Game of Thrones: episode 1 Iron from Ice, Review

Over the last few of years I’ve reviewed a couple of games set in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire universe. To put it bluntly, they were all shit for one very simple reason: instead of trying to build a game that fit into the established world, the previous Game of Thrones games instead simply attached a license to a property with limited relevance to the source material. Telltale’s Game of Thrones is different. It feels relevant and alive. It feels at home in the universe of the books and TV show, and while it isn’t without its share of problems, it’s far and away the best videogame adaptation of the property we have seen so far.
 

PLAYING HOUSE
The game is set to contain five playable characters, three of whom are introduced in the first episode. Set between seasons three and four, the events of Game of Thrones are centres around House Forrester, a small but important house only briefly referenced in the books and TV series. House Forrester, former banner-men for House Stark, is responsible for the upkeep and harvesting of the rare and valuable Ironwood forests. House Stark has fallen, the War of the Five Kings is all but over and Roose Bolton is Warden of the North. How is a small house to survive in these conditions? This is exactly the dilemma the Gared Tuttle, a cousin to the Castellan of House Forrester and Squire to Lord Gregor Forrester, head of the house, Ethan Forrester, the Lord’s third son and Mira, Gregor’s eldest daughter, handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell have to grapple with.
The story cleverly focusses on The most dangerous aspect of Westeros life – politics
When a game starts with the Red Wedding, you know that danger lurks behind every corner and you shouldn't grow too fond of any one character. If you’re at all familiar with the show or books, this background knowledge significantly raises the stakes of any conversation, lending a new level of tension to a Telltale game. The story cleverly focusses on the most dangerous aspect of Westeros life politics so there is very little QTE style action to speak of. This isn’t a problem, as each guarded conversation carries enough menace to stand in for a sword fight.

Unfortunately the three main characters in the first episode come across as almost exact copies of already established GoT characters to make them as compelling as they should be. Gared is like a nebbish Job Snow, Mira is a doppelganger of Sansa and Ethan is Bran with working legs. Even so, Iron from Ice is still an intriguing introduction to House Forrester and the North under the rule of Roose Bolton and by extension his sociopathic illegitimate son, Ramsay Snow. Hopefully we’ll see the main characters fleshed out better in subsequent episodes.

8/10

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