Nicholas DeBlasio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The end of March saw the release of Episode Three of Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series. Though fitted into the lore and events of the Game of Thrones television show, the game features an original story following the members of House Forrester. The Forresters are a family from the North and are loyal to the Starks, something that puts them in a dire situation as the events late in the third book (after the TV show’s third season) unfold. Given the challenging situations, fateful twists, and the ever-present threat of death, Telltale has done a superb job of translating the feel of the books and TV show into a game.
The player takes the reins as the various members of House Forrester: Gared Tuttle, squire to Lord Gregor Forrester; Ethan Forrester, the young lord of the house while his father and brothers are absent; and Mira Forrester, the eldest Forrester daughter, handmaiden to the future queen, Margaery Tyrell. Other characters are added as the series progresses, but risk of spoilers forbids their mention. Familiar NPCs from the television series make their appearances, all voiced by their live-action actors, including Peter Dinklage, Natalie Dormer, Lena Headey, Kit Harington, Iwan Rheon, and Emilia Clarke.
The game plays the same as Telltale’s other adaptations, as a point-and-click adventure, with the player selecting dialogue options and making key decisions that alter the story’s progression. Decisions are made on a timer, so there can be a lot of pressure on making the right choice. There’s rarely, if ever, a clear correct answer, and some decisions will be no-win situations, but you can’t tell what those are until you see their effects. The stream of fateful decisions and uncertain situations excellently channel the intensity of the Song of Ice and Fire world. It’s hard to go into too much detail without spoiling anything, but for a point-and-click game, there is never a lack of tension or gravity.
Episode One, “Iron From Ice,” does a good job of setting the scene for the rest of the series, both in terms of story and atmosphere. It wastes no time in getting to the action and forcing you to make tough choices. These choices don’t seem to have as much immediate impact, as the rest of the episode seems to keep itself on a single track, but that does not make the decisions any less tense or difficult to make. Most of the characters start out pretty transparent, and though it’s still early in the series, you can generally make out who can and can’t be trusted. However, by the end of the episode the game reminds you that this is, in fact, the dark, dangerous, and shocking world of Game of Thrones.
Episode Two, “The Lost Lords,” introduces more characters, including new PCs. Moreover, the events of the first episode will have you invested in the characters that have already been introduced, a fact that the game, in true Game of Thrones fashion, will exploit, as choices bear higher and higher risks. A single sentence can come to mean life or death. As the cast and plot become larger and more complicated, the previous notions of who can and can’t be trusted become a bit more blurred, adding to the story’s uncertainty.
As Episode Three, “The Sword in the Darkness,” comes about, the atmosphere just gets thicker and thicker. The NPCs that you try to impress become at odds with each other, meaning gaining one precious ally could cost you another. The aforementioned transparency of certain characters actually comes to add weight to your decisions, because when a grotesquely unlikeable and hostile character asks you to submit to them, you will have to decide between playing along to protect your family, or granting yourself the satisfaction and honor of defying them; as to which choice will actually bear fruit (if either), none can say.
Telltale certainly knows how to keep up interest from episode to episode, as with Episode One’s wicked twist, Episode Two’s melancholic and foreboding ending, and Episode Three’s last-minute introduction of Daenerys Targaryen, both a dangerous and promising omen for Episode Four.
Telltale has made a largely faithful and tantalizingly tense adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series. It forces you to choose between your honor and your life, except you can never be totally sure which path will lead to which.
Overall Score: 9/10