Over the past year I’ve reviewed each episode of Telltale’s Game of Thrones and it has been an interesting journey to say the least. So I thought I’d provide a basic recap of each episode with a link to that review and follow that with my overall thoughts on a season that didn’t reach the heights it should have .
Nearly a year ago, the first episode of Telltale’s Game of Thrones nailed the devious, deplorable land of Westeros and beyond perfectly and seemed sure to set up another potentially fantastic series for the makers of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us.
Then the second episode fumbled with the concept, and saw the cast of playable characters at its weakest as good ones either died or deteriorated while the bad were still just plain bad. Also featured a horrid accent that plagued the rest of my time with the season.
From the third episode on though, things improved as the plot threads all began to pull in the right direction, but those initial heights were not reached.
In episode four we saw Mira and Beshka grow into their personalities, with Mira managing it without much in the way of screentime. All the while the story trundled menacingly towards grim conclusions. We also got to see a different side to Daenerys Targaryen (not her best side either).
The penultimate episode of any season is often the most shockingly brutal in the Game of Thrones TV show, and in the game it was just as true as desperate plans to save Ironrath and the Forrester legacy began to unravel.
The season finale saw Mira become my favourite character and produced some rousing scenes, but in the end, it just didn’t satisfy as it should have.
Did the story succeed? And were the loose ends tied up? Well, despite the authentic levels of relentless grim brutality, it’s almost all a bit of a washout by the time the finale rolls around. Very little is resolved and new threads are tied to the remnants of the ones since sliced off. I still want to see where some of these threads will go, but not enough that I’m eagerly awaiting a second season. This series has been at its best when the decision-making comes into play simply because there are no guarantees of an agreeable outcome in Game of Thrones, but in the finale, too many ‘choices’ blatantly ignore your decision and plow on with whatever they had planned. The ones that truly impact what happens have already been and gone in the previous episodes, everything here feels like two ways of getting the same outcome, a common criticism of Telltale games in recent years, but with The Ice Dragon it rings especially true.
I can’t say too much about all my favourite characters without spoiling some of the early parts of the game for newcomers, but there are at least three, maybe four, memorable new additions to the Game of Thrones universe within these episodes. They sit among the best that Telltale have produced. I can say that Mira Forrester manages to impress the most, even if the story never focuses on her plight for long. She meets the interesting people, dallies in the war of words that poisons King’s Landing and shows ingenuity to overcome obstacle after obstacle. Hers is a journey I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. Beshka starts off as a fairly one-note rough and tough heroine, yet as the season progressed, more about her past arises and you get to see the vulnerable side of an otherwise strong warrior as well as her reasons for the code of honour she maintains. Then on the villainous side you have Lord Whitehill, a repellant, odious barrel of a man who rubs his connections and superior numbers in the face of the Forrester family from the first episode and is highly unlikeable for the right reasons (unlike his whingebag son).
His brash, northern bluster is a key component in motivating you to do everything you can to save the Forrester family name. You just want to reach through the screen and give him a kick, he antagonises that much. On the other end of the antagonisation spectrum is Gared Tuttle and his slow descent into a Jon Snow wannabe. He began the season as my favourite new character, by the end of it I wanted nothing more than for his story to just end. He gets all the fun of the Wall, interacting with Jon Snow himself, fights with White Walkers and discovers long lost secrets, yet this becomes more and more boring by season’s end. The most common problem in Game of Thrones is that it features some of the worst—no, the actual worst—voice acting choices Telltale has ever done, from inexplicable Australian accents to twins that warble on like the Swedish Chef from the muppets. It’s a blessing for the series that they never cross with any established cast members because the difference in quality would drive you mad. It’s a rare misstep for Telltale, not helped by a universe that already gives us a clear idea of what the people in it should sound like.
It wouldn’t be a Telltale review without mentioning those persistent technical issues, that seemed to be rife in the Telltale Tool until Tales from the Borderlands. They are heavily present here and take you out of key moments on too many occasions, what’s more shocking, a character’s death or a frame rate that defies logic by hitting minus figures? It gets harder and harder to accept these ‘quirks’ the longer they keep appearing in Telltale’s games. You have to hope that Tales from the Borderlands more stable offering is indicative of the future, otherwise this engine will need replacing a lot sooner.
These gripes take nothing away from the overall enjoyability of Game of Thrones. Now the season is over, my criticisms of the second episode are now rendered meaningless by virtue of their connection to the narrative that has taken place since, and viewed as a whole, it’s a pretty solid season filled with all the harsh, political butchery of the books and TV show and fans of either can glean a lot more mileage out of this than those who just enjoy Telltale’s games. In fact, it still stands out as the least accessible series for non-fans of a source yet. It implores you to know every machination of the TV show’s first four seasons to get anywhere with it. A shame, as it makes it harder to recommend than any TT series before it.