Article first published as PlayStation 4 Review: ‘Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series – Episode 1: Iron from Ice’ on Blogcritics.
Within a week of releasing the first episode of their new Borderlands adventure game series, Telltale has also kicked off Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series, with its first episode, Iron From Ice. Hopefully the developer doesn’t run into the same issues it did when launching the second season of The Walking Dead at around the same time they started The Wolf Among Us series, based on the Fables comic book. The second episodes of both series took three and four months respectively, to be released. The length of time between episodes along with increasingly shorter segments have turned many gamers off of Telltale’s delivery method.
Based on the hugely popular HBO television series, Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series tells the story of House Forrester. Though the family hasn’t yet made an appearance in the television series, it is mentioned in the George R. R. Martin books. House Forrester is a northern family and banner men of the Starks, at least for a while. Iron From Ice begins at the scene of the Red Wedding, which as tragic as it was for the Stark family, understandably, creates a whole new set of problems for the Forresters. You don’t necessarily have to have watched the show or read the books to play Telltale’s game, but the experience will mean more, to those that know at least some of these characters.
Like the television show and books, Iron and Ice is a dizzying political dance where a wrong move, and sometimes even the right ones, end up in death. The other thing that is changed up from Telltale’s typical formula, is that the Game of Thrones game, switches characters. In Iron From Ice, players take control of three different characters through the approximately two and half hours. The game promises to allow players to play a total five different points of view, though all of them will be directly related to the House of Forrester.Like all of Telltale’s adventure games, Game of Thrones is basically an interactive story, packed with dialogue choices and quick time events. There are a couple of exploration sequences, but no real puzzles to speak of, at least in the first episode. The most noticeable difference between Game of Thrones and other Telltale series is the shader effect applied to the game. While almost all of their other games use a comic book style presentation, Game of Thrones uses an oil paint effect to varying success. Personally, I would have preferred they would have stuck with what’s worked.
Though all of the playable characters in Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series are new characters, plenty of characters from the television show and books make appearances. Surprisingly, the television series’ actors actually reprise their roles in the game. Iron From Ice features appearances by Tyrion and Cersei Lannister performed by Peter Dinklage, and Lena Headey, Margaery Tyrell performed by Natalie Dormer, and the creepy Ramsay Snow performed by Iwan Rheon. Additional cast members are promised to appear in later episodes.
As a fan of the television series, I thought Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series really hits the mark. Where I felt the second season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead’s point of view was significantly less compelling than the first, the Game of Thrones game avoids this pitfall. By using multiple points of view with related characters, weight is automatically added to each of them. This is most evident in how the final scene plays out, a horrible choice of bad or worse. Like all of the Telltale games, your choices are pretty limited, but they do a pretty good job of making you feel like they mean something.