If Game of Thrones – A Telltale Game Series has taught me one thing, it’s that I would be absolutely, incredibly, and instantly dead in King’s Landing. Because, much like I’m used to games where good and evil is easily defined, in Westeros even the “smart” and “safe” choices can have horrible, unforeseen consequences. So it’s a lot like the show.
The story takes place around the third season/Storm of Swords-era in the series, when the kingdom of Westeros is in turmoil. A civil war is about to end abruptly and badly for one side, and you’re on that side. You take on the role of several members of House Forrester, who find their father murdered, their army decimated, and your surviving family scattered. Your job is to help the family survive, but strength will not be enough. You’ll have to learn when to stand up for yourself, when to hold true to the values of your family, and when to put on a mask and please the greater powers. And in this game, every power is greater than you.
The controls follow those of the popular Telltale games like The Walking Dead and Back to the Future—it’s basically a point and click adventure where you walk around a location, collecting items and solving simple puzzles, occasional action sequences that require you to tap the right key at the right time, then interacting with other characters in dialogue trees. Those trees will lead to the choices that will have minor, rippling effects on what happens, and provide the primary drama in the game because while they don’t effect the endgame of the story, they challenge the player to consider what he wants to do in the situation. Do you lick the boot of your oppressor, knowing you can’t win? Do you forge a letter, betraying someone who trusts you? Do you ally with a shady faction that can help you, or with the person who is “good” but weak?
As it turns out, this is harder than it seems. Because in the world of Game of Thrones, the correct choice is often obscured by the other powers in play. If you’ve read the book or seen the show, you’ll know about the larger events in motion in the world. These do not concern you. You will not save Tyrion. You will not stop the Red Wedding. If anything, you should use this knowledge to think about who will survive to help you, and help your family. The game absolutely nails the moral ambiguity of the series, where noble intentions lead to death and the wicked are often rewarded, and all that matters is that you keep the people you love alive.
As it turns out, I’m nowhere near as politically savvy as I think. Most of my choices backfire on me, and I misread the best response to the situation I was in. When in the political viper pit of King’s Landing, I tried to show strength, and in the bloodbath of the east I tried to be diplomatic. And frankly, when dealing with the sociopaths put in charge of the North, I’m not sure there is a proper response.
If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll probably enjoy the game. I say “probably” not because it’s poorly made—it isn’t. The storytelling is spot on, and the voice acting, both from the main cast and the actors from the show, is great. The “probably” comes from the fact that you can’t “win” the Game of Thrones. You can only survive, and hope to keep those you love alive
Developer/Publisher: Telltale Games
Minimum Requirements: OS X v10.7.x, 2.3 Ghz Intel processor, 4GB RAM, 512 MB NVidia or ATI graphics card, 3GB hard disk space
Price: $29.99 (all 5 episodes)
Availability: GOG.com, Steam