Sunday, December 27, 2015
Telltale Game of Thrones Season One: Death, Heartbreak, and Tragedy in typical GOT style
In each of these games, you play in the point of view (POV) of one or more of the characters. Telltale has capitalized on popular shows and movies such as The Walking Dead, Back to the Future, and now Game of Thrones to entice players. I've already played and loved both TWD Season 1 and 2 and Back to the Future, and Game of Thrones has been engrossing and faithful to the world of GOT.
I'll say up front that I have never read any of the GOT books and probably never will, and have watched the show only because my husband really likes it. But all that time watching the show pays off here. You don't need to have seen any episodes to enjoy the game, but it definitely enhances the experience as you get to interact with familiar GOT characters including Jon Snow, Margaery Tyrell, Tyrion Lannister, Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen and the gleefully sinister Ramsay Snow. The actors from the show do the voice acting for these characters in the game, lending their authenticity to the story. One issue some people have had with this is that you can't control the fate of these major players from GOT, particularly the repulsive Ramsay. I disagreed with these comments and thought this inclusion was a nice connection to the show, giving fans some familiar faces (and voices). And honestly, these characters aren't the focus of the game, just the icing on the cake.
The meat of the story focuses on the Forrester family, who is only referred to for a mere sentence in one of the GOT books. The Forresters initially have a lot of similarity to the Starks. The family is made up of Lord Gregor, Lady Elissa (who looks suspiciously like Lady Stark), oldest brother Rodrick (the level headed sensible one), Asher (the roguish "bad boy" younger brother who did everything wrong and left his family in shame, but oh, how we love him and his hilarious commentary, pictured here), Mira Forrester (the handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell and who must navigate the cunning players in the political world), and Gared Tuttle, squire to Lord Gregor, who has to travel to the Wall and try to fulfill a promise to Lord Gregor.
I won't say more because playing this without knowing anything going in just makes it that much more enjoyable. The gameplay is intriguing and engrossing; you play as each character, get to direct their decisions. For certain questions, you have 5 seconds to choose one of the four answers. How you answer determines how the other character sees you and can change the direction of the game. There are usually a few important decisions (like whether a major character chooses to kill another major character) that change the story dramatically, and how it plays out. There are other smaller decisions that affect future conversations, or who is present for them. One of the criticisms of this particular Telltale installment was how choices don't really change the future. While it's true that the overarching story doesn't change, there are major changes in who survives depending on your choices throughout the game, and how the scenes ultimately play out (some scenes are only shown if you have made specific choices). I actually played the entire game twice (no small feat, as each "episode" is 2-3 hours each and there are 6 episodes) in order to play the last half with a different set of characters. Let me tell you, it was worth it.
The other thing I think this game stayed completely true to was the feel of the world of GOT. Nothing is what it seems and, there are no right choices. No matter what, there are twists and turns and shocking deaths all over the place. If you are looking for an uplifting game, this isn't for you. But then again, you probably wouldn't like GOT either.
The major problem I had with this game was actually more technical; for whatever reason, it tended to freeze or unsync the action with the voices, or sometimes the voices cut out completely. Also, I know they tried to make the visuals look like watercolor, but it often just looked like bad graphics. Other games, especially the recent Tales of the Borderlands have much better graphics and ease with gameplay, but that said, I made my way through two of the 5 chapters of Borderlands and haven't played it again in months.
If you aren't a huge first person shooter gamer but enjoy playing video games that make you think, these games are perfect for you. If you are a huge GOT fan, this game is for you. If you loved Choose Your Own Adventure when you were a kid, this game is for you. If you want a happy ending, you should look elsewhere. I hope some of you think about trying it out. Let me know if you do, I'd love to hear about your experience!