OSW Review | Telltale’s Game of Thrones Ep 1 “Iron From Ice”

Telltale’s Game of Thrones Ep 1 “Iron From Ice”

Helloooooo! Jay here with a game review, this time Telltale's videogame adaption of HBO's Game of Thrones. As such it features the TV theme song (hooray!) and the likeness and voice talents of some of the actors (Cersei, Margaery, Tyrion and Ramsay Snow in this episode), which is always worrying, as most TV to videogame adaptions are clunkers (including Cyanide Studios' GoT RPG from 2012). But with Telltale's pedigree we'll give em the benefit of the doubt, so let's get to it!

Developer: Telltale Games
Console: PC (also available on Mac, Tablet, X360/Xbone, PS3/4)
Release: December 2014
Reviewed by Jay

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Many families are vying for position as rulers of Westeros. The Lannisters are top of the food chain, but your house was previously aligned with the Starks, who were jobbed out. You play as 3 different members of the (hastily mentioned in book 5) House Forrester – Gared, the squire of Lord Forrester, the next in line (young Ethan Forrester) and Mira Forrester, the eldest daughter and handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell.

The game expects you to know the basic outline from up to Book 3/Season 3 of Game of Thrones, otherwise you’ll be lost; from the talk about allegiances and historical battles to side-jokes (eg a joke about marrying Brienne of Tarth to Tyrion Lannister). The first chapter happens at the same time as the Red Wedding, the season taking place over Season 3 & 4. Each episode consists of 6 chapters, one big decision per chapter.

Here’s the storylines of this episode:
• Gared (the squire) escapes the battlefield with a message to deliver
• Ethan Forrester must get start his duties as Lord Forrester (dealing with a thief, picking a Sentinel aka right hand man, and meeting with Ramsey Snow)
• Mira Forrester is scrutinised by Cersei and must ask Margaery for help.

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Unlike Telltale’s The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us, which adopts a beautiful, stylised, cell-shaded comic-book style, Game of Thrones is more of a ‘realistic’ upscaled PS2-looking game, which is quite disappointingly ugly. Margaery Tyrell (the gorgeous Natalie Dormer) looks like an acorn-headed alien, and Tyrion looks like Rocky Dennis.

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This is a Telltale adventure game, meaning you’re playing it for the story and making moral and conversational choices. Although there’s QTEs (almost exclusively in the first 2 of the 6 chapters of the episode), this is a narrative-based game – it’s closer to a choose-your-own-adventure book than a typical videogame. Exploring around feels clunky but you’d be used to that from The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us.

Spoiler Thoughts during gameplay (clicky!)

• Lots of QTE to start off. I get action is to start with a bang, but it’s the weakest part of Telltale’s arsenal.
• Gared – Stop calling for Roderick’s attention you asshole! He was speared because of you!
• You leave the wounded Lord Forrester to die – why not stand and fight? It’s ONLY TWO lads.
• Great to hear & see a game version of the GoT opening – although the art style makes it look poor, like a PS2 game.
• 3 Bolton bannermen – Nice of him to attack one at a time.
• Wait, your family dies so you can go on an adventure unimpeded? Just like Luke Skywalker!
• Maggots in your wound?! Don’t you mean leeches? Nope, “maggot therapy” is thought to clean wounds by eating and dissolving dead tissue but it could just eat healty tissue too. Nice gross out moment!
• Strategic carts make great invisible walls
• There’s a quiet part where you’ve the option to steal a Royal seal and a random key. That’s great, putting your gamer impulse to collect everything to the test. Only happens if you appease Cersei though.

I generally choose the ‘what’s best’ option unless someone deserves it. Afterwards I immediately played round two:
• As with other Telltale games, the choices are an illusion – conversation assumes you’ll answer one way in general, the most you’ll get is one specific line of dialogue and back to the rest of the chat. The worst offenders are:
1) that your Maester reacts to you violently dealing with the thief, and choosing mercy with the same opening line. (“That was unpleasant, but a lord must mete out punishment where it’s due.”)
2) It doesn’t matter if you tell Uncle
• Picking the most insolent answers with Cersei, she takes them pretty well (respecting your headstrong attitude). Doing this in general moves the plot along a lot quicker.
• If you die, the screen says “Valar Morghulis” (all men must die), which is an awesome little touch.
• Doesn’t matter if you tell your Uncle he’s going or not. He goes anyway. You could be positive and say it’s fate but really it’s cutting corners due to having a small dev team!
• Meeting Ramsey at the gate takes a different start (which is great) but ends the same way, which involves a bit of shit kayfabe (I just happened to get my men in anyway).

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Good Points:
• Gared not so much, but Ethan & Mira’s story really feel like Game of Thrones. Great!
• Deciding on morally grey decisions and conversational responses (as always with Telltale)
• Being scrutinised by Cersei.
• Tyrion is very likeable, giving warm and enjoyable counsel – the first videogame Dinklage has given a shit reading his lines!
• Ramsey is a great dick heel.
• Game of Thrones has massive potential as this type of narrative-lead videogame
• Good enough to immediately replay the episode with different decisions.

Bad Points:
• QTEs (i.e. the “game parts”)
• Looking around rooms/upturned cart etc seems really tacked on. What were those Maester supplies used for? (Please come up in episode 2!)
• Unappealing art style.
• Ugly character models
• Haven’t warmed to any new characters (the ones you control)

Overall: It’s episode 1 of 6, so it’s more of an introduction to the characters. However since there’s 3 different storylines (and not one big narrative), you don’t get to know or care about the people you’re playing as – but what I saw didn’t wow me, I don’t think these people have great potential to be standout characters. A lot of the fun/drama relies on knowing the important GoT characters at this part in the TV series/books. It’s a much weaker impact than The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us, but I still enjoyed playing through it. 7/10.

I recommend waiting for episode 2 in February to buy it, as they’ll likely sell this episode for free at that point, so see you in then for part 2!

7-10 stars


Release Date
January 12, 2015