wed 17/10/2018

Game of Thrones Episode 1: Iron From Ice | reviews, news & interviews

Game of Thrones Episode 1: Iron From Ice

Game of Thrones Episode 1: Iron From Ice

Lashings of intrigue but poor pacing mars this pilot episode

'Game of Thrones Episode 1: Iron From Ice': A cautiously welcomed adventure

Telltale Games has pioneered the 'box set' model of gaming with their hit episodic adventures based in the Walking Dead universe as well as The Wolf Among Us, set in the modern fairytale world of the Fables comics. Telltale's long-awaited Game of Thrones licence has now launched on multiple platforms. Does their signature blend of multiple choices and moral dilemmas lend itself to George RR Martin's brutal fantasy world?

The answer is a cautious yes. The typical Telltale title is an adventure based around well-drawn set pieces with your protagonist unfolding their story by solving puzzles, taking crucial decisions and interacting with other characters. Unlike many role playing conversations, what you say in a Telltale game really matters, shaping how other characters see you and and driving the plot. The emphasis on character interaction would seem well suited to the court intrigue and scheming of the saga and anyone familiar with the grisly deaths in the Walking Dead games would have no trouble believing that Telltale could handle the HBO drama's ultraviolence.

Game of ThronesThe plot concerns the fortunes of House Forrester, a minor noble house largely unmentioned in the official canon, that finds itself in the unfortunate position of having sided with the doomed attempt to establish Robb Stark as the King of the North. As loyal Stark bannermen, the Forresters are out of favour with the ruling Lannisters and in danger of losing the lands surrounding their fortress at Ironrath. Over the six episode season, you will control several characters in adventures that span the entire kingdom, including the icy Wall and the temperate climate (but frosty reception) of Kings Landing.

The problem is one of pace. The decision to give you control of several characters - three in this opening episode with two more promised - combined with the need to establish the background and some sense of the Forrester's history means that the two hours or so of gameplay feel fragmented and at times almost plodding. This could simply be a teething problem and certainly by the end of the episode things seem on track and very much in keeping with the shocking cliffhangers fans of the show may be hoping for. Nevertheless, Iron From Ice feels like something of a damp squib.

There is a lot to enjoy here however, especially if you are a fan of the show (the game follows the TV continuity, which differs slightly from the books) and have dreamed of exploring Westeros. Voice acting is mostly decent with strong turns from show regulars Peter Dinklage (Tyrion), Lena Headey (Cersei), Iwan Rheon (a particularly nasty Ramsay Snow) and Natalie Dormer (Margarey Tyrell). The choice of the Red Wedding (ask a fan, watch the colour drain from their face) as the setting for the opening scenes is a smart one, plunging the player into a typically bloody situation from the get-go.

Game of ThronesThe animation is a little jerky at times, and Android gamers in particular suffered through some horrible voice sync problems until a hastily issued patch, but the core of the game is sound. Moral choices in The Walking Dead were often clear cut, but for some characters here there are no clearly right or wrong decisions. Will your subservient attitude please the Queen Regent or would you be better to remain defiant, despite the damage this could cause to your main ally at Court? Should you show mercy to a thief or will your people see this as weakness? Does this ultimately matter, given the enemies at the gate?

Game of Thrones has the potential to be an absorbing storytelling experience and Episode 1 lays the groundwork for three intriguing plotlines. The ending makes it clear that there are surprises ahead and I was certainly left wanting more. As a standalone episode however, Iron from Ice lacks punch.

A typically bloody situation from the get-go...

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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