Game Review | Game of Thrones | Season 1, Episode 1 | "Iron From Ice"
Episode Summary: At the Red Wedding, the Stark banner-man Lord Gregor Forrester and his heir Rodrik are killed by the Freys. Lord Forrester's last word to his squire, Gared, are that 'he must protect the North Grove'. (Wikipedia)
I’ve got to say that this is probably the worst of the Telltale games I’ve played and left me hoping that the later episodes can really pick things up. I say that as a huge fan of the Game of Thrones TV show (I haven’t read the books), and as this game is set in that continuity and apparently canon – although it obviously won’t affect the show – it’s disappointing just how… disappointing the episode can be.
To start with, I really don’t like the art style they’ve chosen for the game, which is trying to make everything look like a moving watercolour painting, but it just doesn’t work at all for me. Instead, the visuals just seem muddied, blurred and messy all the time.
The framing doesn’t really help either, with poorly-placed camera angles and the unrefined aesthetic meaning there aren’t any scenes at all that you’d be truly happy using as wallpaper on your PC, making the setting look cheaper than the TV show by quite a distance.
There are a couple of control mechanics which aren’t implemented terribly well, where you’re required to click and hold, then swipe in a direction, but only serves to interrupt fast-paced sequences and break immersion. Even simply reducing the time you have to hold down before you can swipe would improve these no end.
Add in the fact that this is the usual Game of Thrones misery fest and these frustrations just seem worse because there’s just about no laughs to be had or any real way to vent your anger. Again, just a minor change to allow even a minor, inconsequential victory would’ve really helped.
As usual, the game is pretty much pointing and clicking at things, interacting with various characters and objects, influencing events that will shape the story, although you get to control three different people, although explaining who they all are will take a bit more information than usual.
The game begins near the end of season three of the TV show, with the Stark troops and their allies at the Twins for the event that became known as the Red Wedding. For those who don’t know what that means, it was an event where pretty much all the ‘good’ guys were killed by the treacherous Walder Frey and Roose Bolton.
The first character you get to control is Gared, squire to Lord Forrester, and one of the few survivors of that event, with your Lord sending you away with the family sword to return to Ironrath, the Forrester home. Events conspire against Gared pretty quickly and he is soon sent to the Wall, where I presume he’ll become more important to the story-line as he pretty much vanishes forty-five minutes into this episode.
The next character you get to control is Ethan, Lord Forrester’s third-born son and the new Lord after the events of the Red Wedding. He ends up having to make a lot of hard choices for his very young age and I have to admit I was genuinely shocked with what happened to him at the end of the episode.
The last player character is Mira, Ethan’s older sister and handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell in King’s Landing, the capital city of Westeros. You don’t really get a great deal to do with her or any real influence, although with the amount of scheming shown in the city, I’m sure that will change in the future.
The one area I have to praise Game of Thrones is how close it feels to the series, with a lot of the main cast voicing their characters where needed and it really does help. The only problem is that their presence really reminds you how good the series and just how far the game has to go to match it.
"Iron From Ice" is a pretty uneven start to the season, but there are signs it could end up much better. This is definitely one of those games where there is something bad that cancels out something good rather than simply being mediocre.