As a child of ye olde Choose Your Own Adventure books, I love the games produced by Telltale Games. The dialogue-based, weighted-decision style of gameplay is both stressful and delightfully appealing to me, and I loved The Wolf Among Us, of course. Naturally I was thrilled that there was a Game of Thrones Telltale series coming out, and the Fella and I sat down to play each episode together on Steam as they were released over the last year. If you’re a fan of the HBO tv series, the books by George R.R. Martin, or even if you just enjoy high stakes storytelling and plot twists, this game is rad.
The Game: Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series
The Developer: Telltale Games
Available On: Steam (Mac, PC), Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Android and iOS
Telltale’s “Game of Thrones” is a six-episode story arch set in Westeros. Although your favorite (and least favorite) characters from the HBO TV series make appearances throughout, you don’t get to play as Arya, Jon Snow, or Daenerys. This story is centered on House Forrester, the family that rules Ironrath in the north of Westeros. The Forresters provide the ironwood lumber to much of the kingdom and ought to be well respected and prominent but instead are floundering to stay relevant and secure in their place. In the game, you play as five members of the Forrester family, with the perspective jumping from chapter to chapter within each Episode of the game. These PCs are as follows: Rodrik Forrester, Mira Forrester, Ethan Forrester, Asher Forrester, and Gared Tuttle. Rodrik is the eldest son, Asher the second-born son who is currently seeking his fortunes as a mercenary in Essos. Mira is the eldest daughter, a handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell in treacherous King’s Landing. Ethan is one of the younger sons, twin to Talia, and Ryon is the youngest boy. Gared Tuttle is a squire to Lord Gregor Forrester.
The Forresters, having been loyal to House Stark, find themselves very much the underdogs in the aftermath of the War of the Five Kings – that is, the action of the game starts at the Red Wedding, and chaos ensues. House Bolton, the new Wardens of the North, team up with the Forresters’ douchey neighbors, House Whitehill, to wreak havoc and take over the ironwood forest.
Without revealing what else happens in the game, I can tell you that you see and explore the Wall, the fighting pits of Essos, the gardens and corridors of King’s Landing, and the majesty of Ironwrath. The beauty and danger of Westeros are alive and well in this game, as is the gut-wrenching fear that every decision you make is probably the wrong one. These six episodes run the gamut of the highs and lows of the show and books they’re inspired by, covering intrigue, politics, combat, and murder – even touching on the mysterious topic of magic at some point.
How To Play:
Game of Thrones is much like other Telltale Games series – you can move around in the world as in a point-and-click adventure and interact with your environment a bit, and have conversations with NPCs which undoubtedly have bearing on the outcome of later bits of the game. For example: if you have Mira lie to Cersei, Margaery will approve. But if you try to be honest with everyone, you will probably end up dead in a ditch, Mira, don’t you know anything about King’s Landing?! As anyone who watches the show knows, even the smallest things can cause a massive reaction, so be careful what you say and how you choose to handle the issues that arise. Choose your allegiances wisely, and know that no matter what you do, there’s always a worse option. (Although, to be honest, that realization didn’t exactly make me feel better about decision-making…)
There is a fair bit of fighting in this game, but the intrigue and dialogue is the primary function here. As with anything in the realm of Westeros (or Essos for that matter) this is a game about keeping yourself – and the ones you love – alive. Fans of Telltale’s The Walking Dead game will enjoy the parallels here, I think…
Cersei in the books and TV show says: “In the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
A more appropriate revision of that quote for this game might be: “In Telltale’s Game of Thrones, you die, or cause the death of your favorite sibling, or maybe your entire family hates you and you’ve dishonored the House for all time.”
A word of advice? Know going in that you cannot – nay, you will not win. Period. No one you play as will ‘win’ the game. It is six episodes of game hell. Beautifully crafted, excellently stressful game hell.
More advice? Whatever you do – do not think that this game will let you have closure or satisfaction over the characters you hate from the show. It absolutely will not. You will be sorely disappointed. Star Trek fans will understand when I say this whole game feels like a Kobayashi Maru.
But at the end of six episodes of awesome, stressful game play, the finale is epic – and there’ll be a season 2 at some point. We loved it, but there was definitely a lot of yelling and cursing.
Play at your own risk!