Game Of Thrones Episode 1: Iron From Ice

The game is not the same

SFX - - Videogames/ Miscellaneous -

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.

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