Thursday, December 18, 2014

Telltale's Game of Thrones Episode 1 Review

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I have become a big fan of Telltale's interactive story format, but this is the first time they have made a game in a franchise that I am already invested in. And it makes a world of difference. Even though Game of Thrones tells the story of a relatively minor house that has not appeared directly in the books or television show, I am already well acquainted with other characters and the politics of the world. This gives me a framework from which to base my interactions with these characters. Even if you are new to the series, they do a good job introducing characters with really obvious clues about their true nature. But really, you should read the books up through A Storm of Swords or watch the show up through Season 3. Speaking of which, they have all the same actors voicing their characters from the show.
Now let's talk about the characters they have created specifically for the game. House Forrester seems to have been written very similarly to House Stark. They are from the north, they are honorable, and their members have been flung all over the world. It is obvious why they did this: everyone likes the Starks, and Telltale wants the player to like the people they are playing as. I'm a little disappointed that they couldn't find a better way to do that than to follow an established formula. Much like in the books, there are multiple characters whom the player controls. This is where having the characters flung across the world comes into play. As in the books or the show, there are quite a few characters to keep track of, so I recommend going into the game's codex before you start playing so you aren't totally lost.
While reading A Song of Ice and Fire, I had gotten so used to George RR Martin's tendency to pull the rug out from under the reader that I could predict when bad things or good things would happen. Thankfully the writers at Telltale didn't follow that formula, so I was legitimately surprised a few times throughout the episode.

The art style is gorgeous to behold. I was expecting it to be cel-shaded like their last four games, but instead everything looks as if it could be straight out of an oil painting. Objects in the background become slightly blurred, and characters' faces have a curious texture. The border between foreground and background objects had a strange shimmer where the blurring ended, which was a little distracting. But does it look good in screenshots or what? By far Game of Thrones is the best looking Telltale game to date.

The gameplay has moved farther away from puzzles and action sequences than even The Wolf Among Us. Carefully choosing dialogue options is the only meaningful action the player makes. If you do the wrong thing during one of the few action sequences, it is simply game over. It is quite difficult to fail that way, but I giggled at the game over screen.
I don't remember caring this much about the characters' lives I am affecting, even in The Walking Dead. I was so conflicted during dialogue that I sometimes let the time run out accidentally. If Telltale can keep up this level of quality, Game of Thrones will easily be my favorite game of theirs, and probably my favorite game of 2015. Iron from Ice!