Game of Thrones: Episode 1 Review

I can’t wait to see where Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series goes from here- it feels like the studio’s entire body of work has simply been preparation for this game.


Had someone tried to capture the world of Westeros in video game form ten years ago, the result would likely have been an action or real-time strategy title that completely missed the point. Anyone who’s read George RR Martin’s seminal series of novels or watched its HBO counterpart knows that the most interesting part of these stories lies in the characters’ interactions, and the long-term consequences they face for their actions. Since 2012’s The Walking Dead, Telltale Games has been building an empire on those exact principles, and it turns out they are a perfect match for the franchise. After playing the first episode, I can’t wait to see where Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series goes from here- it feels like the studio’s entire body of work has simply been preparation for this game.

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One of the playable characters, Gared, ends up in hot water pretty quickly.

The story begins right in the thick of the ‘War of the Five Kings,’ following a young and ambitious squire named Gared Tuttle. He serves the lord of House Forrester, a minor noble house that acts as the focal point for the game’s plot. When the lord is killed, Gared ends up in the center of a political fiasco between rival houses. Because the lord is gone, his young son Ethan takes his place and we follow him as he makes some pretty heavy decisions. In the capital city of King’s Landing, we also check in with Ethan’s sister Mira as she tries to convince some of the political heavy-hitters to help her family.

Being in the seat of power as a young boy is genuinely very interesting, as Ethan clearly doesn’t have the respect that his father commanded among his subjects. His closest advisers always try to show him courtesy, but it’s easy to see even their harbored resentment bubbling up at the first sign of defiance. Ultimately though, Ethan needs to make decisions that will directly affect the future of his House, and this is where the ‘adventure-nouveau’ mechanics from The Walking Dead feel so utterly appropriate. Because of the volatile nature of life in Westeros, we’ve seen Houses rise and fall in big ways, and I find it so exciting to be able to have an effect on House Forrester’s future.

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Iwan Rheon’s performance as Ramsay Snow is absolutely chilling.

As always with Telltale games, the characters express themselves beautifully, and everything is sold by excellent performances all around. Of particular note is Iwan Rheon reprising his series role as Ramsay Snow, who steals the show in some pitch-perfect, genuinely scary scenes. Graphically, there’s a sketchy effect that makes everything seem like it’s been rendered on parchment. Sometimes this is used to great effect, but in certain places it can just look weird. Most notably, the cross-hatched shading made Margaery Tyrell’s chest look like it was hairy. I’ve always taken issue with the micro-level ‘editing’ of Telltale’s dialogue scenes and this game is no exception, but it nails the overall feel of being in the HBO series’ universe so well that I didn’t mind.

It’s a waste of time to doubt Telltale Games at this point- since The Walking Dead I’ve been constantly surprised by their ability to craft an unlikely franchise into a compelling adventure game. In this first chapter of Game of Thrones, I not only felt like I was playing through an episode of the show- I felt like I was playing through one of the best episodes of the show. There’s certainly still room for improvement here, but for fans of the series this is a must-play.


Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series: Episode 1 / Telltale Games / December 2, 2014

This review was conducted on a retail Steam code provided by Telltale Games.

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