[dropcap size=small]B[/dropcap]ased on HBO’s award-winning television drama, Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series tells the story of House Forrester, a noble house from the north of Westeros. Caught up in the events of The War of the Five Kings, they are placed in a precarious position where members of the household must do everything they can to prevent the house from meeting its doom. –TelltaleGames.com
If you are unfamiliar with Telltale Games, you may want to do a little research prior to picking this game up. I say this because like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones offers very little freedom for players to feel like they are in control of playable characters. The majority of Telltale’s titles are filled with cutscenes, cinematics, back story, in addition to being packed tightly with emotion. Iron From Ice is no exception. Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice is an expansion on the HBO series, showing us new characters who were behind the scenes dealing with the death of the Starks, the rise of Joffrey Baratheon, and the cruelties of Ramsay Snow.
“The majority of Telltale’s titles are filled with cutscenes, cinematics, back story, in addition to being packed tightly with emotion. Iron From Ice is no exception.”
Lord Forrester looks a lot like Ned Stark, so you know he dies.
Very early on, fans of the literary series along with those who have watched the acclaimed HBO series, are introduced to a familiar setting: the outer gates of House Frey, The Green Fork, during the events that transpire into the Red Wedding, one of the most depressing and emotionally catastrophic events in cinematic history. Dont believe me? Then you have not seen it.
During these horrible events, we are introduced to Gared Tuttle, a young lad and squire to Lord Forrester who desperately wants to become something more in life. Gared recognizes the danger he and his companions are in and attempts to warn Lord Forrester of the impending danger. After the slaughter of many of Lord Forrester’s men, Gared is instructed to deliver a message to his uncle Duncan, back at House Forrester. Along the way, Gared stops off at his home, where he witnesses the killing of his family by men associated to Roose Bolton, the newly titled Warden of the North. Gared fights through and barely makes it out alive, killing some of Bolton’s men, much to the later dismay of Gared’s uncle Duncan. As punishment, and a way to avoid being killed by Bolton, or worse tortured by his bastard, Ramsay Snow, Gared is sent to the wall to avoid causing more of a stir among House Bolton.
Gared is young, brave, and likely to die horribly. Or he will live. Who knows with this series…
Upon hearing the death of Lord Forrester, his third youngest son of four, Ethan is appointed Lord of House Forrester. Clearly too young and inexperienced to handle the pressures of being a Lord, Ethan is immediately tasked with two difficult decisions; appoint a new Sentinel to House Forrester (basically like right-hand adviser), and deal with Ramsay Snow.
Ethan is young, brave, inexperienced, and… well, also likely to die horribly. Seriously, what is with this series? I can’t handle this. I just can’t. But he might live? UGH.
A role of honor and respect, the Sentinel is sought after by two: Gared’s uncle Duncan, who sent Gared to the wall without consulting Lord Ethan, and the short-tempered Royland Degore. Duncan is put in hot water when Ethan finds out he sent Gared to the wall without discussing it with Lord Ethan first, which weighs heavily on the decision of who will be Sentinel. On the other side of the coin, Royland is wanting to confront Ramsay Snow head on, despite being out-manned, out-matched, and unlikely to stand a chance. This along with Duncan’s pleas for dimplomacy, claiming there would be no way to survive an attack from Ramsay, should they choose to fight.
Though the outcome of choosing Duncan over Royland is unknown (we chose Royland), the other choices that follow lead to the typical HOLY SH*T moment, fans have come to expect but not really expect from Game of Thrones.
Back in King’s Landing, Ethan’s older sister Mira is acting handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell, who is days away from marrying King Joffrey (Purple Wedding, that little sh*t). Mira pleads with Margaery to use her influence and attempt to sway the King into protecting her family, and secure the lives of those back at House Forrester. Margaery reluctantly agrees, but is easily shot down by Joffrey, who claims the Forrester’s are traitors and deserve what is coming to them.
Meanwhile, Cersei Lannister shares her son’s sentiments, and demands an apology from Mira, on behalf of her family’s treason against the crown. Tyrion, entertaining himself with the angers of his sister, tries to reason with her by claiming it is not Mira’s fault, and has been with Margaery the entire time and could not possibly be to blame. Mira apologizes anyway, to avoid any further conflict, though Tyrion pulls her aside after Cersei leaves the room and offers aid to Mira.
Mira is young, desperate and… a girl. So she will likely be fine. Or maybe she won’t? Ugh, forget this. I give up.
Iron From Ice is a great filler for those who have not read the books and cant wait for the next season on HBO. Seeing how far the impact of the decisions from the Starks and Baratheons go, and the Houses they affect is interesting and entertaining. Though I will admit that I was first disappointed in the way the game handles itself by not allowing me to explore freely or move beyond a straight line, I quickly forgot about my gamer woes and remembered how fantastic a job Telltale does with story-telling. Just like the show, I was on the edge of my seat for the couple hours it took for me to complete Episode I. Though I would love to see an open-world sandbox of the GoT universe, this game does well in other ways by keeping the player focused on what matters; the story.
My emotions were constantly being played with, like a cat and a ball of yarn, being reminded of how painful it was to revisit the events of the Red Wedding, and the ending of Episode I will likely cause more suffering to the player and or audience in the room. Which brings me to another important point; make your friends/family watch you play. The game is literally like an episode of the show, only taking as long to complete as you contemplate what to do next. The story really is worth watching and playing out, so keep that in mind before you complain about not being able to kill chickens or attack citizens at will, but in no way should you not play this game. If you are a fan of the source material, and if you enjoy Telltale Games’ titles like the Walking Dead, then this game is for you.
Developed and published by Telltale Games and distributed by HBO, Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice Episode 1 is currently available for PS4 and PS3 for $4.99 and $24.99 for the season pass, and will soon be released for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android.