You might not have been aware of
the novels, but I doubt there is anyone that does not know of the epic
television series. You might not have watched it, you might not like it,
but you will certainly know about it. It was probably inevitable it
would get a gaming treatment, and given the plot lines have left me
gobsmacked more than once, it certainly suits the Telltale ďchoicesĒ
If you are an adventure gamer
you will be equally familiar with that approach, but by way of quick
overview, at numerous points in the game you have choices to make, some
mundane, some less so, and those choices affect how the game progresses,
how other characters feel about you, and even whether they live or die.
The choices are generally realistic within the context of the plot or
event, and the overall impression is of being a completely active
participant in what is occurring, as opposed to an interested observer.
While the episode starts with a
bang (and be warned if you arenít about three series in that there is a
potentially large spoiler right up front), on the whole it takes its
time, pacing itself, introducing the protagonists and setting up the
various story threads. Much like the source material itself. As a
result, as a single episode it may feel a little ďemptyĒ, which is not
to say that nothing happens, but rather that its main focus is on
setting up what is to come. It teases, titillates, and then invites you
back for more.
It also does an excellent job of
establishing the fear and mistrust that permeates the books and the
television series, where you continually dance to avoid your own demise.
There are physical fights, but the more dangerous jousts are often the
verbal ones; say the wrong thing and suffer terrible consequences. The
game of thrones is one which is played while constantly looking over
your shoulder, and you know from the get go that not everyone will
Many of the prominent television
characters are present, in both visage and voice. I went to a literary
event where Lena Headey spoke and answered questions about the series,
but it was even more thrilling to confront her character Cersei
Lannister ďin the fleshĒ, and survive to talk about it. Which is more
than you can say for the poor individual that crossed paths with Ramsay
While the characters and events
of the series are present, at least in this first episode we are playing
alongside them. House Forrester may be a lesser house, but it controls
the Ironwood forests, a natural resource much in demand. The house has
long been loyal to House Stark, which inevitably means it is as
precariously placed given the Starks are engaged in battle across the
length and breadth of Westeros.
While we have a story line
embedded in the House, the game uses multiple perspectives to tell its
tale. Garred is the squire to the campaigning Lord Forrester, Ethan
Forrester is the son who must rule in the lordís absence, and Mira
Forrester is a handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell, another prominent cast
member currently located in Kingís Landing. Each has his or her own
tribulations, and each faces their own perils in this episode.
There are more than a few
keyboard-pecking action scenes, and you may die once or twice while you
become familiar with where to peck. Much of this first two hours though
will be spent feeling your way, getting ready for what is to come. The
tension is ever present, and you canít help feeling it wonít end well.
Who ultimately gets to the end of the last episode however may very well
depend on what you do here.
The Lost Lords
The Forrester travails continue
in The Lost Lords, and if it takes a little while to get going, it
leaves you with a feeling that something is indeed about to come
monumentally unstuck. Given almost no one is sacred, the anticipation is
Proceedings start with Asher
Forrester, and he wasnít at all what I expected. He is plying his trade
as a sellsword in Yunkai, and a violent one it is. House Forrester is
feeling the iron boot of the Boltons, and the Forrester clan is trying
to do what it can to improve the lot of the House. There is a sense that
try as they might, nothing might end well, but who can say at this
While we like the familiar
characters, and who doesnít like John Snow, I felt this episode
unhitched itself from the need for those characters. Or at least
unbuckled the seat belt. John and Tyrion are here, but I did think it
shifted events from being on the margins of the events we all know, to
being the events we are primarily interested in.
There are obvious links and
parallels, and nothing is going to happen here that will upset the tv
goings on. But while we are paddling in the same pond, and while the
journey of Gared Tuttle perhaps too closely mirrors that of John Snow in
the tv series, I did think we were starting to forge some interesting
agendas of our own.
But its still a waiting game.
The pieces are in play, but the dice are yet to be cast. We know it is
unlikely to end well, whatever that end might be.
And I could of course be
Two hours or so should see you
through, and if like me you waited, you can now go straight on to
Episode 3: The Sword in the Darkness
Episode 4: Sons of Winter
Episode 5: A Nest of Vipers
Well, despite what I said after
Episode 2, I actually waited for all these then played them through to
set up the final episode due shortly.
It remains the best way,
particularly with such a many threaded beast as this tale. Apart from
the action sequences, gaming really is all about your dialogue choices,
and staying on top of what you have said to whom and who is playing you
and vice versa is easier and more complete with a lack of distance
between the particular events. More than any of the previous Telltale
sagas, that holds true here.
