Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows

Game review by
Chris Morris, Common Sense Media
Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows Game Poster Image
Slower-paced choose-your-own-adventure shines.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The message of the game is left to the player. You can be loyal and kind or cruel. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Only men are allowed to be part of the Watch. Women, when they rarely appear, are usually sorceresses. 

Ease of Play

The game has no complicated controls and lets you play at your own pace. 

Violence

There are some text descriptions of violence -- some which can be graphic -- but nothing's shown. 

Sex

While there's nothing graphic, there are some suggestive elements. And there are hints of men of the watch sometimes visiting sex workers. 

Language

Occasional use of words like "damned" but no graphic profanity. 

Consumerism

This is based on the HBO show Game of Thrones, which itself was based on a popular fantasy series of books.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are occasional mentions of wine. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows is a choose-your-own-adventure style game for Apple Arcade. The game's set in HBO's Game of Thrones universe. The game proceeds at a slow pace, letting players play when they want -- and usually only for a couple of minutes at a time. There's no graphical depictions of violence, sex or drinking, but all are discussed, with some graphic violence mentioned in messages from expeditions. But the game isn't as graphic as the books or TV show.

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What's it about?

In GAME OF THRONES: TALE OF CROWS, players relive the tales of the history of the Wall and Castle Black in the Game of Thrones universe. They'll act out several Watch commanders, handling a series of crises, ranging from mystical disturbances to recruitment and starvation. This is all done in a choose-your-own-adventure format, where messages from Westeros, visits from Brothers and Maesters, and ravens from expedition parties present scenarios that need some sort of decision. Once those are made, you'll have to wait to see their impact. The game plays out in an accelerated real time, meaning you can't binge it. It's played a few minutes at a time over a week or more. And you can't speed it up, no matter how much you might want to at times. 

Is it any good?

While most games are designed to keep players focused on their screens for as long as possible, this adventure encourages you to walk away. It's a gamble, but that actually makes Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows more captivating. While the pace is slow and steady and the action never really ramps up, Tale of Crows hooks you hard and fast. That's because you feel like you're making a real impact on the game, since you're constantly forced to make decisions -- and then wait to see how those decisions impact other men of the Watch. That also adds to replayability, since you're often curious how the game would have branched if you'd chosen another path. 

The chief criticism is the same thing that makes the game so compelling. It tests your patience, making you wait anywhere from several minutes to several hours before you're presented with more options. It's a game that will never rush you, but you can't rush it, either. And if you occasionally lack patience, that will drive you batty at times. There's also some repetition of scenarios that gets old after a bit. In general, though, this is a wonderful side pocket of the Game of Thrones world that harkens back to an oft-forgotten style of storytelling and gameplay that's a welcome break from the fast-paced games of today. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the weight of responsibility. Is it harder to make a decision when it impacts people counting on you? 

  • Why is looking for a peaceful response more beneficial for all involved than a violent one? Why does this also tend to be a harder thing to achieve?

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