Game of Thrones: A Telltale Series – Review
With a second season on the way Telltale Games has just concluded the first season of Game of Thrones, a companion to the HBO developed television series which is of course an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s acclaimed book series. Telltale Games have taken the reigns of this side-story that focusses on the Forrester house, a family that are only very briefly mentioned in the book series. Telltale looks to flesh out their narrative much further and the outcome of their work superbly ties into the events of the television series, though some rough edges hold it back from being amongst Telltale’s finest works.
The Forrester’s possess a very close, strong bond with the Stark house, but as the season picks up we thrust back to the scene of the famous Red Wedding from Season 3 of the television series. Following Gared Tuttle (a Squire to Gregor Forrester) the opening act of the series depicts the Red Wedding from a different perspective. As the Red Wedding attacks break out, and his Lord murdered Tuttle successfully finds a way to flee the scene, and reports the bad news to the remainder of the Forrester’s, as well as the news that more trouble is on the way with Ramsay Snow setting his sights on the Forrester’s home of Ironrath. The primary focus of the series is on the threat that lingers above Ironrath, though in this endeavour we’re taken to the some of the many corners of Westeros. We see Mirra Forrester, one of Margaery Tyrell’s handmaiden’s pull the strings she has to work some magic behind the scenes while Asher Forrester is embroiled in heated conflict with those who oppose Daenerys Targaryen. Both these characters, and their stories play a major part in the overall narrative, with their actions carrying massive ramifications for the arc of the narrative and of course those in Ironrath.
Gared on the other hand finds his tale taking him further and further from the conflict. Forced to leave Ironrath, Gared makes his way to The Wall which leads him on a path to the fabled ‘North Grove’. Few in Westeros know anything of the North Grove, some believe it is only a myth, but with little options in front of him, Gared begins to journey north of The Wall to attempt to uncover the mystery of the North Grove and in turn find something that can help him save Ironrath. The story of the Forrester’s crosses over with a number of key characters from the series, you’ll see cameos from the likes of Jon Tyrion and Cercei Lannister, and of course Ramsay Snow, but you’ll also get extended time with the likes of Margaery, Daenerys and Jon Snow. Given that this first season is set during in a period extending from the third to fifth seasons of the television series, it is most interesting to see how the story of the Forrester’s intertwines with the narratives of the big names of the television series, and how little things that we took for granted in the show may have in part been influenced by elements of what happened in the game.
There have been many concerns raised over the last couple years about how poorly the Telltale engine is aging, and while Game of Thrones’ watercolour paint aesthetic offsets some of their technical handicaps, the game also suffers from slowdown, appalling load-times and a handful of other blemishes. It really is a shame that despite being hampered for so long, and having received so much criticism over the years that Telltale is yet to have straightened out these issues. Artistically though the game excels; as I mentioned the watercolour styling masks the lack of raw power that the engine possesses, but those colours really pop off the screen, especially in some of the scenes that follow Asher and Daenerys where the yellows of the sands make for a wonderful backdrop to the action that takes centre stage.
We’re grown pretty used to a five episode arc in a Telltale series, but Game of Thrones extends itself into a sixth episode. With each episode lasting anywhere between 1.5-2.5 hours there’s plenty here to consume, with very little feeling like filler, giving us more to enjoy. The series channels many of the troupes of the television series with some epic cliffhangers, dark themes and moments of confronting violence, but with minimal links to the overall struggle that the world finds itself in, it’s harder to feel completely immersed in the plights of the Forrester house. For as well voiced the characters are, for as well written as the story is, the same level of consequence isn’t present. You’ll get a lot from witnessing how the stories intertwine, you’ll love the cast, and you’ll love the art – it’s more of the Game of Thrones that you love, with the intense decision making, immediate consequence and technical flaws that only a Telltale game can deliver.