The Game of Thrones series has been around for years. George R.R. Martin’s franchise began as a book, then a cable TV show on HBO entering its fifth season, and most recently a video game, which bombed harder than a dodongo. Thankfully, Telltale Games is now in the middle of releasing their next choose your own adventure games based on Game of Thrones, which is much better than the game from Cyanide Studios.
Whenever anyone thinks or talks about Game of Thrones, spoilers are nearly unavoidable. To even get into these games to avoid any, it’s highly recommended that you watch at least to the end of Season 3 and probably half way through Season 4. In Episode 1, you take control of three different characters from House Forrester. Each character is in a different place in the Westeros: one in King’s Landing, where the crowned King lives, one where the Forresters live, in Ironrath, and one in the Wall, home of The Night’s Watch. In Episode 2, you gain an additional character to take control of in Essos, the same continent where Denaris Targarian is running her campaign with her Dothraki soldiers. However across the two episodes, the majority of the story happens in the Westoros, where the Forrester family is on the brink of going to war after the events of the Season 3 finale of the Game of Thrones TV show. It’s up to you to make the choices needed to either avoid war or to prepare as best as you can.
This is a Telltale game, which is basically a point and click adventure with a controller or a mouse, which literally makes it a point and click adventure. You walk around, observe objects, pick up items, talk to people and make decisions. You repeat this process with the occasional quick timed events as you progress through the story. Many of your choices and things that you say will influence other character’s interactions and the game will make subtle changes as you continue through the game. It’s highly recommended that you play the games in order since your choices will carry over from the previous episode to the next. If you don’t then things may get a little confusing since the next episode will randomize any variables that may or may not have happened in the previous episode. Also, it’ll be for the sake of continuity as this is a six part series all planning to come together in the end.
You don’t really play a Telltale game for the gameplay, you play to get the main story. There is a little bit of walking around and no mini-puzzles that you’d see if you played The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us games from Telltale, but Game of Thrones offers multiple viewpoints that both games lacked. With an epic setting like Game of Thrones, it’s beneficial to keep the characters spread out so that you get a chance to see more of the world, as well as more of the characters from the show and the books. Not all of the action is in one place, as several characters are at odds with other characters all at once. Depending on your choices, it may be possible to work against yourself, too; while trying to have one of your characters appease another, you may sway events that affects another character under your control.
What Needed Improvement
This is a review of the PlayStation 3 version of the game. My own personal experiences with these games may not reflect what may happen if you play on another system or a PC. The graphics seemed to stutter as I played through the game. The characters didn’t look very great in some scenes and the backgrounds weren’t as great as they probably would have been if played on a next-gen console or an optimized PC. There were frequent problems with the audio, where spoken lines would either start partway, then restart in mid-sentence, cause an echo effect, or get skipped completely altogether. I also had issues with the game nearly freezing, even getting to a point where I waited almost three whole minutes watching the camera remain stuck on a character’s face before the game miraculously resumed just before I hit the reset button. My experience with Telltale Games’ previous releases told me to wait that long because they aren’t always optimized to perform well on a console. I often waited to see if the game would resume, staring at the screen for a solid two minutes before the game returned to normal.
This game was definitely meant to be played on newer devices like a PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or, ideally, a powerful PC. Episode 2 performed better than Episode 1 and does a better job of drawing you into the story. This leaves hope that as the later episodes come out, the game will run better, but the ideal way is to play the game on the newer systems.
While Episode 1 of Game of Thrones had a rough start for me graphically, the big events and the closing of the episode did make me want more from the story,especially as a Game of Thrones fan. Episode 2 was much better, introduced more characters and was picking up enough steam for me to ignore the bugs and near-crashes. If Telltale Games continues at this rate, then maybe the older console versions will perform better and tell better stories in future episodes. While I still recommend playing on PC or the newer consoles, you could still have a great time with the game on an older console if you’re willing to overlook the technical issues. If you definitely plan on getting every episode, the season pass is a good idea, since you essentially get an episode for free.