Iron from Ice- Telltale Game of Thrones Season 1 Review

When you play the Game of Thrones you win…or you die. However this game doesn’t seem to follow those rules. While its a great prospect to have control in events of Game of Thrones, especially if you are a huge fan of the series like myself, you’ll see that this game quickly drops the ball as the episodes go by.

Gameplay

In typical Telltale fashion, the game places emphasis in how you respond in conversations and choices to advance the story. Often these are presented with multiple prompts for response with a time limit. You can always choose to stay silent as an option. Something handy in these games is that it allows for multiple saves and a “rewind” function, allowing you to amend a decision if you regret it.

The few times there is combat, they are always in the form of quick time events. A lot of them require a lot of trial and error, especially when they need you to hit a certain target, which can be a tad more difficult when not playing on a console.

in typical telltale fashion, you decide wheather you want to bow to another, or stand your ground. Image Source: Gamepressure.com
in typical telltale fashion, you decide whether you want to bow to another, or stand your ground. Image Source: Gamepressure.com

One frustrating element during these quick time events is sometimes the game won’t fault you for missing them and sometimes it will. There was a section where I missed a command prompt and was presented with the death screen (Saying “Valar Morghulis” as would be typical for Game of Thrones). I tried it again and succeeded, but happened to miss a command thirty seconds later, yet the character still dodged and continued just fine. And these combat sections get very monotonous, very fast.

Beyond combat, you are allowed to walk around and examine from time to time. While they help show more of the community you are in and the characters in it, too often it feels like it’s  breaking up the action, and all you want it for it to end.

Graphics

The Telltale art design blends very well with the world of Game of Thrones, helping to create nearly spot-on likenesses of characters (aside from Margaery looking a bit off in my opinion). The lip flaps may not perfect, not always moving in perfect rhythm with what’s said. In one scene,my game didn’t show the mouths didn’t move at ALL. But that same kind of quality doesn’t carry over to the scenery.

Although its pre-rendered, the look gorgeous, especially with the light and atmosphere of each set piece helped to convey the mood and paint the world as vividly as possible.

Ironwrath quickly shows itself to be one of the best designs in the game, making the Forrester castle’s segments the most beautiful. Image Source: Game of Thrones.wikia.com

 

The scenery also works well in tandem with some fantastic music to set up key moments of the story. And that transitions into my next point.

Sound

The voice acting in the game is all-around very well done. Although some characters like, Mira, have voices that are a little too monotone. Image Source: Geeklyinc.com

The music in the game seems like it was taken straight from the show, showing the quality of this original score. Music coming in and out of certain hard and tense decisions only helped to show the gravity of the situation and the risks shown.

For voice acting however, it can be hit or miss. They even bring in actors from the show such as Peter Dinklage(Tyrion Lannister), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Kit Harrington (Jon Snow),Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), and Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Snow). While Dinklage, Headey, Clarke and ESPECIALLY Rheon  bring their characters to life, Dormer and Harrington sound a bit too bored.

For non-show voice actors, they are for the most part very well done. I especially highlight Gared’s voice acting as some of the most moving in the whole game. However, I hope you’re a fan of Yuri Lowenthall, because he is everywhere in this game.

Story

The real highlight of a Telltale game. If you are familiar with the Game of Thrones universe, then you know the setting ideally. If not then the game won’t really hold your hand. You take on the role of several members of House Forrester, a noble house of the North who are loyal to the Stark Family. They are very much like the Starks, but don’t trust the wrong people as easily. Their rivals are the Whitehills, who both fight for control for resources and land.

In continuity of the show, the game begins at the end of Season 3 and the beginning of Season 4. If you haven’t gotten that far in the show then I recommend you stop reading.

Certain characters you can favor more than others, and that will affect their role in the story. Image Source: Gamestar.de

The first episode begins as House Forrester is betrayed by the Boltons and the Freys at the Red Wedding. From there on you play as Gared Tuttle (a servant to House Forrester) at the Wall, Mira Forrester at King’s Landing, Asher Forrester at Essos/Mereen, and Ethan Forrester at Ironwrath, the Forrester family castle. That isn’t the limit of playable characters, but telling you would spoil the game.

Several cast members of the show make an appearance. Some more worthless than others however.  Tyrion and Cercei are hard to outmaneuver and just as crafty as they would be in the show. Ramsay Snow is every bit as sadistic and disturbing as you would expect. However, while it’s great to have Kit Harrington come in as Jon Snow, aside from a minor moment with Gared, he has no impact on the plot. The same could be said for Emilia Clarke as Daenerys. If you aren’t as big a fan of her in the show, then you will despise her in this game, acting overly hostile and going back on deals.

As great as it is to have Gared learn from him as a mentor, Jon really offers nothing in terms of the story, and really acts as more of a glorified cameo. Image Source: IGN.com

One of the biggest criticisms I have for this game’s story is that while oftentimes it will say “Tyrion will remember this” or “Margaery appreciated that”, when really, it has no bearing on what happens later. Characters will completely forget any kindness or slight you’ve done to them in favor of furthering the already set path of the story. Because the story really is on a set path…no matter what you do.

Sure there may be slight variations, but things generally end the same for all characters, and no choices really affect the ending until the final two episodes. However, despite the lack of freedom the game is supposedly built on, the story is actually very good. In classic Game of Thrones fashion you can’t count on anyone to make it out in one piece, but you still grow to love the characters and want the Forresters to make it out on top.

Even the Whitehills are even placed in a human light. While they all seem to be insufferably annoying brutes, they do have some humanity that you can discover, and even exploit if you wanted.

Final Verdict

Season 1 of Telltale’s Game of Thrones starts off very strong but fails to deliver as time goes on. A lot of game changing decisions don’t take place until the final two episodes, but the story none the less is well done. The designs and music help to elevate the story that fits in perfectly within the universe of Game of Thrones. Despite some flaws in the story choices and the quick-time events becoming monotonous, the game is still a good experience, especially if you are a Game of Thrones fan. I recommend if it is ever on sale, then go for it.

A lost opportunity. Image Source: ausgamers.com

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