Capitalizing on the runaway success of HBO’s Game of Thrones, Telltale Games’ interactive drama sensation Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series has arrived for home consoles in a special six-episode release on disc. In this epic adventure you’ll assume the role of House Forrester, a noble family of the North loyal to the Starks of Winterfell, and make life or death choices in the brutal and dour realm of the Seven Kingdoms; all with Telltale Games’ signature brand of episodic storytelling.
Playing the game of thrones
If you’re not familiar with House Forrester you’re certainly not alone, as they are only briefly mentioned in George R. R. Martin’s work, making them canon but virtually unexplored. What’s unique about this game is that it shifts the focus from the major power players seen in the show, to the struggles of a “minor nobility” in the North trying to stay alive in this deadly War of the Five Kings. Over the course of the story, you’ll switch perspectives from five different members of this noble House (either direct family members, or those in service to House Forrester), and have to make critical split-second decisions that could affect your story, in major or subtle ways, down the road.
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Genre: Graphic adventure, Interactive drama
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
Cersei Lannister and Margaery Tyrell in King’s Landing
Knowledge of the series is not necessary, but highly recommended
As an original, self-contained story centred on House Forrester and set in the land of Westeros, it is technically possible to enjoy this game without having read George R. R. Martin’s high fantasy novels “A Song of Ice and Fire”, or watched the hit HBO show, but you’ll get way more enjoyment if you’re familiar with this series. Fans of the TV show will benefit the most, as the game is based on HBO’s adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s work, beginning towards the end of Season Three and ending just before Season Five kicks off.
One big reason why viewers of the TV show will get more out of this game is the inclusion of numerous fan-favourite characters that contributed their likeness and voices, most notably Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Snow), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen). Not only is it exciting to see how these characters are intertwined with House Forrester, but knowing their backstories, personalities and motivations will add valuable context to the story. Another nod to the HBO’s Game of Thrones are all the faithful representations of recognizable, iconic locations from the show, including King’s Landing, The Wall, Castle Black, and even far across the Narrow Sea in Essos. In short, while you can play this game without prior knowledge of the HBO series, you probably won’t want to.
Tyrion Lannister being his usual poised self
Game controls and story progression
Like in past Telltale games, there are a few different ways in which you direct the narrative. The most frequent are dialogue trees requiring you to select from a range of replies, typically consisting of amicable, neutral, or aggressive dispositions. Occasionally, in the top-left corner you’ll see a message that a particular character will “remember” your response, indicating a butterfly effect that could trickle through your personalized story. There are also action sequences where you’ll need to respond quickly to on-screen directional cues, or press specific buttons, with success or failure also potentially having an impact on how your story plays out. Finally, in some scenarios you can control your character directly to investigate your surroundings and interact with other characters.
Decisions, with limited consequences
Telltale’s Game of Thrones does a great job of giving you the illusion of choice, though if you decide to embark on a second run through taking different paths, you’ll quickly realize the overall story remains relatively unchanged no matter how you react to individual situations. Your inability to influence the story in major ways is a bit of a miss here, as it means your actions don’t have the weight or unpredictability felt in Telltale’s masterful The Walking Dead series. By contrast, in Game of Thrones, major plot points (including most characters’ deaths) are predetermined, despite your best efforts to save them.
Ramsay Snow is vile here as well
A familiar, yet captivating story
It’s abundantly obvious that the folks at Telltale Games were greatly influenced by the story arc of the Starks, since the characters of House Forrester mirror the former nearly to a tee. One member is off playing the political game in King’s Landing, another is exiled to serve at The Wall, one more is off plotting revenge in Essos, all while a strong mother figure tries to keep family safe and the House name alive. That the Forresters’ story mimics the Starks so closely means they are instantly relatable, yet at the same time feels somewhat like lazy storytelling, especially given the pedigree of Telltale Games.
Fortunately though, playing through a 12-hour campaign reminiscent of the Starks becomes very interesting when you factor in that most pivotal decisions suddenly become yours. Do you kneel before Cersei the Queen Mother, or stand tall in defiance? Do you stand with your Night’s Watch brothers, or act out against them? Do you trust Tyrion Lannister, or opt to remain suspicious? Facing these types of questions head on can really draw you in, making you feel a part of the epic Game of Thrones story.
In Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series, Telltale Games gives us a convincing story of the harsh realities facing local bannerman in the bloody and brutal War of the Five Kings. While it doesn’t quite capture the epic scale felt in the HBO series, viewing this microcosm of the larger war is captivating, moving, and sometimes quite startling. Your choices seem to matter less in this game than they do in other Telltale fare, most notably The Walking Dead, but nonetheless this mostly linear tale is worth visiting, especially for diehard Game of Thrones fans. With season 2 of this series already confirmed, this special six episode collection on disc is the best way to dive into this superb adventure.
+ Faithful representation HBO’s Game of Thrones
+ Interesting story full of intrigue
+ Great voice acting, with familiar characters from the HBO series
+ Offers an excellent value
– Essentially the same story as the Starks
– Major decisions are pre-determined
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5
Overall Rating 3.6/5 (72%)
By Paul Hunter, Editor Gaming
I work out of Toronto, Ontario as the Editor of Gaming here on the Plug-in Blog and as Editor-in-Chief of NextGen Player. I am thankful for having a loving and patient wife who doesn’t mind my 40 hour a week obsession with gaming. You can follow me on Twitter @NextGenPlayer and on my exclusive Vine gaming channel. Come join the conversation!