For those who don’t know me very well, I am a huge fan of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I am also a huge fan of Telltale Studios. Thus, when Telltale Games announced they were creating an episodic series based on A Game of Thrones, I was immediately excited – even before I’d read any details. Telltale had never steered me wrong before. It seemed like a match made in heaven.
Was it? Well…
DISCLAIMER: By design, Game of Thrones is a very story driven game. As such, spoilers may be divulged within without any notice. Consider yourself warned!
Game of Thrones remains largely similar to Telltale’s The Walking Dead series. You walk around, get to know your fellow characters, make decisions that have far-reaching consequences, and deal with Quick Time Events. I say “deal with” because I feel like they’re a chore. I find no real joy in these sections. Sure, it’s fun to watch them play out, but I don’t feel like I’m actually influencing what’s happening. I would much prefer a simple cut scene. Besides, the QTE’s themselves aren’t initially always clear as to what you need to be doing. Sure, a left or a right arrow is pretty clear, but when a big X appears, it becomes a little more clouded – sometimes just a press will suffice; sometimes you need to hold it; sometimes you need to press it rapidly. It’s all trial and error until you learn what to do in each situation, because there’s no tutorial at all. This isn’t a problem, but it can be frustrating to repeat the same sequence over and over until you learn that you needed to actually HOLD the circle button after rapidly spamming the X button.
The graphics are a mixed bag. I played on both Android and PS4, and they seem to share the same issue. At random points in the game, certain parts of the scene become blurred. I’m not exactly sure why this happens. I’m not sure if it’s intentional, either. It may very well be, because it tended to force me to focus on the characters, but I just found it incredibly jarring, and it had an effect on my immersion in the story.
That being said, the graphics for the most part are great. While being different from The Walking Dead, which favoured a cel-shaded look, the graphics are remarkably recognisable as Telltale styled. Each character looks the way you would expect a character in A Game of Thrones to look, including the excellently done cameos.
Before I address these cameos, I should note that in Game of Thrones, you don’t just control a singular character. You actually control several, which perfectly suits the Game of Thrones universe. You control Gared Tuttle, a squire for Lord Gregor Forrester; Ethan Forrester, the third-born son of Lord Gregor; and Mira Forrester, the first daughter of Lord Gregor, who has been sent to court in King’s Landing and serves as a handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell. Each decision these characters make can have far reaching effects on the others. What these effects are, though, remains to be seen.
As for the cameos, these are an immediate treat for any Game of Thrones fan. Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Iwan Rheon, and Natalie Dormer all reprise their roles from the show as Tyrion Lannister, Cersei Lannister, Ramsay Snow. and Margaery Tyrell respectively, and they all provide strong performances. Meeting these characters in the game adds immediate tension to the situation. For example, at one point while controlling Mira, you are summoned to an audience with Queen Cersei. Margaery warns you to say whatever it takes to keep the Queen happy. This makes the entire confrontation with Queen Cersei full of tension, as you know every single thing that you say could anger either Cersei or Margaery, which you do not want. Afterwards, Tyrion escorts you out and comments on your choices in the discussion. He also offers you another choice… This leaves the entire encounter gripping, tense, and very fulfilling.
To finish, I won’t say exactly what happens, but I will say that the end of this episode had me literally leaping off my couch and swearing at the television, in true Game of Thrones fashion. The story that Telltale has crafted perfectly complements that of the main series. And I, for one, am left immediately craving more.