Game of Thrones: Episode 1 – Iron From Ice Review

Novels, movies and TV shows are one thing, but transforming excellent franchises from such mediums into a successful and fully-functioning videogame is another kettle of fish altogether – just ask anyone who has played Aliens: Colonial Marines, Terminator Salvation or Superman 64. Fortunately, HBO’s amazingly well put together television series, Game of Thrones, has been picked up by Telltale Games – a developer renowned for their engrossing interactive storytelling, whose credentials include the excellent episodic series of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. Although this is a promising prospect, will the style of gameplay work with Game of Thrones?

The game picks up during the Red Wedding, an event that takes place towards the end of the third season of the television show (and the middle of the third book), so it is highly recommended that you watch or read the series at least to that point to avoid potential spoilers. The first episode feels more like an introduction than anything else; re-establishing the world of Westeros, inserting some new characters, and reassuring fans that the violence, depressing overtones and occasional outpouring of bad language are all present and accounted for.

In terms of gameplay, for fans of Telltale’s previous efforts, there will be few surprises in store from Game of Thrones. Players can move and interact with people and objects in the environment, follow on-screen button prompts to perform actions and explore a few select areas. There is also the trademark dialogue heavy gameplay, providing a rich storytelling experience and allowing you to make important decisions and sculpt the story as you see fit (within reason).

Game of Thrones switches things up a little by allowing players to not only control a single protagonist, but instead control multiple members of the same family. Each character has a different take on events, and decisions made by each will no doubt have an impact on others as the series progresses. There is a nice spread of characters too, including Gregor (a squire to the Forrester’s lord), Ethan (the teenage son thrust into a leadership position) and his sister, Mira (a handmaiden in the capital, King’s Landing). Although these characters will feel very familiar to those well versed in the series to date (they are totally the Starks), it is nice to see them shown in a different context and be able to determine their fate.

The focus on multiple protagonists is an interesting idea, as it allows the developers to tell multiple small stories set in different locales with an overarching narrative in the same way as the books and the television shows do. Thus, decisions made by one character can effect what happens to another in a different location and vice versa, which will hopefully lead to a cascading series of consequences as the game’s story unfolds.

Fans of the television series will no doubt enjoy the cast of characters that help shape the journey of the protagonists, as many of the stars of the show have lent their voice talents to the game. The first episode sees Cercei and Tyrion Lannister, Margery Tyrell and the sadistic Ramsay Bolton make an appearance. Each sports a solid likeness to the actors in the show and said actors have delivered a decent enough voice-over performance for the well written script, which captures their attitudes and actions quite well.

Unfortunately, as with most of Telltale’s work, the game suffers from quite a bit of visual stuttering and drops in framerates, even on new consoles. Furthermore, although the cast, voice acting and dialogue are all solid, with the exception of a cliff-hanger at the end, the majority of the game felt like setup work to just introduce characters and locations for the episodes to come.

Although Game of Thrones – Episode 1: Iron From Ice seems a little light on, due to most of the episode establishing the world and characters and not really providing anything new, it has done a decent job at laying a solid foundation for the episodes to come. It has stuck to the series’ roots, maintaining the gloomy vibe, brutality and style of storytelling that fans will appreciate and will leave newcomers wanting more.

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