is a lot to love in Reigns: Game of Thrones, and it’s arguably the best game adaptation of the series yet.
Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia
One of the most impressive parts of Game of Thrones is the epic scale of its battle scenes. Clashes like the Battle of Castle Black or the Battle of the Bastards are unlike anything else seen on the small screen, and rival even the Lord of the Rings films in their sheer enormity. When it comes to large-scale battles, there’s only one game series that truly captures the spirit of the Clash of Kings, and that’s Total War.
Total War is one of the most popular historical strategy game series out there, with entries that span across a range of time periods and settings including Feudal Japan, the Roman Empire, and Medieval Britain. The World of Ice and Fire borrows elements from all of these periods of history, but for the best game experience that aligns with the most iconic battles of the TV show, we’d recommend Thrones of Britannia.
Although there are no white walkers in Total War, you can faithfully recreate Jon Snow’s skirmish with Ramsay Bolton – albeit without the giant. Controlling your troops from a top-down perspective, Total War really makes you feel like a battle commander, leading your troops to victory using tactics alone. It helps that Thrones of Britannia also just looks stunning. Defending a keep from a siege by Vikings is a thrilling experience in its own right, but it’s also as close as you’re likely to get to feeling like Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch repelling wildlings from the Wall.
Crusader Kings II
Venturing back into the annals of history, Crusader Kings II is a medieval dynasty simulator which gives you the chance to build a legacy using diplomacy, or fire and blood. Once again, those wonderful internet folk have stepped up to make our nerdy interests even more nerdy with the Crusader Kings II: A Game of Thrones mod.
Like the view? Call the shots in the best strategy games on PC
Much like Skyrim’s GoT mod, this wonderful bit of user-generated content will transform the game world into an impressively faithful recreation of the continents of Westeros and Essos, complete with all of your favourite cities, strongholds, and houses.
As the developers explain, the mod will allow you to explore ‘What if?’ scenarios that didn’t occur in the books or show, such as if Stannis and Renly joined forces against Joffrey, or if Robb Stark had swerved the Red Wedding and continued his campaign in the War of the Five Kings. It’s a thoroughly engrossing mod to an already superb strategy game and is absolutely worth a look for any fan of the genre.