Check out the 8.5 out of 10 review from Telltale Games latest game, Game of Thrones Ep 1 – Iron from Ice and then make the JUMP AND let us know if you plan on picking up this game!
Telltale Games has a knack for killing beloved characters, seems intent on delivering experiences that fluctuate between doom and gloom, and has no problem feeding children to wolves. I can’t think of a studio better fit to take on HBO’s Game of Thrones, the popular television series based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books.
Telltale’s first foray into this dark fantasy world is just as thrilling, crushing, bloody, and unpredictable as the studio’s work on The Walking Dead series. In some cases it’s too similar to the ebb and flow of that zombie apocalypse, but the winds of winter are strongly felt in this first episode, giving fans of Martin’s work and its television adaptation another sliver of fiction to obsess over.
Telltale’s adaptation is a canonical part of HBO’s series, picking up toward the end of the show’s third season and its famed wedding. Many of the show’s cast reprise their roles, such as Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Snow, and Natalie Dormer as Margery Tyrell. However, this story focuses on House Forrester, a family that doesn’t receive screen time in the television series, and is barely mentioned in the books.
The Forresters reside in the Wolfswood in northern Westeros, once swearing loyalty to House Stark, but now stand on uncertain ground as the War of the Five Kings tears the kingdom apart. Their former allegiances bring trouble to their house, but their mastery of crafting armaments from Ironwood gives them leverage. In this first episode, Telltale shows us that this family is as troubled as the Starks or Lannisters. Their good intentions hold little weight in this world gripped by violence.
Holding true to Telltale’s most recent batch of games, the Forresters’ actions are shaped largely by player choice. It only takes a few minutes for this family to be thrust into the fire, and for the player to be bombarded with difficult decisions to make. In the opening scene, Gared Tuttle, squire to Lord Forrester, escapes an ambush, but not without blood on his hands. Lord Whitehill wants his head, and the Forresters must decide what to do with him. The newly appointed lord, Ethan Forrester, is trusted to dole out justice or potentially lead his house to war. This arc is painted nicely, delivering the sensation that Ethan is standing on a flimsy house of cards, and one false action could topple it.
Across the kingdom, Mira Forrester, the handmaiden to Lady Margery, is searching for ways to help brother Ethan. Her efforts become intertwined with the Lannisters’ sinister breed of mind games. Interacting with the Lannisters is every bit as tense and shocking as watching them in the show. Going into any more plot specifics would ruin the story for potential players, but as a Game of Thrones fan, I was satisfied with Telltale’s addition to HBO’s lore, and their handling of the series’ prominent characters.
All three of the House Forrester characters – Gared, Ethan, and Mira – are playable in this episode, with more promised to be controllable in future installments. Character switches occur at the end of each act, much like the chapters in Martin’s books. All three of the Forrester stories bring a multitude of player-made choices that either affect the plot or deliver the illusion that it’s being shaped by the decisions the player makes. The feeling of guilt hangs heavily over much of this episode – a surprising hook that instills the thought “I really messed up. I’ll fix this…somehow.”
Most of the choices are brilliantly interlaced into the conversations and come under the gun of a timer ticking away rapidly, giving the player little time to think things through. Some choices are resolved immediately, but most play into that “game of thrones” concept, and will likely affect the characters’ standing in the world in future episodes. And yes, those dreaded notifications like “Cersei will remember that” are in great abundance, and are often cringe-worthy.
Most of the action, if it can be called that, unfolds in conversations. A few simplistic button-pressing sequences are thrown in to give the player a small sliver of control over the sword fights and sleuthing, but make no mistake: This game is mostly a conversation simulator, slightly more so than any of Telltale’s other games. That’s okay. Conversations are largely what A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones are – dialogue with the high chance of something horrible happening.
Telltale echoes that narrative structure well, and does a nice job of creating dialogue for Cersei and Tyrion, but the way the story unfolds gives it a much different flow than the show. It falls more in line with Telltale’s other games, which, despite the mature subject matter, are a bit cartoony, with doe-eyed characters delivering emotion through exaggerated reactions. They clash a little bit against the characters modeled after the cast, who hold a higher level of realism and are not as emotionally animated. The story is also packaged in that Telltale way, with most of the big narrative moments flowing into choices for the player. It’s a successful formula, and it works well with Game of Thrones.
Duplicating its success from The Walking Dead, Telltale has created an excellent new way for fans to enter Westeros – one that has a unique vibe that sets it apart from the books and show. The Forresters’ story boils with intrigue in this first episode, and with Telltale’s scribes mimicking George R. R. Martin’s cruel pen, concludes with a cliffhanger and chaos.