In the opening ten minutes of Game of Thrones, you will have born witness to an insurmountable number of deaths. This, combined with the medieval fantasy setting, lets you know that this is definitely a game based on the TV show, an extremely popular adaption of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series.
Also in the opening ten minutes, you will have met new characters who aren’t focused on in the TV show, chosen a handful of dialogue options, and made a couple of important choices. Throw in some slightly awkward animations and plenty of quick button pressing in action sequences, and this lets you know that this is definitely a Telltale game.
That’s Game of Thrones through-and-through: while Tales from the Borderlands did a bit more to differentiate itself from Telltale’s formula and not fall into similar trappings as The Walking Dead, this feels as though it’s not quite as much of a step forward, though definitely adapts to the universe well and does it justice.
Rather than just controlling one character – or two, as with Tales – Game of Thrones will feature five members of House Forrester over the series, a new set of characters in a familiar world. You’ll meet three of these in the first episode, the first being Gared Tuttle, a squire of Lord Forrester.
And then there are the Forresters themselves – Ethan and Mira, the former having just taken over as a young Lord and the latter serving Margaery Tyrell at King’s Landing. Ethan’s plotline may be the most exciting in the first episode, but his character leaves much to desire; to put it quite simply, he’s boring and you can’t quite relate with him.
In fact, it’s hard to relate to the fresh faces in the first two hours of this series, with the best performances coming from people reprising their roles, such as Peter Dinklage who seems at home as Tyrion Lannister, or Iwan Rheon who appears as the menacing Ramsay Snow of House Bolton.
As you’d expect, the narrative is very focused on politics and in a world where simply saying the wrong thing can cost you your life, the decisions you’ll make feel more important than ever. It’s this that’s the driving force of the game, and with a well-written script that suits – and adapts to – the world, Game of Thrones fans will find much enjoyment here. The same can’t be said for those new to the series, as much of the joy of visiting the world will be lost.
Action sequences are few and far between in this first episode, and when they do arrive they often underwhelm. It’s clear those aren’t the focus here, and anyone seeking out a great plot will love this title for what it is: another exploration of a deep world from a different angle, with plenty of characters you adore and new ones which you’ll grow to love.
Along with some voice acting which feels a bit off, the visuals can be a bit askew at times too; there’s an oil painting-esque filter over proceedings which, while it hits the mark at times, can be quite jarring as it shimmers as characters move past, and leaves parts of the environment looking as though they’re constantly moving.
Some backdrops can be really stunning, though. This is, for what it’s worth, the best looking Telltale game yet, and the epic scale of the fantasy series is shown quite well, with more realistic visuals on show than the aloof comic-book style of The Walking Dead.
The premiere episode in Telltale’s Game of Thrones series does a lot of things right. Certainly, it manages to capture the political overtones as well as the high fantasy setting of the series it is based on, and it does them justice, bringing in new characters and plots not adapted from the book series. That’s an achievement in itself, and while it doesn’t stray too much from Telltale’s formula, it adapts an excellent property to something which we’ve seen hit the mark time and time again.
Version tested: PS4