Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series (PC) Review

By Leo Epema 15.02.2016

Review for Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series on PC

Game of Thrones is a television series set in a medieval world, and is known for graphic violence and nudity, but primarily the way characters die if they make poor choices. Tact, cunning, respect, fear… the more characters play on the weaknesses and strengths of others, and develop their own skills, the more likely they are to survive. Even if they don't, there's a good chance their choices were meaningful in some way. Some of the characters are despicable, while others are respectable and/or likable, making their deaths fulfilling or a great shame. Can the same things be said of the game?

The story is interesting, focusing on house Forrester, who are subjects of the Starks. It starts with the squire to lord Forrester learning how to fight so that he can do his part to save house Forrester. The chain of episodes transitions from one family member to the next, as they try to not merely survive, but to extend their lives so that their choices save house Forrester. These choices are quite interesting, as they require appraisal of various enemies (such as house Bolton's bannermen) if events are to be manipulated well. Some of the conundrums are: should violence be used against the Boltons, as they often thrive in peaceful circumstances? Or should more tact be used, to ensure the Boltons don't strike fear into allied characters' hearts when they take revenge? The choices made as one family member can put the lives of the others in danger.

Although the choices can have dire and impressive emotional consequences, usually it is not clear just how dire; something needs to first go wrong in the following chapter to learn whether a decision was wise. Many times, the consequences are not known, rendering the choices arbitrary. In addition, it seems the choices don't affect the game's outcome: chapters, and even individual situations, almost always play out with the same consequences. Games are about finding one's own way of playing and manipulating situations to overcome challenges. However, there is no way to defeat adversity here-the result is always a loss. Games are also supposed to give feedback based on the choices, consequently creating more decisions in how to deal with the outcomes, while this game does not. It would be appreciated if there were ways to overcome difficulties, rather than making an empty choice of how to deal with them. Even if the final result is the same, at least it would be a game, rather than a movie with multiple selectable scenes. Some selections won't be reflected at all in subsequent events, making it a mystery why these options were ever part of the game—most obviously, when the game suggests that "character x will remember that," only for them to die soon after. Perhaps the Game of Thrones is not about winning but about playing well, regardless of whether it matters, but, even so, the game is lackluster.

Screenshot for Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series on PC

The characters don't alleviate this, as many of them are copies of the Starks. For instance, Gared Tuttle is a good, humble man who essentially lost his family like Jon Snow. Gared will now do anything for justice and for the honor of the Forresters. Rodrik Forrester is a Robb Stark clone, and his mother acts exactly like Catelyn Stark did, with the same protective mother theme. Since it's so similar to the show, it's rather unoriginal, slightly predictable, and dull. Not only that, but there is not much of a way to identify with or love the characters, because their stances are determined by the player. They have little personality and barely explain their motivations, which makes it hard to care about their fate. It worked in the show (to a small degree), but it doesn't work here.

While the characters are dull, their acting certainly isn't. They normally sound genuinely horrified by deaths, and their vocal tones often differ from one scene to the next, even when conveying the same emotion. It's good because it reflects the emotional charge of the scene, not just the emotion itself. That said, there are a few scenes that don't reflect the gravity of the situation: when there are clues that a father is in danger, simple surprise is not the correct response. Another type of homogenous response is seen among the various character models and the way they emote: they all make the same faces; there are no individual quirks, tics, or anything else. However, this is not easy to spot, because of the wide range of emotions and emotional intensity found in the plot.

Indeed, Telltale Games knows how to make a captivating atmosphere, which is also reflected in the music that sounds as authentic as the song "The Rains of Castamere." It is accompanied by clear sound effects, which serve to increase tension. Nothing is ever out of proportion. Unfortunately, the visual style is a great detriment, as it makes Game of Thrones look like a Disney movie. It is simply too inoffensive and too smooth, and the way characters sometimes jerk around looks jarringly light-hearted for such a serious and almost horror-like game. This incongruity is compounded by how locales look like watercolour concept art, while characters look sharply defined and are heavier on the eyes. The only things that stand true throughout the game are the intros and the nicely conclusive endings of the chapters, which are done in true television show fashion.

Screenshot for Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

All in all, Telltale Games' Game of Thrones does not do well. Deciding how to play the game is impossible, because it's merely about reacting to events as they unfold. Frankly, the game is about creating one's own view of the playable characters. The most narrative impact a player can have is preventing one family member from getting killed, but, considering the game's tendencies, it wouldn't be surprising if that choice was for naught, too. Deciding what damage to do to a character is fun. Strategically weighing options is fun, too, but it's nothing but smoke and mirrors. It's not about what legacy will be left behind; it's about deciding which oh-so-funny "silly face" to make on social media before the planet explodes.

Developer

Telltale

Publisher

Telltale

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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