George R.R. Martin and HBO are making a killing in the world of television through the adaptation of Mr Martin’s original books, A Song of Ice and Fire, in the form of Game of Thrones. Although it has had a video game outing once already, this time it’s in the hands of the experienced creators of episodic adventures, Telltale Games. Can Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series open with an episode (Iron From Ice) enthralling enough to hook the player in to stay for the stories to come?
Well I’m disappointed to say that it hasn’t.
I think that’s in most part due to the introduction of the characters (not seen on TV as of yet) from House Forrester. The player is thrust into the middle of The War of the Five Kings at the time of a rather colourful wedding. Keeping the noble House Forrester and their fortress Ironrath, situated in the north of Westeros, away from danger becomes the main priority. To achieve this you’ll need to control various characters’ lives, five in total but for this episode it’s just the three.
Now I don’t want to spoil too much about them, so I’ll keep it simple. Not all of the playable characters are actual members of the Forrester family, in fact the first you’ll discover is a lowly squire named Gared Tuttle. He really is in the wrong place at the wrong time and now he’ll have to step up in order to help the House he serves.
The other two are Forresters, Mira the eldest daughter of Lord Gregor, residing at King’s Landing as a handmaiden and Ethan her brother, a young Lord in waiting with no idea of the choices he may have to make. Now herein lies the problem, I’m not sure there are sufficient qualities in any of their personalities or look to render them memorable.
Maybe it’s a bit critical after a single episode, however I struggled to feel any real connection to those whom I controlled, they were just a bunch of people with northern accents to me. In fact, out of all the newly introduced characters there was only one, possibly two that really stood out and that was probably down to their foul mouths.
True to the television show, you will hear swears aplenty and I don’t just mean the F word so please bear that in mind before you gather the family round to join in. Add a few recognisable stars (voiced by the actors who portray them on-screen) like Tyrion, Cersei and everyone’s favourite psycho Ramsay Snow plus a bit of violence and you’ll start to feel a little more comfortable. Still it’s quite noticeable that they’ve spent more time on implementing the models of these well known characters, which bothers me as it makes the rest look bad.
What about the interactions? Don’t expect nearly as much action as the recent Borderlands tale; instead this has a real focus on the spoken words. Never has a tongue been more important in obtaining what you desire or in shooting yourself in the proverbial foot. There are decisions to make, a lot of decisions and every single one could affect not only your life but the rest of the House too.
I got a kick out of knowing all my choices could potentially change the story so much even this early on in the six-part series. It is the most difficult task I’ve been given in these Telltale games because everyone you talk to has their own agenda and it’s hard to judge who to keep close and who to antagonise, whether intentional or not. Don’t poke the hornet’s nest too much though; you could end up meeting an early demise.
Despite being a fan of the TV series, able to appreciate all that is going on around the central characters, even I struggled at times to keep my attention on the job at hand due to my lack of care for Mira, Ethan or Gared. Hopefully that’ll change as the series goes on; I’ll have to chalk this one up as a foundation episode which the rest that follow can build on. There was a lack of action; it wasn’t an issue though as heated confrontations and being given oodles of responsibility over people’s lives just about made up for that.
Try Episode One: Iron From Ice if you’re prepared to give it time to build the bonds between you and House Forrester.