The hugely successful TV adaptation of the George R.R Martin imagined universe made the jump to console in 2014 with no better partner than Telltale Games. Gaming affiliations with TV and movies have historically never gone that well, ET is a prime example of that. However with Telltale games they have become masters of delivering famous IP in a story driven format that brings stories to life and with consequence. Season 1 of Game of Thrones by Telltale games is a prime example of such a feat, however does it keep its throne for video gaming storytelling?
Up until now Telltale has delivered its take on famous IP in its own vein, portraying The Walking Dead with new characters, Borderlands from a human element or through unique plot twists in the Fables universe. The move to tackle Game of Thrones as a telltale story was interesting in two fronts. One would Telltale get the opportunity to put its own stamp and deliver a unique story not yet told? Two HBO were behind this in partners which meant creative license must comply within the already delivered story and not spoiling any upcoming episodes ahead of season 5 launching.
A year later though we have seen Telltale deliver another master stroke weaving in the forester family to the Game of Thrones world imagined by HBO. The family which makes appearances in the books but only the informed Game of Thrones fan would really know about. This has given Telltale the license it needed to carve a story it could call its own enabling strong player choice, a sense of the unknown whilst remaining true to the roots instilled by the HBO series.
Episodes one and two for this series were fantastic and you can check out our reviews here. They marked their territory well and built player intrigue by basing this stories beginnings around a huge event in Game of Thrones Lore, the “Red Wedding”. A scene instantly recognisable and one which helped players feel at home and fans of the series would know which side to fight for. A very clever move from Telltale as it gave me the player empowerment to act from the get go without worrying about consequence.
Despite the strong beginnings of the episodic series Telltale suffered similar issues to its other IP’s. Padding and irrelevant story dialogue with a lack of player interactions and choice made playing through episodes 3 & 4 almost like going through the motions. Whether this is down to being over stretched trying to deliver a 6 episode series where in the past it would have been 5 is only for Telltale games to know but in my opinion this stagnated the game and didn’t offer me the fast pace player choice I’ve come to know from other titles.
So we get to episode 6 and if you’ve been like me waiting for the conclusion since the tense ending to episode 5 then episode 6 will in a few ways deliver a story you decided upon. It was a consistent criticism levied at the game since its launch that player choice is no longer having consequence and other titles like Life is Strange are demonstrating how impactful and immersive such choices can be in game play. Telltale have let their foot of the gas in this aspect and being rather coy to get involved in any conversation around it. This is no surprise as Epsiode 6 delivers on player choices built throughout the previous episodes, the trailer for the 6th episode shown below and filled with spoilers indicates some of the those choices you made earlier that impact you now. So I would recommend a good couple playthroughs to really see how things can pan out for the forrester family.
With episode 6 “The Ice Dragon” what was great about the episode was its faster pace through the various storylines with the exception of Mira’s. The Mira storyline which has been used as a vehicle to show the goings on in Kings Landing was a bit of a weak one and in episode 6 you see this slow story amount to alot of inconsequence, this is disappointing in many ways as throughout all the episodes this was the weakest story line but the one which had access to most of the key actors from the TV series, Cersei Lannister appears in all but the first episode and hopes for a plot twisting appearance in the season finale are short lived. Reflecting back after playing episode 6 a couple times through this storyline could have been forgotten and better time focused on delivering more for the other lead characters or environments enabling a deeper exploration of some of these newer parts of the Game of Thrones universe.
In terms of the main storyline being a quest to find the North Grove and what riches it has unfortunately episode 6 did nothing to enlighten us enough on what this is and instead focused more on the characters within this location. I would have liked Telltale to have explored what the north grove is in more detail before placing me in a position to make what in many ways was a gut wrenching decision.
Gut wrenching decisions aside Telltale’s ability to pull at your squeamish side is incredibly powerful and it feels with every turn they are looking for ways to turn the dial up a little further. it fits well within the Game of Thrones universe and is a one of several layers of excessive violence found in the game, definitely not one to let your kids play when they complete the Minecraft story. Other such horrors I found in the game were the usual performance issues but for episode 6 they were extremely noticeable. Yet again art direction shows the games rough edges with some lines straight and some jagged beyond belief. In addition the button prompts on several occasions would show the Xbox Controller prompts rather than the Playstation ones. No big deal but its these little touches to detail that distract from the immersion and is unforgivable when its issues Telltale should be aware of and actively fixing.
Overall Episode 6 delivers on some fronts but left me feeling a bit unsatisfied with the ending, there wasnt enough here to feel closure and yet there was enough for me to make fatal decisions on some characters I had just seen enough of. The introduction of the long awaited North Grove for me isnt explored enough and hopefully this will be revisited so players and I alike can understand what its riches are. consequences in episode 6 felt more impactful in the way they should have done earlier in the season but for me it still feels like the road is laid out and its telltale who dictate rather than me what the route of the story is. With HBO and Telltale Games having signed up for a multi series deal its inevitable that a season 2 of Game of Thrones will arrive however as yet remains unannounced. At the very least its a game any Game of Thrones fan should have in their library in order to explore the universe they love whilst gaining an easy Platinum trophy to boot.
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Telltale games Game of Thrones is now available on PS4, Xbox One, PC and also available at retail.
Telltale Games Game of Thrones Season 1 was provided for review on Playstation 4 by Telltale Games PR.