While you have a limited time to
make each choice, and while they can come reasonably frequently, lest
you were unaware the space bar will pause the game, giving you ample
time to think about how you want to answer. That they do come frequently
ensures you feel more involved, rather than simply clicking to progress.
The writing really is the thing.
Anyone playing will have a familiarity with, if not an intimate
knowledge of, one or the other or both of the book or tv series, and the
game in no way fails by comparison. I am just as invested in the trials
and tribulations of the protagonists, moreso in some ways given I can
influence how they unfold. While there are some obvious signs (I saved
this person not that one) how much my investment actually determines the
course of events will only be known on a replay, and I will certainly
play through making deliberately different choices to see what results.
In that regard, given you can
have different profiles at the start menu, you can play through
simultaneously taking different paths. I havenít, as I confess I might
confuse things even more, but itís an aspect that not all episodic games
provide, and warrants a mention.
Whether it was the episodes
themselves, or that they were played as a whole, or that we set up the
pieces in the beginning and now we are moving them around, or perhaps
just the way I made choices, the somewhat disparate though related
threads really started to pull in a cohesive way. I found myself for
instance making choices for Mira in Kings Landing influenced by what I
was doing with Asher in Mereen. Each playing character had however
become a well-developed persona in their own right, and I enjoyed the
counterpoint of the characters themselves and the events they were
That we play with central
characters that look like and are voiced by their tv actors, alongside
the major events that occur in the literary or tv world, just adds to
the whole thing. It remains anchored in familiarity, while being
different enough to be something else.
I was also struck at one point
towards the end of episode 5 by just how good the artwork is.
The keyboard pecking ebbs and
flows across each episode, but is present in each to some extent.
Thoughtfully, while you canít save at will, the game will often save at
two or three points during an action piece, ensuring you donít have to
get through the whole sequence in one successful go. I reckon each
episode took between two and three hours.
I wonít tell you any more about
the progression of the plot, or who is alive or not, or where we might
end up. That really is the substance of the thing. I can say however I
am eagerly waiting for its conclusion.
Episode 6: The Ice Dragon
And so we reach the end Ė sort
of Ė and despite the title there were no dragons in this episode.
I have to say upfront that
Episode 6 was somewhat of a letdown. Not so much in what did happen
(although some of that was disappointing) but in what didnít.
Not surprisingly, lots of people
are dead. People I didnít think would be dead, people I tried to save,
others who were just careless or cavalier with their lives. It wouldnít
be Game of Thrones if you didnít have a death watched by loved ones, and
then the loved ones die too, and a head or three gets lopped off out of
vengeance or simply because someone else has to die. Plenty lose their
lives in this episode, and not just bit players either.
It is a callous and unfair
realm, the Seven Kingdoms.
Having done some googling, just
who is alive really will depend on your choices. Chances are though that
House Forrester will, regardless, be a whole lot worse for wear,
although perhaps not everything is lost.
I didnít see one death coming,
and it was the least satisfying outcome among the lot. While a simple
choice at the end apparently could have stopped it, the scheming and
conniving that had been done to that point all ended up being seemingly
completely irrelevant to how things played out. Yet perhaps that is the
way it is with scheming and conniving.
While the series has ended, the
end was no more conclusive than any of the other episodes. It stopped,
rather than resolved the various story arcs, and if there isnít a series
two, it will be an extremely unsatisfactory conclusion to say the least.
There are battles aplenty in
this episode, so the finger pecking gets a workout. As always, failure
just results in another go.
My statistics at the end
revealed that most of my choices across the episodes were in the
minority, and apparently I had proceeded with strategic cunning. Given
the carnage around me, and only the barest glimmer of hope, it must be a
very cunning strategy indeed.
I will go back and play it all
through again, making different choices to see how it plays out. It
remains a strength of these games.
Looking back on the series, the
parts were probably better than the whole. I enjoyed each episode, but,
accentuated by the way that it ended, the Forrester lot pretty much just
went downhill from the get go, and then simply stopped halfway down.
Nothing came together, some things that were elaborately set up fell
flat, and other significant threads were not heard of again. Some of
that is undoubtedly because we are playing alongside a continuing TV
series (we canít be getting ahead of ourselves with the mother of
dragons) and I get the need for reasons to come back for another series,
but it didnít feel satisfying.
I am a fan of the TV series,
have enjoyed the books I have read, and as I said, will play this again
and I will certainly sign up for any series two that might eventuate. As
a series though, Game of Thrones didnít reach the same heights as some
of Telltaleís other outings. Which doesnít make it bad by any stretch,
just ultimately not as good. The final grade is coloured by the end, but
you canít ignore that last taste in your mouth.
Full Game Grade: B
I played on:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz
RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz
Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB