I was very nervous going into episode one of Telltale’s six-part adaptation of HBO’s critically acclaimed Game of Thrones, as I have recently just smashed my way through A Wolf Among Us and was unsure that any other game could come close to it this year (even if it was from the same developer AND was set in a universe that I love dearly).
The game opens with a brief history of House Forrester, whose name some fans will recognise from A Dance With Dragons, the fifth instalment of the epic fantasy saga A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. For those of you who don’t recognise the name, here’s a brief lowdown to get you caught up:
- The Forrester’s live in the stronghold Ironrath in the Wolfswood
- As Northmen, the Forrester’s are loyal banner man to House Stark
- Deep in the Wolfswood, they harvest the rare Ironwood trees
- The Forrester house words are ‘Iron from Ice’
Telltale’s Game of Thrones takes place towards the end of Season 3 of the show, throwing us right into the action moments before the brutal events of the Red Wedding. The player assumes control of three different characters in Iron from Ice: Gared Tuttle, squire to Lord Forrester, Ethan Forrester, Lord Forrester’s third-born son and Mira Forrester, Lord Forrester’s eldest daughter and handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell.
Throughout the two-hour episode, each of the three characters becomes entangled in complex and challenging situations that often require a great deal of subtlety and tact, regularly resulting in the need to make an important decision that could sway the situation in completely opposite (and sometimes bloody) tangents. Do we take the diplomatic route, using good judgement to assess the situation and try to avoid conflict at any cost? Or do we take a direct and militaristic approach to each situation and fight anyone who gets in our way? As is the case with Game of Thrones, there is never a clear-cut answer. Sometimes doing what feels like the right or honorable thing results in the complete decimation of your House. This is where Game of Thrones truly excels.
“When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die.” – Cersei Lannister
Of all of Telltale’s games where choice and the consequence of actions are the backbone of the gameplay, Game of Thrones lends itself best to this format. This is because the game mirrors the same core attributes as the Game of Thrones books and TV series so perfectly: betrayal, corruption, intrigue, deceit, power, subterfuge, honour, and violence – its all there. Never before in a Telltale game has the weight and significance of the choices you make as a player been so palpable. This was especially true during a terrifying dialogue scene with Cersei where you have to try and prove your loyalty to the crown. It is testament to the great writing and to Lena Headey’s fantastic acting that I was genuinely sweating during that exchange.
The unique visual style that Telltales games employ is exceptionally well suited to a dark and gritty Westeros, especially during the Red Wedding scenes. Kings Landing also looks gorgeous and it was a genuine pleasure to walk through the Great Hall in the Red Keep, but this was all unfortunately let down somewhat but some clunky animation that made a lot of the action sequences very awkward looking.
As this is only the first episode, the impact of the choices we make is not yet totally apparent. However, I hope as the series goes on the decisions we have made early on will have an important bearing on how the tale unfolds.
Game of Thrones episode one was great fun to play and a decent introduction to the Forrester’s. It recreated the tension of the show perfectly and presented the player with a number of tough situations and I often had to seriously weigh up my choices. Whilst we don’t know what the future holds for the Game of Thrones Telltale series, if it’s anything like Iron from Ice it will be bleak, brutal and bloody.
+ Decent writing
+ Telltale version of the title sequence
+ New and original Game of Thrones content
+ Dialogue scenes with familiar faces from the show
+ Tough decisions
+ Amazing ending
- Clunky animation
Sam Spettigue – follow Sam on Twitter at @ninjaspag