Given the amount of Telltale adventure games out there at the moment, and how much I love Game of Thrones so wouldn’t want the series to be ruined, I was sceptical at first about the new Game of Thrones Adventure game. It wasn’t until Sony had their 10% discount one weekend along with a sale because of their downtime over christmas that I decided to take the plunge and finally buy a telltale series whilst they’re still in development (instead of waiting until they’re finished like I usually do). So, with that being said, here’s my impressions on the first opening episodes (be warned, there will be spoilers throughout this).
Unlike other Telltale games, Game of Thrones will have you playing as multiple characters throughout the episodes, putting you in many different situations. You start out the episode as a squire called Garad who works for lord Forester, a noble knight who has allied himself and his army with the Starks. Your camp is based outside the Boltons keep on the night of the Red wedding (a part in the show/books where the Starks are effectively killed off from the series), meaning lots of death will be awaiting you in the first opening scene. Once the massacre ensues, it’s up to you to get out of the forest with information from the lord on what to tell your own uncle, something you don’t understand, and have to option to adhere to with the many decisions you now must make.
Eventually, you’ll come across your own family home, which has been ransacked by thieves from a competing family not too far away. In your desperation, you manage to fight off two of them, with a third one running away to tell his lord of your crimes against their house. Garads family is dead, and he must still make his way to the family’s (Forrester) household. It’s here that you learn that the new lord of the house is a young boy (about 15 in age) and is now struggling to be a lord with all of its decisions. It was taking control of Ethan that I had some of the more interesting moments in the series, with big decisions having to be made with next to no prior knowledge of what is right, and what is wrong.
The final character you take control of in this episode is Ethan’s sister, Mira, who’s at kings landing, and is a servant to Margaery Tyrell, the soon to be wife of Joefrey, king of the 7 kingdoms. It’s up to Mira to try and get support from the capital before the forresters rival family tries to take over their control of the forest of ironwood; world renowned for making the best ships and shields available. Mira’s part of the story is interesting, albeit fairly bitchy considering she’s at the capital and is being interrogated by Tyrian and Cersai Lannister. It’s an interesting break from what happens in the north, but starts to show the fractures in Telltale’s story telling in their games, with your decisions really having no impact on how the story actually unfolds. I suppose it’s genuis that they actually make you feel that your decisions will have consequences, but with so many games under their belt now, you’re sure and know these stories will play out the same regardless of what you do.
Eventually the game puts you back in Ethans shoes, pushing you to make decisions which will effect the whole family and your subjects. I have to admit that at times I struggled for an answer when presented with multiple decisions, but eventually said I would meet the new warden of the north in my hall, since the family doesn’t have much of an army and is just trying to get into the Lanisters good books after being loyal to the Starks for so long. After a length dialogue, the episode ends with Ethan being stabbed, a conclusion I found disappointing considering how well I believed it had gone up until that point, but a conclusion that apparently happens to everyone that plays the game, regardless of the decisions you make.
So, what did I think of the episode, and Game of Thrones translation to a adventure game series? Well first, it sucks that you need to be watching the TV series or reading the books in order to truly know whats going on in the game. I understand companies want “transmedia” content, but when many are pushed away from a game purely because they don’t have any knowledge outside of that game, it just sucks as a whole in my opinion. As for yet another game being made by Telltale games? I can’t help but think they’re being stretched pretty thin from a company stand point, with many of the scenes feeling underwhelming or outrightly blunt due to lack of funding or lack of staff available to make assets. One example I did not like was getting Garad to try and look outside the Forresters house window to the accompanying ironwoods behind, only to get Garad seen from a different angle to mutter the words “wow, look at the ironwoods”. It just felt.. bland to say the least, and severely limiting considering what we’ve come to expect from the TV series with all of its bells and whistles.
So is Game of Thrones a worthwhile purchase? So far, I’d say no. Granted, its nice to see the kingdom of westeros from a different perspective, especially from a new family standpoint who are effected by the bigger events in the show. But for all of it’s big branding, the game feels underwhelming so far, with decisions that ultimately amount to nothing. For a game whose entire premise is the decisions you make, time will only tell if Telltale games manage to put more effort into branching the story depending on what you choose to do, as it’s the biggest advantage gaming has over other mediums: the ability to choose and be an active member of a story rather than a passive onlooker.