Iron from Ice
Game of Thrones is just one in a long line of high-profile licenses Telltale Games have made use of in recent years. It was announced with a lot of hype and a lot of fanfare – knowing what Telltale had done with their Walking Dead efforts made Game of Thrones, the adaption from arguably the biggest show on television right now, much-anticipated.
Having completed all 6 episodes (about 3 to 4 hours long each) I’ve got mixed feelings about the series. At times it faithfully recreates the bitter drama of the TV series. The crushing lows and the triumphant highs, but at other times its famous names hold back what it can accomplish.
One of the balancing acts The Walking Dead played was to create a game without the big characters of the show. This allowed Telltale to craft a beautifully impactful, original story. With Game of Thrones they’d hit the middle ground and done what many fans would have been calling for. As well as creating some real compelling original characters for the game, Telltale also splice in some familiar faces like Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister and others. Unfortunately this is where the Game of Thrones game falls down. While it’s nice to see Ramsey Snow; an abundant amount of frustration comes from the fact that you know you cannot impact on his storyline. That Ramsey Snow will continue to be a bastard and you can do absolutely nothing about it. Similarly, why would you side with Tyrion in King’s Landing, knowing he’ll soon find himself in the slave pits of Meereen.
These limits effect how much you can become attached to the Forrester’s that you control, which really is a shame as generally you’ll find them endearing and very likable. Asher is the standout character for me, combining that sense of youthful adventure with a noble desire to honor and protect his family. Likewise the Whitehill gang of thieves and vagabonds are intensely despicable. These two families fit perfectly within the Game of Thrones lore and you can easily imagine their torrid lineage filling fantasy books all around Westeros.
One of the common complaints with most Telltale games is the amount of impact you actually have on events. As someone who typically sticks to one play through it doesn’t affect me too much, but I understand the illusion of choice is particularly potent in Game of Thrones. While it is somewhat understandable with the level of licence that they hold, there is frustration in gleefully leaping onto the discussion forums, looking for the things you missed, only to discover that everyone had pretty much the same experience.
Another complaint would be the nature of the story arc. I feel at times Telltale trod a bit too close to the formula of the show. It’s hard to ignore the similarities between the misadventures of the Stark’s and the Forrester’s. The sudden deaths also seemed cheapened in light of this.
Is it an essential play? No probably not, but there’s moments of beauty and real story crafting that makes the game worth playing. The story progression of Garid and his search for ‘The North Grove’ (though it does end somewhat disappointingly) and Asher’s adventures certainly outweigh more dull moments in King’s Landing with Mira who is simply too far disconnected from her family.
If you are looking to bridge your time before season 6 airs in April then you should look here. You may not be completely satisfied. But the Forrester’s are a family you should be introduced to.