Game Of Thrones Episode 1: Iron From Ice
The game is not the same
Release Date: OUT NOW!
Format reviewed: Xbox One Also available on: Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, PC, Mac, iOS Publisher: Telltale Games
In the game of
thrones, you win or you die. In the game of the game of thrones, it’s slightly more subtle than that. Telltale’s visit to George RR Martin’s notoriously unfair universe gives you the reins in a world where the concept of finality is taken seriously. Most of the time, this means someone getting a knife through the throat, but here it’s more a case of sticking with decisions – even if they don’t satisfy everyone. Where Telltale normally relies on fairly social choices, options with little effect outside of the personal, Game Of Thrones the game – like the books and the TV show – deals with far grander ramifications.
At one point, a criminal needs to be punished for stealing. You’ve just been promoted to Lord, and you need to show your authority. But he’s telling you he’s innocent, and the crowd are alternately jeering and calling for mercy. Do you cut his fingers off, the standard punishment for thievery? Banish him to the Wall, far from his family? Or let him go, and risk seeming soft? There’s no wrong answer, but there’s no right one either. Here’s where Game Of Thrones differs from the Telltale formula – you’ll feel unsure in your choices whatever you do. Effects aren’t limited to an inner circle – you’re in control of hundreds of lives.
The game shines in these moments of heart- wrenching diplomacy, but they arise too rarely in a story penned in by wider Westeros happenings. Beginning in the camp outside the Red Wedding – with no context prvided for newbies who don’t know what that is – you never shake the feeling you’re just a ripple on the periphery of the exciting HBO splash. As the Forrester clan ( whose house the main characters belong to) aren’t in the show, you get the impression theirs is a fundamentally unimportant story. Admittedly, Telltale was never going to let us rewrite the main events, but the inclusion of characters from the TV series only serves as a reminder that more exciting things are going on.
That said, it still charms with its lovely smudged pastel look, and there’s no doubt the writers get the show’s fruitier grasp of language. But as solid a representation of Westeros as this is, it’s a narratively unimpressive start to what we hope will be a much more wellrounded series. Kate Gray
This is what happens if you read SFX in WHSmith without buying it.