Telltale Games have put their name to another TV franchise and this time round it is the giant that is Game of Thrones. For those not familiar with the Telltale style, the game is a combination of point-and-click and quick-time events. Those wishing to run about Westeros as Benjen Stark/Daario Naharis wielding an axe, killing whoever they please should look away now. But what the game lacks in exciting play styles, it makes up completely with an absorbing and completely interactive story.
The first episode sees you play as three different characters, all related to the House of Forrester. You start as Gared Tuttle – humble son of a pig farmer and squire to the noble Lord Gregor Forrester. Your first mission is to gather wine to further celebrate the marriage of Robb Stark (the self-proclaimed King in the North) and Jeyne Westerling. Book readers and TV watchers know what happens next and you’re stuck in the middle of it. You get out of the situation alive and have been given the responsibility of taking Lord Forrester’s sword back to your home town of Ironrath.
You also get to play as two of Lord Forrester’s children: Ethan and Mira Forrester. Ethan is not much more than a boy back at Ironwrath and Mira is acting as handmaiden for the Queen-to-be Margaery Tyrell. This means there are three main environments for you to explore: the road back to Ironwrath as Gared, the town itself as Ethan and a small section of the great King’s Landing.
One of the great things about this game is that even though ultimately it may not alter your future, every single piece of dialogue you select to say feels like it counts. There is no greater example of this than the tense public meeting with the Queen Regent Cersei Lannister as Mira. As the daughter of an ex-bannerman of the “traitor” Robb Stark, you are not exactly in Cersei’s good books. Margaery even advises you to say what Cersei wants to hear instead of what you are thinking. I kept to her counsel but even so I felt I was making errors at every turn and no matter how you start, you will feel the same (“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die” always looming over you with each click of the mouse).
The graphics are not state-of-the-art by any means. I felt there were a lot of rough edges that could have been ironed out but this is just nit picking and it definitely didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the game. To appeal to TV-watchers in particular, the real actors and their likenesses were used and through the three different playable characters you get to meet Cersei and Tyrion Lannister, Margaery Tyrell and Ramsay Snow (with the promise of at least Jon Snow in coming episodes). This was a major plus for me. Iwan Rheon’s portrayal of Ramsay Snow is perfect in the TV series and his performance in the game is no different. His voice and face could instil fear into the hardiest of souls and unlike the TV show, you have to choose what to say to him (and only the seven gods know what he’s going to do next). The game is incredible for creating impeccable suspense even in some of the most innocuous of scenes.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and the twists and turns that unfolded, after a bit of research I found there was no way to change the ultimate (and shocking) ending of the episode. You are told at the beginning of the game that every choice you make will have a significant impact on the events that unfold. However, no matter how well or badly you play the game there is no escaping what is to come. Of course this is just a current limitation of game-making technology. Even having two or three major endings per episode would require so many different scenes to be written and graphically processed which would just be too expensive.
Gameplay will last about three hours per episode and considering you get six of them, I think this sort of game is great value for £22.99 (currently on Steam). What is great about this game is you don’t have to be a video game fan or particularly any good at them, all you need is a love for a good story told well and if you are a Game of Thrones fan (and what the hell are you doing if you’re not?) then this game is definitely for you.