|Telltale's Game of Thrones not only takes place on Westeros but Essos too|
- Review by: Mark Goninon
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Publisher: Telltale Games
- Release Date: 3 December 2014
- Time played: 11.3 hours
What is itIt's yet another Telltale adventure! That means a game that is as close to an interactive movie/animation/comic book that you can get. Challenging puzzles are instead replaced by quick-time events and lots of conversation trees – but what you say during those conversations are important as it changes the course of the story. As I'm not a "Game of Thrones" fan, I'm not quite sure when the events of the game take place with respect to the books or the TV series but it starts at an event called "The Red Wedding" and goes on for a few months following that. You play the role of not one character but five in this game who all belong to a minor house called House Forrester (that is in fact, actually mentioned in the books, but only briefly): eldest son to Lord Gregor Forrester, Rodrick, second son Asher, eldest daughter Mira, third son Ethan and squire Gared Tuttle. Through your actions, you will determine the fate of those who have sworn allegiance to House Forrester, not only from the keep of Ironrath but also from the Wall, King's Landing and even the continent of Essos.
The game takes place over five episodes as well as a finale (so six episodes in total) and takes just over 11 hours to complete.
How I got itWhile I already had quite a few Telltale adventure games by the beginning of this year I still didn't have Batman – The Telltale Series nor did I have Minecraft: Story Mode or Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series. So when a Humble Bundle came out in July that offered these games and more for USD $15, it seemed like too good a deal to miss. As you know from my Minecraft: Story Mode review, I'm not much of a fan when it comes to the Minecraft franchise; I also confess to not knowing much about Game of Thrones either, being in the 1% of the world population that hasn't read the books or watched the TV show. However, since I generally enjoy Telltale adventures I thought it was worth a shot – and why couldn't my first foray into the Game of Thrones franchise be a computer game?
What I like:
Compelling PlotThere's a lot of drama, political intrigue and you'll be bombarded with ethical dilemmas left, right and centre when playing this game. Tough decisions will be made and often, there never is a best way of going about things (similar to Telltale's The Walking Dead).
Don't need to be a fan of the seriesI went into this game as a Game of Thrones virgin, so despite the game being nothing more than "Telltale Fantasy Adventure #1" to me, I still thoroughly enjoyed the game. From what I could corroborate with friends and family that are fans of the show, the characters based off the show are authentic too, which means it also gives you a bit of insight into a few of the major characters if you ever decide to watch the TV show (or read the books).
Besides, most of the game is seen through the eyes of House Forrester family and allies – meaning any characters from the TV show usually just serve as a means of framing the game's events within the show's timeline; it also means for newcomers and fans alike, they will start on equal footing with respect to the roles they assume since House Forrester has never been thoroughly described in either the show or the books.
|The Forrester family. You get to play as four of the characters here as well as a squire called Gared|
Multiple protagonistsI've always been a fan of adventure games with multiple player characters/protagonists, especially ones where the protagonists can actually help each other out in terms of resolving problems. I believe there's a little bit of that happening here but not as much as some classic games such as Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle or Fahrenheit. At the very least, you get multiple views of what people think of House Forrester from across Westeros (and even as far away as Essos).
Differing finalesI've read quite a few negative reviews about the lack of choice or the "illusion of choice" with respect to this game but I'm not sure if it's a specific criticism of Telltale's Game of Thrones or just Telltale adventure games in general. For the latter, I can't do much about: you're either going to love the types of adventure games Telltale have been pumping out over the past five years or you're going to loathe them. However, I can say that when compared to other Telltale adventures from recent years, Game of Thrones actually offers quite a bit of difference with respect to the finale. Sure, the overarching end-state might be the same to a degree, but you end up choosing who lives and dies (and they're not minor characters) plus depending on who you picked to save prior to the finale, resolving the feud between your house and your enemy will be done via different approaches (houses are always feuding in Game of Thrones so that's surely not a spoiler).
In fact, there are quite a few variables that can be chosen and I've counted at least 16 different endings in terms of whether certain characters live or die, as well as deciding whether a certain army leaves or stays (I shall say no more!). Season 2 is going to be a bit tricky to develop with all these different potential outcomes (unless they take the game from another House's perspective perhaps?)
