Although “Game of Thrones” is over on HBO, the world of George R.R. Martin is still fertile ground for storytelling. With “Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows,” Devolver Digital and That Silly Studio mines the history of the Night’s Watch.
The military order dedicated to protecting the Wall and Seven Kingdoms has its own lore, which players can explore through this Apple Arcade game. Don’t expect a quick-twitch hack and slasher or a tense tactical game, though. “Tale of Crows” is described as a real-time idle game.
Developer Jake Hollands says players take on the role of several lord commanders and make decisions on how to run the Night’s Watch. Players make a choice, send a raven and wait in real time to see the results of their actions. Players can go about their day as “Tale of Crows” works in the background. The game will notify players once the action is finished.
Once the notification is on, players don’t have to respond immediately. They can run errands and pick up and play at their leisure. Hollands says when played casually, the “Tale of Crows” campaign wraps up in one to two weeks.
What makes the title compelling is that Hollands and his team created a dynamic narrative of 10 core stories. Decisions create branching narratives. It’s sort of like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel built for iOS devices. A lord commander can face an uprising and poor decisions can mean he’s overthrown, and players will continue the campaign as the usurper. Smart decisions may mean the defeat of the insurrection and a different outcome.
Players can play a cynical and jaded lord commander or a wise and honest one.
The campaign is tale told by a man in a pub. Hollands says the reliability of the narrator is in question, so what he is saying may or may not be true. If they go through the game once, players unlock a second narrator who tells the history through another lens.
Because “Tale of Crows” has its basis in Martin’s mythology, fans with detailed knowledge of the show and books will have a leg up. But Hollands says his team tried to build a game that’s accessible to newcomers, too.