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For anyone not familiar with Game of Thrones they will be greeted with a bleak world of incest, death and despair where life is never fair. Telltale manages to keep to that same format making Iron from Ice feel like an interactive episode of the show, sitting itself nicely between season 3 and 4 of the HBO show. Episode 1: “Iron from Ice” runsat a reasonable 2 hours long with each dialogue choice feeling like the littlest slip could be the destruction of House Forrester. With a bunch of original characters that you control and a strong ending, it leaves much anticipation for this 6 episode series.
Firstly I should clarify that if this is your first time with Game of Thrones I would suggest putting down the game and popping in the DVD first. Telltale’s Game of Thrones is made for long time existing fans and very much relies on your knowledge of the world and its characters. I would suggest skipping this game completely until you have caught up with season 3 of the show as the game starts with a massive spoiler and events those fans would remember.
Fans of the show will know that it jumps between characters and locations consistently and this game isn’t any different. It even has its own opening titles that mock the show, with the same beautiful music that fans have come to love from the opening credits. The music doesn’t stop there though; throughout Iron from Ice, we get subtle and beautiful tones from Kings Landing and brand new music from House Forrester.
Episode 1 jumps between its three controlled protagonists Garred Tuttle squire to Lord Forrester, Ethan Forrester, who steps up to the throne in his fathers absence, and Mira Forrester hand maiden to Margery Tyrell and Ethan’s older sister. Each one has their own distinct character and role to play in saving House Forrester from its own destruction.
Garred is in the heat of it constantly his dialogue and decisions are simple with his scenes based around quick time events and bloodshed. It breaks up the dialogue and brutally tough scenes that Garred must witness and sets the tone for Game of Thrones quite nicely. He’s only ever given one simple but great task of keeping a secret quiet and getting it to the right person, whilst choosing whether saving someone is the better option then letting them die. Something any fan has become accustomed to so it won’t feel to far away from the norm. While you are told whom this secret is to be given to, you do have the choice to tell other people, making great replay value that we have become accustomed to with Telltale games.
Ethan’s scenes are where Game of Thrones may be at its strongest. A young man whose heated and tense confrontations with the leaders of rival households will make you sweat. These scenes all show some of the strongest acting and writing from the first episode. While certain decisions in the episode won’t seem like big decisions at the moment, for the diplomatic stance of the house and later episodes, thinking ahead might be a good thing. We are also able to craft are own lord in Ethan – do you want a harsh or lenient lord?
Mira’s scenes in Kings Landing change up the colour pallet from the brown and grey that greet us at House Forrester. It also introduces us to a few familiar faces from the show and fleshes out the plot with the power struggle between Cersei and Margery. Choosing whether to kneel to Cersei or go against her brings tough choices that feel like they will affect her stay in Kings Landing across the next 5 episodes. A lot of this first episode is about looking at the bigger picture and thinking about while this may not affect me now, my decisions may affect me later down the line when I least expect it.
The painterly art style chosen for the game makes it look beautiful but at times can make things feel distracting when a movement of the camera changes. Strokes in the background can sometimes shimmer and change but it doesn’t take away from what is a beautiful game. Even when certain animations can be glitchy by limbs vanishing or warping in and out of place.
These glitches only really happen when portraying some of the shows characters that appear Tyrion, Cersei, Margery and Ramsey. But while it happens rarely it doesn’t take away from brilliant performances by all of them. The actors from the show voices each one of them and it feels authentic, with subtle facial expressions that feel familiar to the actors whether it’s Cersei’s sneer or the evil expression of Ramsey Botlon.
Tough and sometimes horrible decisions, with new original characters and strong writing and acting make this a strong first episode for the series. Fans of the show will greet this as something that feels familiar to fans whilst not drifting to far away from the HBO show itself.