EpilogueI'm a sucker for a good epilogue and it's good to see that Telltale took some effort in this one. At the end of every episode in recent Telltale adventures you usually get a summary of which choices you made and how you compare to the general population with respect to those choices; the epilogue for Telltale's Game of Thrones goes one step further and takes five important choices made during the course of the entire game and then deciding whether you made a "red" choice or "blue" choice. Red choices are considered fierce, noble or passionate choices whereas blue choices are considered smart, cunning or tactical choices. It basically determines whether you're a "the end justifies the means" kind of guy/gal or one who will keep their honour intact, no matter the cost (and believe you me, that is difficult to do in this game).
(There's a really good guide that describes this all and it's located here).
Oil painting styleAll the Telltale adventures I've played so far have a distinctive comic book style which suits several of the games since they're usually based off comic books (such as The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us or Batman), so it's good to see Telltale experiment with slightly different styles like the voxel graphical style which mimics the source material in Minecraft: Story Mode and the oil painting style employed in this game.
Excellent voice acting by talented voice castI was impressed at how many from the TV series reprised their roles in the game, such as Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Snow/Bolton, Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Kit Harington as Jon Snow, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Lena Heady as Cersei Lannister.
But I shouldn't downplay the voice acting by those who played the protagonists: Russ Bain (Rodrik Forrester), Alex Jordan (Asher Forrester), Martha Mackintosh (Mira Forrester), Christopher Nelson (Ethan Forrester) and Daniel Kendrick (Gared Tuttle).
Great soundtrack by Jared-Emerson JohnsonTelltale's in-house composer Jared Emerson-Johnson has done a fantastic job once again and it just goes to show how diverse he is as a composer, able to competently score in several styles.
Steam AchievementsGame of Thrones is one of the "easy" Telltale games when it comes to achievements: just complete the game and you'll get 100% (and another "Perfect Game" on your Steam profile).
The game has no Steam Trading Cards.
What I dislike:
Jerky animationsLike many Telltale adventure games before, Game of Thrones also suffers from the jerky animations, which is a pity since there aren't many flaws with this game but poor animation in an adventure game is a real killer – more so than other genres.
Not much in the way of puzzle solvingWhile there's ethical dilemmas aplenty and lots of Quick-Time Events, once again this is a Telltale adventure with a lack of puzzles to solve and it's not like they even bothered to try in this one (at least Minecraft: Story Mode and Batman – A Telltale Series gives you the illusion of puzzle solving – yes, first they give you the illusion of choice and in recent games, the illusion of puzzle solving 😊).
|Jon Snow sums up what everyone thinks of House Forrester|
You have to be a jerkCompared to other Telltale adventures, Game of Thrones is similar to The Walking Dead in terms of making you feel like a total jerk no matter which option you pick. In fact, the entire game you'll be digging yourself into a deeper and deeper hole which is at least probably very realistic, I mean, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there right? However, you're probably going to feel pretty depressed after some decisions and questioning your lack of morals since you don't get a choice at times but to pick what you believe are the lesser of two evils.
For example, in one instance I had to make the choice between betraying a friend's trust or creating an elaborate lie. I tried to stay silent when asked the question (since there was no option to change the topic either) but ultimately, you're not let off the hook. So, I eventually chose the lie option hoping it would be a white lie or a lie of omission but nope, I instead created a really elaborate lie which would definitely land me in hot water if the truth was ever revealed. Crap.
Score – 8/10 (Recommended)Coming from someone who has never watched the TV show or read the books, Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series is a compelling fantasy adventure game where you play the roles of multiple protagonists all trying to keep their House from total extinction; the game also concludes with an epic finale and epilogue with so many potential endings it makes me wonder how Telltale are going to make it all work in Season 2. The soundtrack and voice cast (including some from the actual TV series) are top notch too.
The only faults are the ones that usually accompany Telltale adventures: jerky animations and lack of actual puzzle solving. However, if you can overlook these flaws you'll find a Telltale adventure worth your time – even if you're a Game of Thrones virgin.
Is the game worth $29.99 USD?: Yes, but only just: that's just under $40 AUD for one of the better Telltale adventures out there. Definitely worth it if you can get it on sale.
If you like this game, you might like...
[ LINK: Official Game of Thrones – A Telltale Game Series Website ]