The War of the Five Kings in Westeros made a volatile continent erupt into chaos. King Robert Baratheon’s death caused much turmoil and there wasn’t a single House in the Seven Kingdoms which wasn’t affected in one way or another.
Telltale Games’ latest endeavor, Game of Thrones, deals with one particular House: House Forrester. The Forresters have been bannermen of the North’s ruling House, The Starks, for centuries. With the death of Eddard Stark and his heir, Robb, there is no one who can protect the Forresters from their age long enemies, House Whitehill, or for that matter, the North’s new ruling House: House Bolton.
This episode begins at the infamous Red Wedding where Walder Frey and Roose Bolton betray Robb Stark and have him and all of his men killed. You start off as Gared Tuttle who is the squire to Lord Gregor Forrester, head of the Forrester House. You go about your squirely duties until all hell breaks loose and your companions are slaughtered around you. You manage to escape but not before Lord Forrester and his eldest son Roddrick are killed. This is just the intro and things only get worse from there.
Gared isn’t the only playable character. You also get to play as two of the younger Forresters: Ethan Forrester, who is now the defacto Lord of Ironrath (the Forrester’s ancestral home), and his sister Mira who is in King’s Landing serving as soon-to-be-Queen Margaery Tyrell’s handmaiden. Though the two are on opposite ends of Westeros, they share the goal of protecting their family against its enemies.
You have to make a lot of tough decisions during the course of the game and in true Game of Thrones fashion, all actions have consequences. No matter what you choose to do, someone will be displeased. The fact that you only have a limited time to make a choice makes things even more intense. The books and TV series do a fantastic job of making you feel tension but the game does so even more since you are in the middle of it all.
The most sweat inducing parts of this game were when I had to address Queen Cersei and Ramsay Snow, two characters who are just looking for a sign of weakness to exploit. I could practically feel both of them staring into my soul, looking at me like a hungry predator waiting for a chance to strike. Every dialogue choice I made with them never really seemed to benefited me as they found ways to turn things around to their favor. These two encounters were by far the highlight of the game and were excellently crafted.
The game ends with a shocking finale which doesn’t bode well for House Forrester. If this were a typical story I would expect some sort of victory for this House eventually but considering that this is Westeros, I don’t see any happy endings in the future for the Forresters. Bad for the Forresters but great for us as the audience.
This game, more so than The Walking Dead, is far more about the story than the action. There is a lot of action in the beginning with Gared at the Red Wedding and his return to Ironrath but for the most part it really is a dialogue focused title. There is nothing wrong with this as many of these parts were just as, if not more, intense than any battle in a video game.
I played this on a PlayStation 4 so it was easily the best looking Telltale Games title I’ve ever played. The game ran at a smooth 60 frames per second (or close to it). The smoothness is what stood out to me the most seeing as how every TT game I’ve played in the past has suffered stuttering issues. The texture quality was a bit all over the place though. In some places it would look great but in others it looked very low resolution. This is a problem that TT games usually have and unfortunately it’s only been marginally resolved.
I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical about this series when it was announced but this first episode has assuaged my concerns. This is the best possible way to present the Game of Thrones world in a video game. It captures all of the political infighting and tense situations from the books and TV series and really makes you feel the weight of your decisions. If this first episode is any indication then I think it’s safe to say that we’re in for one hell of a ride during the course of the next five episodes of this series.
This review is based on a digital copy of Game of Thrones: Episode 1 for the PlayStation 4 provided by Telltale Games.