Need a fresh dose of heartbreak, despair and anger before the July 16 season premiere? Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series has you covered. Despite being an original story this is one of the most faithful to the source material licensed games. Occasionally, that faithfulness proves a detriment to the overall enjoyment of the game.
All Telltale Games have an overall narrative. Players can select from conversation options and make the occasional big decision (I.e. which character will you save?), but you won’t have the kind of control of events to have a happy ending.
I was a little bummed out with that realization as I wanted a do-over with the events in Westeros. Like the books and show, the game is broken up into chapters that shift to various members of the Forrester clan.
The family is a Stark analogy and while initially, I had the illusion of being able to make all the correct moves Ned Stark didn’t, tragedy eventually is unavoidable. It is Game of Thrones after all.
To quickly establish that overwhelming sense of doom, the game begins concurrently to events unfolding in The Rains of Castamere.
In addition to killing Robb Stark and his army, House Forrester’s patriarch is killed. Like the series, the Forrester children now have to restore the honor of their house before enemies on either side overrun them.
There’s Rodrik, the Robb analogy of the good and faithful son; Asher, the younger son who’s enjoying life in the wild as a mercenary; Ethan, the third eldest and twin to sister Talia and youngest child Ryan. Sister Mira is at Kings Landing serving as a handmaiden to the future queen Margaery. Another character is Gared Tuttle, a loyal soldier in the Forrester clan.
As loyal bannermen to the Starks, House Forrester is on the losing side of the War of the Five Kings and the victors are ready to claim their spoils.
Of the various subplots, Mira’s is the least interesting. She has the best interactions thanks to moments with Tyrion and Cersei Lannister, but the script never allows her to be a real political player like Littlefinger. Asher probably has the most fun since he’s away from the doom in gloom at House Forrester, which has several tragic moments play out through the game.
Occasionally, players can make a truly disastrous decision leading to a Valar Morghulis scenario where the characters get killed. In some cases, making the boneheaded move is worth it just to see a hated bad guy get killed, even if only temporarily.
Ramsay Snow is the most infuriating show character to appear as he casually kills off characters. That wouldn’t be so bad if there was the option to get some payback on the little psycho, but he’s untouchable. At least now I can just rewatch Battle of the Bastards to enjoy seeing his fate.
Telltale’s now familiar watercolor art style works well with this fantasy world even if the show actors have a more realistic appearance. There’s some occasional weird ‘smearing’ of the characters with their edges bleeding into the background, but otherwise the animation is up to Telltale standards.
Another signature element of the Telltale saga is the excellent voice work, which remains the case here. I was happy to hear the show cast (Lena Headey, Natalie Dormer, Peter Dinklage, Kitt Harington, Iwan Rheon and Emilia Clarke) not sleepwalking through their vocal performances. They delivered their lines with the same passion or cold pattern of speech as they do on the show, providing an extra dose of credibility. But the game’s main cast including Daniel Kendrick, Russ Bain, Alex Jordan, Brian George, Geoffrey Leesley, Molly Stone and Lara Pulver are exceptional.
No matter how savvy your decisions or hours invested with the characters, some are going to get killed off. That’s in keeping with the spirit of the show, but it was mildly annoying making the choices that get your characters killed. It would have been nice to have a flawless scenario where you could make the right choices and keep all the characters safe.
If nothing else, Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series immediately had me eager to run through the game at least one more time to see how different choices would impact the story.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Telltale Games