It is a linear game, a fixed story with only a handful of (apparently quite sizeable) side missions. At one point it was going to be something of a Skyrim-style sandbox, but the decision was apparently made that “we really want an impactful story” as that’s more in keeping with the source material. I can’t attest to which is the right decision without playing hours of it. I’d certainly love to play something that was organically pushing and reshaping the boundaries of Westeros’ ruling families domains, a sort of hybrid of Total War and STALKER: Clear Sky, but I totally appreciate that going sandbox is so often a recipe for random quantity over focused quality unless you have a monstrous budget to call upon.
The other major foundation of Martin’s books and the resultant show (sexy funtimes aside) is, of course, wanton violence. GOT:TG seemed to have all the hallmarks of a hacky-slashy meathead marathon, so I was a little surprised to discover that it’s actually built around tactical pause-time combat in the vein of Knights of the Old Republic or Dragon Age. To an even greater degree than those are, I think. You pause, up pops some ability menus with the fight going on in super-super-slow motion behind it, you chain together up to 3 attacks, moves, spells, potions and whatnot, including switching foes mid-fight if you wish, you resume and then it all plays out in real-time.