Game of Thrones: Episode One – Iron From Ice captures the essence of the TV show it’s based upon and sets the tone for the series
Telltale Games are on a roll. They’ve managed to put out several quality releases in 2014, starting with The Wolf Among Us, followed by 2014’s best Borderlands game, Tales from the Borderlands, ultimately ending on a high with this interactive companion experience to everyone’s favourite TV show to pirate, Game of Thrones. Iron From Ice wasn’t even the best Telltale game of last year, sitting at the bottom of the pile featuring those particular gems, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting to play. The show and books finally have a game worthy of the Game of Thrones name thanks to some good writing, interesting characters and tense moments.
The North remembers
Playing as several members of Stark Bannermen, House Forrester, it is up to you to take some tough decisions that affect not just individual characters, but the house itself. The game begins in parallel with the fun-and-frolic party that is the Red Wedding at the Twins, with the player being introduced to the game’s mechanics—as with other Telltale games, Iron From Ice is dialogue and QTE intensive. The lack of complexity in terms of gameplay is a common occurrence in Telltale’s other titles as well and this doesn’t change. This allows focus on narrative, characters and story based content which is the developer’s strong suit. It’s all about the dialogue in Iron From Ice, with enough and more opportunities on offer to completely panic and say something stupid, not say anything at all, or come up with a witty retort inadvertently. The game is set in famous locales, from the aforementioned Twins to the North and even King’s Landing, all while featuring cameos from main characters such as Tyrion, Cersei and chief antagonist, Ramsay Snow, all of whom are voiced by the original show cast.
If you’re a fan of the original fiction (and by association, Martin’s penchant for killing off any likeable character of importance), you’ll probably have a better idea of how to ‘behave’ as each character. For instance, knowing your place as a squire, knowing your courtesies as a lord or handmaiden. Of course, that will not stop you from giving each Forrester family member their own personality purely based on your choices and dialogue options. It’s good to see Telltale rewarding fans in this fashion while making Iron From Ice a still-accessible experience for newcomers.
Winter is coming, but it’s taking a shortcut
The game is great at establishing tension-filled set pieces. While adventure gaming purists will frown at the lack of actual puzzles, the puzzling in Telltale’s Game of Thrones all hinges upon what you say and do. There are edge-of-the-seat moments in every given scene with both, a war of words and occasionally, swords. It does a great job of making you feel like your actions have major consequences—even if they have no impact on the eventual outcome.
However, that doesn’t mean that Iron From Ice doesn’t take any shortcuts. To begin with, one can’t help but notice that each of the family members of House Forrester are mirror images of their Stark counterparts, not just in appearance, but in personality as well. This makes the experience familiar, but the universe lends itself to the creation of characters with different layers of complexity, and it’s disappointing to see Telltale take the easy way out. Fortunately, there’s the illusion of freedom to craft personalities, forge alliances and basically feel like you’re affecting the game’s universe in more than a few ways. Twists and turns are greatly complemented by mostly good writing and voice acting, while a cliff-hanger ending sets up the rest of the series quite nicely.
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