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Reigns: Game of Thrones lets you swipe right to sit on the Iron Throne

Coming this October for iOS, Android and PC

The next entry in the Reigns series is coming this fall, and it’s a big one. Reigns: Game of Thrones takes the core Reigns mechanics and art style, fleshes out the gameplay with a number of new minigames and features, and maps it all to the world of Westeros.

What makes this game even more interesting than your usual adaptation is that, rather than retell key points in George R. R. Martin’s series, Reigns: Game of Thrones instead lets you play a series of what-ifs — as in, “What if my favorite character ruled from the Iron Throne?” and the natural Reigns follow-up question, “How quickly will my favorite character die this time?”

Reigns: Game of Thrones - Lord Rylon of House Lannister Nerial/Devolver Digital

For the uninitiated, Reigns is about balancing the power of four factions (military, church, people and wealth). With each round, you’re asked to make one of two choices by swiping right or left. Each decision will cause the factions to rise and fall in power; if one faction gets too weak or too powerful, your reign at the top comes to an often-violent end. Though it can take several deaths to understand how decisions will influence the world, there is a logic to it, and balancing does compel the narrative in surprising ways. For example, I never want to make a decision that hurts the people, but if they’ve become too powerful and a plague hits the cities … yeah, honestly, I’m gonna let the plague happen so that my monarchy can survive at least a few more turns. (The first Reigns title launched in August 2016. Its sequel, Reigns: Her Majesty, came out December 2017.)

Reigns: Game of Thrones follows the same conceit and mechanic, only now it adds familiar faces both as playable rulers — including Daenerys, Tyrion, Cersei and Sansa — as well as characters that will come to help/hinder your rule. There are at least nine characters that can sit on the Iron Throne; in my time with an early build of the game, I’ve managed to unlock about half. At various points, characters can also obtain certain perks or curses that will change the gameplay. Tyrion, for example, can almost always talk his way out of debt with the Iron Bank, meaning he cannot lose a game if wealth drops to nil.

Each playthrough begins with your character as ruler, and each playthrough ultimately ends with your character’s demise. Dying is a key element of the Reigns series, as a larger narrative plays out over generations of kings and queens. Reigns: Game of Thrones is no different; with each death, the game resets on Melisandre the Red Priestess, looking through the flames and trying to see what would happen if this or that person ruled the Iron Throne. It’s through this conceit that you can play as Jon Snow (and subsequently watch him die) dozens of times.

Reigns: Game of Thrones - King Tyrion emerges from the flames Nerial/Devolver Digital

Reigns: Game of Thrones also adds some variety in the gameplay. At various stages, you’ll be able to select branching paths — say, follow this person to a tavern rather than continuing to make binary choices. It’s a small change, but one that allows for new ways of progressing the story. The build I played also introduced a mechanic involving staring down certain characters through your front-facing camera, but that feature felt like a work in progress at this stage.

I’ve only put in a few hours into an early build, but so far, Reigns: Game of Thrones feels like the most expansive entry in the series — the rare mobile game that seems to benefit from being based on an existing IP.

The official Reigns Twitter account teased the announcement earlier this week with a map of Westeros:

Reigns: Game of Thrones will launch in October for $3.99 on iOS, Android, and PC. Pre-orders are available today (via App Store, Google Play and Steam). Meanwhile, the final season of Game of Thrones is coming in 2019, and the next book in Martin’s series is an undisclosed number of winters away.

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