Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: December 2nd, 2014
Available On: Mobile, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Reviewer’s note: I played this game on the PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.
We all knew this would happen eventually. Ever since Telltale Games released The Walking Dead we knew that they would be the perfect fit for Game of Thrones. Now, after almost three years, here we are with the first episode of Telltale’s Game of Thrones, releasing just a week after Tales From the Borderlands. Can Telltale manage to strike gold twice, or should they have held winter off a little longer?
The first episode of Game of Thrones actually starts off with the big twist from Season 3 (the game, for reference, is based on the TV show rather than the book.) Without spoiling too much of the show, things get hectic and House Forrester loses both its current lord and the first born son. With the Starks, whom House Forrester had sworn loyalty to, no longer in power they now find themselves caught in the worst situation they could possibly imagine. You’ll switch roles between three different characters for this game, and all of them are trying to help House Forrester survive in some way. Gared Tuttle is Lord Forrester’s squire that is on a final mission for his lord. Mira Forrester is the oldest daughter and the handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell and is trying to win favors for House Forrester from King’s Landing. Finally, Ethan Forrester is the third born son and the new (very young) lord to House Forrester.
Each of the three characters have different scenarios that they all need to go through and different choices in these scenarios that, while not amounting to much in this episode, set what appears to be important ground work for the future. Since this is Game of Thrones you can expect politics to play a very large role. It becomes difficult to know if you’re really willing to sell out the person you think can help you for a chance to win over a favor from someone else. I found Ethan to easily have the most difficult choices through out the episode as what he decided wasn’t just going to be for himself, but for an entire group of people. Despite this, I have to give the warning that if you aren’t already involved in the Game of Thrones universe then the game is just about the worst place to start off. Many thing just go flat out unexplained and the assumption that you already have knowledge of the universe, either from the books or TV show, is always there.
I still haven’t decided if the lack of action scenes in Iron From Ice is a good thing or a bad thing. Both action scenes, which take place in the first 30 minutes of the episode, fall to all the same problems I’ve criticized Telltale for before. I don’t mind that the action is just a series of quick time events, but I do have a problem when they don’t work. This is even more of a problem when last week’s Tales From the Borderland managed to have what was, hands down, the best working action scenes Telltale has created. During an early fight in Iron From Ice I found myself unable to move a cursor over to a target it needed to be on. The cursor dragged along, like someone had just turned its sensitivity down to nothing. Later scenes I had the opposite problem: the cursor would vastly overshoot its target like the sensitivity was cranked up to 11. I also had at least one mess up caused by the game not registering my inputs, but at least it wasn’t for anything major.
I normally don’t talk about graphics, but I can’t help but bring up Game of Throne’s horrid “blurry” filter. I think the goal was to make the backgrounds look like an oil painting by having them be blurrier than the foregrounds, but in practice it just looks awful. Worse, once the scenes move around, the background actually “ripples” in response and it looks like everything is watery. It’s annoying at best, and distracting at worst. Also weird is the characters taken right from the show. The character models for the TV show characters are noticeably more realistic in their proportions and facial features (especially the eyes) than the original characters. When shown next to each other they almost look like they’re in different games. The good news is that all the actors from the TV show reprise their roles in the game, and they all do it wonderfully.
I’ll be continuing to play Game of Throne’s further episodes because Telltale still does story better than anyone else. Yet with horrid action scenes that need to be fixed up, I only hope that Telltale puts a little more time into episode 2. All the groundwork is there for another hit series, they just need the polish to bring it there.