By Marty Mulrooney
Game of Thrones: Episode 1 – Iron from Ice is the opening instalment of a brand new six-part episodic adventure game series from Telltale Games, creators of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. Based on the award-winning HBO television series of the same name, Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series tells the previously untold story of House Forrester, whose members are caught up in The War of the Five Kings and must fight to stop their house meeting its untimely demise.
In this new episodic adventure, players will take control of five different members of House Forrester – though only three are revealed in the opening episode. The first is Lord Forrester’s squire Gared Tuttle, who is present during the aftermath of The Red Wedding and must fight against the Freys once all hell breaks loose. First impressions are mixed – there isn’t much time to get to know the characters before you’re making decisions that could quite literally seal their fates forever.
However, the almost unbearable tension which immediately begins to build is pitch perfect and horribly enjoyable. Viewers of the TV show will know something very bad is going to happen, but even newcomers will notice something shifty is going on within minutes of picking up the controller. Gared may only be a squire, but he’s loyal and resourceful. The gameplay mix is classic Telltale – conversation trees, decision-making and Quick Time Events – but the way they’re all expertly thrown at you during the opening moments does a far better job than a bog-standard tutorial ever could.
From there, the two-hour playtime is split between Gared, Ethan Forrester (Lord Forrester’s third-born son and next in line to become the new head of House Forrester) and Mira Forrester (Lord Forrester’s eldest daughter), who is currently serving as a handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell in King’s Landing. The way the game switches between these three characters works wonderfully – as previously mentioned the Telltale formula will be very familiar to fans of their most recent licensed games, yet in many ways this feels like the best fit yet. The result is an experience that feels fresh and decision-making moments where every choice feel like a double-edged sword ready to plunge through your chest.
The experience is very evocative of the television show and this is only strengthened by the involvement of many of the official cast members, including Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Snow. It adds a much-needed layer of authenticity, but perhaps the greatest compliment that can be paid to this opening episode is that the new characters and story are interesting enough to hold your attention without the appearance of a fan-favourite character necessarily being the highlight of the experience. In short, what Telltale Game has done so far works very well.
Game of Thrones: Episode 1 – Iron from Ice is a promising start to this new series from Telltale Games. It’s too early to tell whether this early promise will necessarily pan out (many decisions made here won’t pay off until later episodes) but in terms of capturing the spirit of the show, it’s a job well done. The graphics have an almost painted look that works to the strengths of the Telltale game engine (rather than trying to be photo realistic), the music and voice acting is superb and the time spent playing is never anything less than thoroughly engaging. The ending is a shocker that will make you want to immediately find out what happens next. Not a game changer then, but a bloody good time nonetheless.
8 OUT OF 10