I review the first episode of Telltale’s Game of Thrones series, an episodic graphic adventure story, based on the television adaption of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, following a similar structure to that of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, A Wolf Among Us and Tales From The Borderlands, featuring voices of actors and characters from the HBO show.
I’m a massive Game of Thrones fan and Telltale have been putting out some awesome content lately from their work. The Walking Dead Season 1 has been excellent (I still haven’t completed it yet, sadly), and from what I’ve seen of A Wolf Among Us, it looks pretty great as well, so it was a no brainer really that I was going to enjoy their take on Game of Thrones, which I was lucky enough to receive as a birthday present from a friend in its entirety, so I will most likely be reviewing each individual chapter as they are released going forward.
Game of Thrones doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to video game releases, with the majority receiving negative or mixed reactions, but Telltale seem to have everything right so far with a very strong opening chapter that doesn’t disappoint. Whilst it isn’t exactly friendly to those who aren’t familiar with the Game of Thrones world, it pulls you into an immersive point and click story where the choices that you make really do matter and have dramatic consequences, as we follow the story of a never seen before House Forrester, and the fallout of their alliance with the Starks in the aftermath of the Red Wedding (So you shouldn’t play this game until you’ve seen at least the first three seasons), one of the most brutal gamechangers in the series and the universe so far, and deals with the aftermath and how it affects multiple characters.
Through the first episode alone, which took about roughly two hours according to the Steam log to complete, I controlled three main characters over the course of the episode that spent enough time with them to already make you care and invest in their choices that they made. Ethan Forrester (voiced by Christopher Nelson), is the third born son of House Forrester, and following the death of its head at the Red Wedding, Ethan finds himself in a difficult position when he must not only rebuilt his house but also deal with Ramsay Snow, the bastard enforcer of the North’s new Warden, Roose Bolton. As well as Ethan, I also spent time with Gared Tuttle (Daniel Kendrick), a Squire to the House Forrester and one of the few survivors of the Red Wedding, and the eldest daughter of the House, Mira (Martha Mackintosh), who serves as the handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell in King’s Landing. They’re an interesting mix of characters and the decision to focus on a new House rather than spend time with already established members is a good one that works really well, adding a lot of depth to those who aren’t necessarily the main players of the game and further fleshing out the world of Game of Thrones.
In the first episode, we are introduced to a couple of on screen characters such as Margaery, Cersei, Tyrion and Ramsay (all voiced by their TV actors, and looking extremely like their TV counterparts), but we aren’t allowed to play with any of them, which wasn’t a problem for me because I enjoyed the new characters so much. I tended to lean towards the more merciful choices in this game even though Game of Thrones can be a pretty unforgiving world, and it actually surprised me as to how brutal the first episode is, with a twist coming at the end that I didn’t see coming, in true Game of Thrones style, and it really sets things up for some interesting storyline potential going forward especially with the inevitable fallout from some of the decisions that I made will no doubt have ramifications further down the line.
I personally preferred the time that I spent with Ethan over Gared and Mila, because the diplomacy was so fun, and attempting to bargain with the unhinged Ramsay Snow was great, as we saw him come into conflict with his various advisors who were well written and acted strongly by their performers, even if you got the traditional roles of an advisor reluctant to use force against one that was a typically fight first, think later character, and on top of that, you also got to establish Ethan as a cruel or merciless Lord (I went for the latter, but I was tempted to go for the former because this is Game of Thrones we’re talking about here).
The artwork and animation is fantastic in the first episode and you really find yourself immersed in the world of the series going forward, with several locations being brought to life. King’s Landing feels like King’s Landing and the new House Forrester fit perfectly at home in the world of the show. Having got access to all of the episodes, and having them all downloaded at once, I can’t wait to get stuck into future locations such as the Wall (Jon Snow is teased in the trailer for next episode), and explore more of King’s Landing, with it really being a welcoming treat for fans of the saga after so many mediocre games in the world. It’s certainly a very strong start and time will tell if Telltale can keep up this quality, but given from what I’ve seen, it looks that way indeed, and I can’t imagine it’ll be long before I get stuck into the second episode. For fans of the show (who have seen up to The Rains of Castamere, although obviously those who have seen the entire series so far will benefit the most as this storyline will run up to the start of Season 5), it comes with a high recommendation as it’s already shaping up to be one of my favourite games that I’ve had the chance to play this year.