If there’s one thing Telltale Games like to do, it’s telling a good tale. They’ve got the experience from games based on The Walking Dead and The Wolf Amongst Us, so let’s see what happens when they’re given free reign of one of HBO’s most popular shows, Game of Thrones.
If you’ve never had experience with a Telltale Game of this type, the premise usually revolves around a more advanced, refined and interactive point and click adventure, with the main focuses being on the narrative and how you can affect it due to player made choices. Giving the player difficult decisions that drastically alter the progression of the game is a feature much touted by other games, but here, they feel significantly more substantial.
Due to the game adopting an episodic approach; obviously aping the show it’s based upon, you’ll be jumping between individuals several times over the course of the chapter. Focusing on a new set of characters that are tied to House Forrester, Iron From Ice takes place towards the end of the third season and focuses on their relationship to House Stark. Whilst you begin as Gared Tuttle, a simple squire to Lord Forrester, things quickly take a predictable turn after a spot of encouraging promotional news; it’s not long before you start making a few important decisions to set off the end of the prologue.
Once the familiar theme and corresponding set of opening credits are over, the game opens up in typical Game of Thrones fashion, namely reams of conversation. Those who’ve enjoyed the previous games’ ability to explore around may be a little disappointed, but the majority of the conversational options often more than make up for that. Alongside the new set of characters with their surprising amount of depth, you’ll also run into a couple of the more infamous characters from the show, the ever stimulating Tyrion Lannister and the (ice) Queen Cersei. Both have a reasonable amount of dialogue and represent themselves suitably well, especially in the interactive scenes that involve them.
Alongside the quantities of conversation you’ll participate in, there are also a few smaller sections, much akin to the notorious quick time events of old. Thankfully these are few and far between and only really occur when necessary at the more action packed beginning of the game. As ever in a Telltale game, choices, and their immediate subsequent consequences are rife. You’re never going to be able to please everyone in a situation; plus the added time limit to prepare a response injects a panicky, ‘on the spot’ feeling to proceedings. A helpful indicator, especially at the start when you’re not entirely sure what each person wishes to hear, is presented in the upper corner of the screen notifying you on when you’ve made a significant decision. By the time you’ve completed just this first chapter alone, you’ll have dramatically altered people’s perception of you; making the mind boggle at the potential extent of all those seemingly minor choices stacking up and coming back to haunt you.
Whilst some of the narratives’ segments can seem a little slow or relatively less interesting than others, it’s safe to say, that they’re linked exquisitely to one another as the story progresses. Introducing each character takes just the right amount of time to become invested in their plight and you never seem to linger for too long in any scenario. It’s honestly as well paced as the source material, complete with tense, spiralling situations of which the show’s famous for.
Presentation wise, it will be nothing unexpected if you’re partial to the developer’s latest releases, which is not to say it’s unremarkable. Far from it in fact, Iron From Ice looks great with its stylised visuals. Action oriented scenes seem to lose a little magic but they’re rare and it doesn’t detract from the experience. The voice work is strong, as is also the script, but I suppose that’s to be expected of a franchise of this degree, still it’s nice to hear good voice acting and official music being used throughout.
As ever, so long as you’re vested into the source material, playing a Telltale game dedicated to it will often greatly appeal to you. There’s a potential worry surrounding the franchises staleness and a lack of moving forward with the mechanics and originality, but so long as they keep delivering great interactive stories based on established series, then fans will likely follow suit. It could be interesting to see a game set in their own universe, but it might require a considerable amount more effort; as for now, we’ll have to settle with the frustrating wait for the next ‘episode’ in the series.