Our Nation’s Review of Telltale’s Game of Thrones Episode 1: “Iron from Ice”

Developer: Telltale Games
Producer: Telltale Games
Release Date: December 2nd, 2014
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, iOS (App Store)
Reviewed On: Xbox One (Review Copy Provided by Telltale Games)
Cost: $4.99 (Episode), $29.99 (Season Pass)

This review is meant to be spoiler-free; however, due to the narrative nature of Telltale Games, some of the information provided below may be considered spoilers by some. Certain details about characters, settings, and other narrative based details may be disclosed,but no significant plot points will be spoiled.

A copy of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

The Game of Thrones universe, for the uninitiated, is a complex web of social and political intrigue, hamstrung by an inability to maintain any sort of consistent geopolitical structure for an extended period of time. For those of you already familiar with Westeros and the constant battle for the Iron Throne, “Iron from Ice” is a welcome expansion to the already intricate world George R.R. Martin has created in the television show and the series of novels, A Song of Ice and Fire. In Telltale’s Game of Thrones Episode 1: “Iron from Ice”, you play as an array of characters from the House Forrester, both direct members of the family as well as those in service to the house.

The first episode begins at one of the most iconic moments of the television show, unabashedly throwing the player into one of the defining moments of the series. For players unfamiliar with the show, opening with this scene serves a number of purposes: it sets the stage for the world they have just entered and clearly draws a line in the sand for your characters to stand in this world. As someone who is current on the show, I believe this scene builds the foundation for Telltale’s direction in the six part series. While some may say that beginning the game near the end of the television show’s third season is confusing for those not familiar with the source material, I feel that Telltale’s bold decision helps to quickly set the proper tone for the story they want to tell.

The first character that players are introduced to is not a direct member of the Forrester lineage. Gared Tuttle, Squire to Lord Forrester, is a well-regarded young man who has established himself as a trusted servant to House Forrester. Throughout the game players are introduced to a number of other new characters such Ethan, Mira, other members of House Forrester, and some of the prominent characters from the show.

Figure reprising their roles from HBO’s cultural phenomenon include Tyrion Lannister (voiced by Peter Dinklage), Cersei Lannister (voiced by Lena Headey), and Margery Tyrell (voiced by Natalie Dormer), as well as a few others I will let you encounter on your own. In games with branching story arcs, it can be difficult to fully capture the perfect line for every choice the player comes across in the dialogue tree. While not every line is as expertly delivered as on the show, I enjoyed the voice acting and was glad to see returning characters voiced by their respective actors.

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Gameplay

For those familiar with Telltale and their long running line of adventure games, “Iron from Ice” will be a seamless transition into the Game of Thrones universe. Their gameplay style has grown over the years, learning from and improving on the system utilized in previous titles such as Sam & Max and Back to the Future. In this title, the gameplay mechanics feel even more fluid than they did in seasons 1 & 2 of Telltale’s The Walking Dead.

Components of the story change based on characters’ decisions throughout the game. Such decisions have grave implications and often their effects are much more far-reaching than one would initially assume. Just as in the other versions of Game of Thrones, it is safe to say that there is no right answer to many of the difficult scenarios laid before the characters. A choice made to save one life or put a specific character into a position of power can mean drastic changes in the way the story plays out. As we have learned in Telltale’s many other franchises, early decisions can produce consequences many chapters into the game.

Telltale's Game of Thrones

Story

One of the main reasons we play Telltale games are for their ability to craft a breathtaking story — albeit heartbreaking at times. “Iron from Ice” is no exception, and while we are only 1/6th of the way through the journey, the story has already gone to places I felt it wouldn’t reach until at least a few episodes in. Telltale wastes no time diving into the world and making the player feel helpless across a number of different scenarios.

The thing I appreciated most about this game was how much it captures the essence of Game of Thrones. As a longtime fan of the series, I was worried that the universe may not translate easily into a game (as we have learned previously). Telltale is so good at creating something special from licensed properties, keeping true to the source material while also making the stories uniquely their own — “Iron from Ice” is no different.

Pros:

  • Perfectly fuses the Telltale style of games with the established Game of Thrones universe.
  • Superb writing that feels genuine to the world of Game of Thrones.
  • Well executed voice acting that helps immerse fans of the television show.
  • Dynamic choices that allow players to experience the game in a number of ways.

Cons:

  • For those new to Game of Thrones, the experience may not be as enjoyable as those already familiar with the expansive world.
  • Players must wait 4-6 weeks to find out what happens next.

The Verdict

If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, you won’t be disappointed by Telltale’s take on the series — “Iron from Ice” is a must play. For Telltale fans, this is also a must play, even for those not fully up to date with the television show. The world may be confusing at times when seen through the inner-workings of the different houses vying for power, but the game can still be enjoyed by those not up to date.

To be fair, players with at least some familiarity with the franchise will likely get more out of the game than those new to the franchise. As a fan, I am excited to see the journey that Telltale takes House Forrester on in subsequent episodes. There is still much to be told and, in true Game of Thrones fashion, many moves to be made.

You can find “Iron from Ice” on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and the iOS store now, as well as on the PS3 beginning December 9th.

Be on the lookout for episode 2 in Telltale’s Game of Thrones to be released in the next 4-6 weeks.

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Sean Winnett
Written by
Sean Winnett is a Marketing and Public Relations professional based in Boise, Idaho. He is also a video game journalist covering everything from gaming industry news to video game reviews and eSporting coverage. He received his degree in Mass Communication & Journalism from Boise State University in 2010, and has spent time working for some of the largest Marketing, Advertising & PR agencies in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to gaming, Sean is a diehard fan of College Football and spends his free time playing guitar, acting as the commissioner of a college football fantasy league and keeping up with his favorite TV shows (Doctor Who, The League, & The Walking Dead).

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