Warning: Spoilers for the entire Game of Thrones series ahead.
If you’re like me, you probably downloaded the Telltale Game of Thrones series because you were content-starved while waiting for the next season of the show to begin. I love Game of Thrones. I love the drama, the lore, the betrayals, the failures, and the triumphs. Unfortunately, Telltale’s Game of Thrones focuses more on the failures of a certain house than anything else, and it really detracts from an otherwise beautifully built world.
Telltale’s Game of Thrones focuses on the Forrester family, a minor house in the North that pledges fealty to the Starks of Winterfell, who unfortunately find pretty much everything in their lives crumble to shit at the same time as the Starks did. The night of the Red Wedding. You’ll follow the perspectives of several characters related to the Forresters, including Mira – an aspiring handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell at King’s Landing, Gared Tuttle, a cousin of House Forrester who recently takes the Black, and Asher, the badass exiled son of House Forrester living as a mercenary across the Narrow Sea.
All of this sounds awesome, right? Well – don’t get too excited – because no matter how many quick time events you succeed at flawlessly, or how many conversations you think are going well, there’s a good chance that the next scene that follows will result in proving you completely wrong. Those who know George R.R. Martin’s work will know that happiness is futile already, and Telltale Games absolutely makes you feel that vibe as you trudge through the systematic collapse of the Forrester family. I don’t know how involved Martin was in the writing of this game, but he’d be proud.
As far as the gameplay goes, its what you’d expect from other Telltale titles. The dialogue is extremely well-written, and mostly voiced by actual characters from the show. If you closed your eyes, you’d be able to picture every scene in live action. The ‘painterly’ style that Telltale employs kind of detracts from the dead-serious tone of Game of Thrones for me, as some of the more brutal deaths are cushioned by the cartoony looks on everyones faces. I did experience some intermittent lag and screen tearing on the Xbox One, but it wasn’t enough to ruin the experience or flow of the game.
The storytelling is tight, the dialogue is show-worthy, and the heartbreak is what you’d expect from Game of Thrones. The one thing that sets Game of Thrones apart from its Telltale counterpart is that at some point in each episode, there’s something to look forward to. Telltale went a little heavy-handed on the hopelessness here, however, and the ending leaves a lot to be desired in terms of generating excitement for the following season. Victory is futile, and so is your happiness. You will feel no satisfaction or hope in the end of Telltale’s Game of Thrones, and to be completely honest I was most relieved when the credits rolled because I didn’t know how much more torture of the poor Forrester family I could bear to watch. Telltale’s Game of Thrones is worth playing if you’re a die-hard fan of the series or an ASOIAF lore junkie, but if you’re looking for a happy, gratifying ending – you may want to look elsewhere.
Final Score: 3 Beheadings out of 5.