Game of Thrones, Episode 1: Iron from Ice

Nothing could prevent the Red Wedding. The house of Forrester is caught in the midst of all sorts of intrigues. And alongside the terrors and troubles that the whole country has to face, they have to do whatever they can to survive and protect their precious Ironwood…

from xboxdynasty.de

from xboxdynasty.de

Telltale Games are back and finally get to present their much anticipated Game of Thrones interpretation. In style and structure similar to The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, it is based more closely on the TV series than on the novels, and largely takes place alongside the fourth season. With a total of six episodes to be released, they try to recreate the experience of Game of Thrones – and quite successfully so, judging from the first episode.

Refreshing perspectives on the same events

Both the novels and HBO’s TV show are fascinating precisely because of all the different angles that light the story by constantly switching between the points of view of several characters. And with power dynamics as complicated as this, spanning several countries, that is even necessary. Telltale keep in that style, which at first came as a surprise because it departs severely from their previous games. In the first episode, you start out as the squire Gared Tuttle, but as the story progresses and the drama builds up, it all comes together – in the eyes of Ethan Forrester, the third-born son of House Forrester living at Ironrath, and Mira Forrester, the eldest daughter currently in service to Margaery Tyrell at King’s Landing. Not only are several different yet converging storylines highlighted in such a way, but the player directly gets a feeling of diversity and intrigue from the different settings. To make sure that you’re still able to follow, the game also provides you with character backgrounds, making it easier to actually place the characters’ role in the whole narrative. And on their website, Telltale Games also offer some additional information in a family tree, which might be helpful to check out when the next episode comes out.

With great power comes great responsibility…

Or so they say. But who has the power in this case? Ten minutes into the game, you’ll likely start to feel quite guilty already, because as we all know, in Telltale Games, there are no right decisions: the only question is what decision you’ll be able to live with most. Although not all situations are life-and-death ones, the game’s typical reactions – “XY will remember this” – keep reminding you of that: in the end, people rely on you, and it’s up to you to decide who you’re going to disappoint. It was already bad in other games, but the Game of Thrones setting lends itself especially nicely to this because intrigues are everywhere, everyone is connected to someone somehow, and what you decide in one location might well be significant for another location, too. In short, the game reconstructs the dangerous, slippery and ungrateful world of the overall series, and of course it ends on a massive cliffhanger, making you angry that you’ll have to wait so long for the next episode.

Re-imagining the series?

The game fits really nicely into the whole transmedia context, and it gives you access to a plausible storyline that happens even alongside all that you’ve watched already –very clearly corresponding to the TV show, though you’ll probably still be able to enjoy it without having read or watched it before. Of course that’s dangerous territory, and I’m curious how the storyline will be developed and how much it’ll overlap with the main storylines of other media texts. And presenting this serious world in Telltale’s typical comic-book style, though this time with a much higher degree of realism and adding an oilpaint-esque quality to it all, just adds a certain something, especially because they’re trying to keep the characters’ looks as close to their real-life counterparts as possible, even using the real actors as voice actors. But don’t worry, a painted Cersei is still unbearable and frustrating, and not in any way less intimidating than her TV or novel counterparts.

All in all, and not really surprisingly, this first episode of Telltale’s new game is definitely worth playing – and it might even enhance your viewing experience next time you watch the TV show. Granted, I did encounter a few bugs here and there, but nothing major, merely some small hiccups. And with their relatively easy gameplay, consisting again largely of quicktime events, it might even be quite accessible to fans that do not have much experience with games at all.

To save money, you might want to consider getting the Season’s Pass if you decide to stick with the game after the first episode.

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