Game of Thrones – season 1: review

  • Format: PS4 (version reviewed), Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC, Mac, iOS, Android
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Telltale Games
  • Developer: Telltale Games
  • Players: 1
  • Site: www.telltalegames.com/gameofthrones/

Game of Thrones has grown to be a huge TV phenomenon, and with the sixth season of the show due on our screens in April, it’s the perfect time to see what Telltale Games can do with the series after they so successfully brought the Walking Dead to consoles. It seems like the perfect fit as both series have a great cast, and huge shocks are part of the appeal – with no character safe from being brutally killed off. Can Telltale replicate the successful formula once again?

Characters from the TV series are accurately modelled, although animation could be improved.

Game of Thrones kicks off at the time of the infamous Red Wedding. We won’t spoil the TV episode for those who have still to see it, but it is a huge turning point in the series, and sees a massive betrayal that has ramifications for the world of Westeros. You start off as a member of House Forrester, a noble family from the north of Westeros, who reside in Ironrath which stands at the edge of an ironwood forest called Wolfswood. Ironwood is as strong as iron, and the Forresters use these trees to craft shields and ships of a higher quality than other competing Houses. It is this wood that has helped House Forrester to flourish and grow in reputation. During the events of the Red Wedding, members of House Forrester are ambushed while they are part of Robb Stark’s army. From there things start to go horribly wrong for the Forresters, and it’s up to you as the player to take charge of several Forrester characters to try and save the House from extinction, and bring back some honour to Ironrath.

Rodrick is the first born of Gregor Forrester, the Lord of Ironrath, and both him and his father are ambushed during the events of the Red Wedding. Mira Forrester is a handmaiden to Lady Margaery in Kings Landing, and tries her hand at playing politics to help her family back in Ironrath. Asher Forrester starts the game as a mercenary in Essos, after being exiled from Westeros for having an affair with the daughter of Lord Whitehill, the arch enemy of the Forresters and the main villain of the game. Gared Tuttle is the former squire of Lord Gregor, who is banished to the Wall to join the Night’s Watch after killing several of Lord Whitehill’s soldiers. He’s secretly searching for the North Grove, which is a mythical place beyond the Wall that Lord Gregor asks Gared to protect.

Two rather unpleasant and nasty creatures, Ramsay Bolton and Lord Whitehill, are antagonists you’ll face during the game.

The characters are all well-realised and the voice cast do a great job of bringing the characters to life. Some of the TV series regulars make an appearance as well, with Tyrion and Cersei Lannister, Ramsay Bolton, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen all adding extra gravitas to the proceedings. The graphics aren’t great technically, but the ‘painterly’ look is nicely done, and the game looks like a moving oil painting. The characters’ faces are nicely caricatured, but the game engine could probably do with being overhauled to take advantage of the extra power the new consoles have, to better animate the character faces and give them more emotion. There are also, unfortunately, a lot of technical problems; and there were times when the engine lost whole segments of dialogue, with the character standing mute until another character started talking. There were also instances where characters walked around headless (quite apt for Game of Thrones!). These aren’t enough to ruin the game, but they are annoying, and quite unforgivable for a reasonably straightforward linear and narrative-led game.

Out of all the characters Mira Forrester has perhaps the most enjoyable section of the game, as she endures the machinations of Kings Landing to try and gain political advantage for House Forrester. With Cersei, Margaery and Tyrion to deal with, along with the threat of the Whitehills, hers is a journey fraught with dangerous decisions. The main villains of the story are Lord Whitehill, who is a vile and antagonistic barrel of a man, and his son Gryff who is a whinging and nasty piece of work. The story takes you to familiar parts of Westeros like the Wall, Meereen and Kings Landing, and introduces places like Ironrath and the North Grove. The significance of the North Grove is never uncovered, and there are quite a few plot threads that are left dangling and ready to be pulled in further seasons of the game, which makes for an unsatisfying finale.

The ‘painterly’ backdrops are quite nicely done.

The first season of Game of Thrones recreates the world of Westeros really well, with all the devious machinations and treachery at play, and some grisly moments. The nudity and sex is noticeably absent, but they don’t detract from the atmosphere the game creates. Technical problems mar the experience somewhat, and the finale seems to ignore your previous decisions to reach the endgame the designers had planned, which is a disappointment. Also a lot of plot threads are left hanging, which leaves the finale feeling like a bit of an anticlimax. But the characters, with Mira in particular, all have quite interesting story arcs, with some really tough choices to be made that can lead to a character’s demise. Much like the TV show, you think all is going well and then boom, it all starts falling apart and one of your characters gets bumped off. We really hope that season two builds on the foundations this first season has built, as it’s a good introduction to the world of Westeros. It just doesn’t quite reach the heights of the Red Wedding that kicks the season off.

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Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

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