Season 5 of HBO’s Game Of Thrones is still months away – an April launch date, as usual, seems likely – but once again Telltale Games have released something that might soothe the long wait between seasons. The first episode of Game Of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series has just been released, but is it more of a Oberyn Martell or a Theon Greyjoy?
Right off the bat: If you’re a fan of the TV series, you should be playing this, whether you’re a gamer or not. Telltale’s model of gaming has evolved in such a way that it’s easy for even novice gamers to get going quickly, and you’ll feel like you’re in the midst of an actual episode of the the hit HBO series. From the huge shocker just a few minutes in, to the amazing credits sequence (cue squeeing, if you’re the sort) to the cliffhanger ending and all the political machinations in between – not to mention the blood and gore – there’s just a whole lot here for fans to enjoy.
But you won’t be treading familiar ground here – you won’t be in control of, say, Jon Snow, as he traipses around the wall. Here a smaller house takes centre-stage: House Forresters, loyal Stark bannermen caught in the aftermath of Ned Stark’s death. In true GoT spirit you aren’t just one character – the point of view jumps from character to character, all involved with the Forresters in some way. The Forresters control most of the precious ironwood, but their jealous neighbours, the Whitehills, have an eye on those lands – and the Whitehills have House Bolton backing them.
All this also means that even with a new family in the mix, you’re not too far from the main events you’ve witnessed in the TV series. Some of your favourites from the TV series also appear here – a first for Telltale, as while the (fantastic) The Walking Dead games did feature Glenn, he wasn’t voiced by Stephen Yuen. This time, the actual actors are back to voice their own, with Lena Heady (Cersei Lannister), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Snow) and Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell) all making their appearance. They’re not the main stars of this storyline, of course, but they do help add some star power to the tale.
(And yes – Peter Dinklage puts in a much better performance compared to what he did for Destiny.)
And like what one would expect from a Telltale X HBO collaboration, there’re a lot of impossible choices made with the threat of violence hanging over you. Telltale Games have made the task of deciding between options a most involving and dire one, and here it’s back in its delicious glory. Most games might make you give up when you’re left with nothing to choose from, but here the writing actually drags you into wanting to make those choices – even if it means risking your character’s life.
So what you’re getting is some interactive TV series-quality fun – except without the rampant nudity, which I’m ok with. But if there’s a flaw, it is that the game sags in the middle when you spend time as Mira Forrester. Palace intrigue is fun and all – especially with the Lannisters nearby – but mixing it up with other sequences might have made it snappier. Nonetheless, this is exactly how you do a game adaptation of a hit TV series without being enslaved to it – and even while you’re not playing as your most beloved Game Of Thrones characters, the quality of writing and the vibe of the whole adventure makes it a worth addition to the Game Of Thrones epic. George RR Martin would be proud (and he did say he was excited).
So yes, Game Of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series is an Oberyn Martell, and we would all like more please.