Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series – Episode 01: Iron From Ice
With some big licenses such as The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us and even Borderlands under their belt, there can be little doubt that Telltale Games knows how to treat a license with the respect it deserves. Older gamers will remember that licensed titles used to be something to dread as beloved characters and settings were used for cheap cash-ins designed to suck the money out of devoted fans. Game of Thrones proved that a successful fantasy series could make the leap from books to television if done properly, and with this game adaptation Telltale Games ensures that the same holds true for gaming.
This is not the first time that Westeros and its inhabitants have been presented in a computer game format, but thankfully Telltale Games has done a much better job of it than previous attempts by other developers. The game is based on the story and settings of the HBO television show and features House Forrester. Although not seen in the television series, House Forrester hails from the north of Westeros and is loyal to House Stark. The game opens towards the end of events witnessed in season three of the television show, which as fans will be able to tell you, is not a good time to be loyal to House Stark. While you don’t need to have read the books or watched the television show to appreciate this game, it certainly helps.
As this is the first episode in a planned six episode series, most of the time is spent getting you caught up in the events that are about to unfold. According to Telltale the series will place you in the shoes of five different characters attached to House Forrester, although this first episode only features three. This is still more than the usual amount of protagonists in a Telltale game, but absolutely essential given the scope of the story and the amount of locations. Although you won’t be playing as any of the familiar faces from the show you will get your chance to interact with them.
Your first character is Gared Tuttle, squire to the head of House Forrester, Lord Gregor. Also playable is Ethan, third son of Gregor, and his sister Mira. Ethan’s scenes take place in the keep of the Forresters, Ironrath, while Mira is the handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell in King’s Landing. All of the characters are reasonably likeable and the first episode does a good job of establishing their motivations.
After a quick time event heavy opening scene the game slows down and opts for the more sedate, but no less gripping dialogue based interactions that will be familiar to Telltale Games fans. You only have a limited amount of time to select your response when prompted although silence is also a valid option. Unfortunately, as this is the first episode the consequences of your actions aren’t really apparent yet and it can feel like you’re are being led down the same linear path no matter what you choose. Hopefully future episodes will show that there are repercussions for your choices.
Instead of the cell shaded comic book style look of previous Telltale titles, Game of Thrones uses a kind of painterly style to make each scene look like an oil painting. It works really well for the most part, but is let down a bit by some of the animations. The established characters such as Cersei, Tyrion, Margaery and Ramsey are pretty true to their television series counterparts although they do occasionally slip into uncanny valley territory. Like the television show the game isn’t afraid to show blood and gore, but unlike the show this first episode is devoid of any sexual content.
Most of the new characters in the game features some very decent voice acting, but it wouldn’t have been the same without the actors from the television show reprising their roles. Peter Dinklage does a good job in the small amount of time he is allotted as does Lena Headey and Natalie Dormer, but for me the standout performance came from Iwan Rheon as Ramsey snow. He retains all the unpredictability and menace that his character exudes on the show and ensures that every scene featuring Ramsey is a tense affair. The music is also very good, with a faithful rendition of the television opening and some atmospheric tunes throughout the episode.
In total the first episode lasts for about two hours which is standard for a Telltale Games title. The game manages to capture the atmosphere and characters of the show perfectly, but as with most Telltale titles the lack of interaction will be an issue for players used to traditional gaming experiences. Although you get the chance to briefly move around a few scenes and pick up objects there are no real puzzles to solve. This ensures that you can never get stuck or bogged down, but also removes any type of traditional “challenge” from the game.
If you are a fan of Game of Thrones or previous Telltale Games titles then this is an essential purchase. Although short there is rarely a dull moment and while it might be light on action there is no lack of drama or intrigue. In true Game of Thrones tradition it will also leave you counting down the days until the next episode.
- OS: Windows XP Service Pack 3
- Processor: Core 2 Duo 2GHz or equivalent
- Memory: 3 GB RAM
- Graphics: ATI or NVIDIA card w/512 MB RAM
- DirectX: Version 9.0
- Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
- Sound Card: Direct X 9.0c sound device
- Additional Notes: Not Recommended for Intel integrated graphics
- OS: Snow Leopard (10.6.X)
- Processor: 2.3 Ghz Intel
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: 512 MB NVidia or ATI graphics card
- Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
- Additional Notes: Not recommended for Intel integrated graphics or Mac Minis or early-generation MacBook