GAME REVIEW | A Tad Weak Winter Comes In Telltale's "Game of Thrones"
Telltale Games has done many adventure games in its time, and with The Walking Dead they had seemed to reach a level of consistency in regards to quality of the titles that followed it. But perhaps under the strain of doing three series in one year with relatively short wait times for each episode within, they have faltered a bit. Their rendition of Game of Thrones is still an enjoyable story, but the multiple storylines serve to weaken the narrative some of the time.
This latest adventure series is based on the hit HBO show, which in turn are based on George R.R. Martin's series of books called A Song of Ice and Fire. The first episode begins with a celebration that turns sour once a family called the Freys betray and slaughter the members of House Forrester. The lord's squire Gared manages to escape, but returns home to find his family slaughtered by a Bolton. Killing one of their men evokes there wrath, and to escape it, he is sent to The Wall to become a ranger.
Of course House Forrester now has to deal with the Boltons and Whitehills, who serve them but want their Ironwood resource. Meanwhile Mira Forrester tries to help the family from afar in King's Landing. Later on in the rest of the chapters, the exiled Forrester Asher seeks to bring home an army to defend their house from another far-off region.
The narrative for the most part is quite enjoyable, but the game feels like it has one storyline too many, which hurts the narrative a bit. The Mira sequences in particular are the largest offender. They just aren't particularly interesting or written well, and even from a storyline standpoint, they become pointless. Regardless of Mira's conclusion to her storyline, she is effectively removed from the series, and her contributions to Episode 1-6 are useless. Supposedly she was able to reduce the size of the Whitehills forces, but it doesn't matter in the end.
At least Gared and Asher's choices seem to matter in the game going into Season Two, but perhaps the fact that there's even going to be a second season is part of the problem. The game feels written specifically to carry on the story in the next season, rather than being definitive. It would have been preferable if Season Two dealt with a whole new set of characters, but it doesn't look like that will quite happen from where I was left at the end of Episode 6. At least Gared, Rodrick's, and Asher's storylines are well done.
The game is dark, gritty and violent much like the Game of Thrones series that inspired it. It's even literally dark, and even the highest level of brightness doesn't do much to fix some of the darker parts. Unlike The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Tales from the Borderlands the visual presentation has discarded the cell shading in favor of a more realistic rendering for character models. Backgrounds are drawn with a watercolor style, only going into rendered mode once it's a close up or within the general vicinity of the action.
There are a couple odd things with the game though. The default settings are rather low on the Steam version, needing to be manually set to something more acceptable. Its button prompts are also sometimes hard to gauge, as the game wants you to press and hold a button rather than just a press. Other times it wants you to wait to hit a button until the red circle overlays on the icon. The icons themselves are sometimes hard to see as well, and sometimes subtitles blend in with the background.
Game of Thrones also has a codex, but it's wasted potential as it only drops background info on the Forresters, but not any of the other characters. It's still a great experience, and when it hits those high notes, it really hits them. But the game could have done without Mira's storyline, or it could have been written better. I hope that Season Two fixes some of those issues and gets a better writing team, perhaps even allowing the player to hold a greater influence on the outcome.
The Good – Some sequences are pretty cool to witness.
The Bad – Too many storylines that ultimately don't lead to much of anywhere.
The Ugly – The Default screen resolution is way too small.
SUMMARY: Telltale's Game of Thrones is an enjoyable experience that's marred a bit by its multiple plot-lines, which don't have any decent resolution to the overarching story. It also has some odd interface issues that make some sequences hard to follow through on.
Steam Season Pass provided by Telltale Games