It’s fair to say that the end of Game of Thrones left a bad taste in people’s mouths, myself included. But my appetite for more tales from Westeros and the world of Ice and Fire has reignited again with the rather good House of the Dragon. But this series is over and I have a hole the size of Drogon to fill.
Games usually do a good job of offering some form of tie-in to grab one’s attention (for example, the Marvel Snap came out as Phase 4 of the MCU ended. However, while there are plenty of Game of Thrones titles out there, not many caught my attention or praised With criticism — especially when it comes to mobile games.But Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows on Apple Arcade picks up on that trend in a very neat way.
Created by That Silly Studio and published by indie game darling Devolver Digital, Tale of Crows is an Apple Arcade exclusive playable on Macs, iPhones, iPads and Apple TV. It works across these platforms, as it’s not an action-packed or action-heavy game like some of the other Apple Arcade titles.
Instead, Tale of Crows is what’s commonly referred to as an “idle game” in that you take on a few missions, and then leave the game to its own devices while those objectives are completed.
In practice, Tale of Crows does this by focusing on the Wall of Westeros, a giant barrier of ice and rock designed to separate the wild lands of the North from the more civilized lands of the South.
A Tale of Crows spins off a story that takes place before the events of Game of Thrones, in which the Guardians of the Wall, the Night’s Watch, wield relatively good power. Players take on the role of Lord Commander who deals with tasks and problems as they arise, whether it’s bad news for a stranger or the need to send guards out of the Wall.
With light, atmospheric music, this story is told via text messages and quick resolutions, letting your imagination run wild for lack of scenes. It’s oddly riveting because you’re forced to make tough choices where the obvious right choice is far from obvious, if any at all.
This does not mean that you have nothing but text to look at. Quite the opposite. Tale of Crows presents a simple interface centered around a picture of the wall – garbledly drawn as if with pencils rather than digital paint – a map and a close-up of Castle Black, the headquarters of the Night’s Watch.
Zoom in to look at sections of the wall, all while a gentle, slightly ethereal soundtrack plays, mixed with wind chime effects and the eerie clicking of a crow delivering a message.
The latter is when the event occurs between moments of calm or idleness. When the raven arrives, it brings new information with it, such as a report from the guards or a request for help from neighboring castles along the wall.
Messages from behind the wall are particularly elegant because they will show a fresh image, for example of a remote part of the prairie or a rain-soaked mountaintop.
These messages are interesting, and exemplify the post-Castle Black world on both sides of the wall. But it can also contain dark lyrics, with an air of mystery and menace. And sometimes an outright battle with the White Walkers.
This really sets the scene and I find myself pulled back into the land of Westeros and its northern struggles, even though the main TV series ended over three years ago.
And the inert nature of Tale of Crows means you can easily dive in and out, whether you’re on a trip or just want something to do over your morning cup of coffee. In fact, I think it would make a great partner for books; Send out a group of crows in Tale of Crows and while you wait for them to return, dig into the tales of Tyrion, Arya, Brienne, Ned, and more.
The cool music alone makes Tale of Crows a good background game on my iPhone or iPad, though it also looks great on my MacBook Air M2.
So, if you’re like me after a bit of a GoT fix while waiting for George R. R. Martin to finally complete The Winds of Winter, I force you to give Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows a try on Apple Arcade.
If you’re not a fan of Game of Thrones, there are other Apple Arcade exclusives, like nostalgic weapons Lego Builders JourneyAnd the Gloomy sword – A low-resolution pseudo Dark Souls game that will grab your attention with a few swipes.