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Game of Thrones Episode 1 Review

Game of Thrones Episode 1 Review

Just like the show, this portion ended on a cliffhanger. Now I can’t wait to see what happens next.


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Telltale Games’ newest offering, Game of Thrones, which is based on the HBO show that is itself based on George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire, succeeds in capturing the spirit of the show while adding another successful installment to the company’s lineup of plotty, decision-oriented adventure games. If you’ve played another Telltale game like The Walking Dead or Tales From the Borderlands there isn’t much new to see here in terms of gameplay or structure, but the story is, as usual, top-notch.

The Story

The episodic game series centers around the Forresters, a noble family from the Thrones universe whose lives intersect tangentially with some of the TV show’s main characters. The Forresters, once loyal to House Stark and the North, have their allegiances tested when new families come to power and challenge their ownership of Ironrath and the surrounding Ironwood trees that provide their livelihood. In the first episode, you’ll play as three characters from the clan; two are direct descendants of the house, and the other is a loyal squire to the family. Though the Forresters don’t appear directly in the TV show, they exist in the world of the books and their stories wrap around those of the larger world and the power players fighting for control of the Iron Throne.

I was impressed with how clearly the mood and attitude of the HBO program translated to the game. Each section alternates between different plotlines and playable characters, giving a sense of the wider scope of political action occurring in Westeros, but it also allows for us as viewers to consider smaller lives that the show just doesn’t have time to focus on. One of the game’s playable characters, a squire named Gared Tuttle, is the son of a pig farmer who’s worked hard to rise through the ranks to a position well above his station. Given the complexity and sheer number of stories of powerful leaders in the books and show, a close examination on how a regular citizen like Gared interprets their country’s state of chaos is largely absent, but the game is an excellent playground for such musings. However, fan favorites aren’t missing here—popular characters like Tyrion Lannister (voiced here, as onscreen, by the brilliant and nuanced Peter Dinklage) crop up frequently and have an impact on the game’s outcome.

Overall, the story is surprising and engaging, though players who don’t have any exposure to the books or TV show will probably find it difficult to care about the branching family trees and alliances of Martin’s world. Purists of A Song of Ice and Fire series will probably find the level of detail insufficient, though if you’re the type of fan who only read three pages of the first book but never misses a Sunday night viewing of the show, you’ll probably love this new corner of the Game of Thrones world.


Like the other episodic games Telltale has produced so far, Game of Thrones has the feel of an interactive movie combined with a Choose Your Own Adventure book. If your gaming philosophy centers around the skilled mashing of buttons, there’s no way you’re going to enjoy this game. Long cutscenes are interrupted by sudden keystroke commands like “push left arrow key to clean human blood from longsword” or “push right to hold open a gaping leg wound while maggots are inserted into it,” and occasionally you’ll have to use your mouse to aim a weapon’s blow at an encroaching enemy (failure to do so usually leads to sudden death). But the level of skill is negligible so that even if you don’t have quick reflexes, you can easily memorize the necessary sequences required to get past action scenes.

But the game isn’t really about action; it’s about choices. The core interactions with the game come through dialogue and course of action options that change the wider impact of the story depending on what you choose. You can be bold or timid, cruel or bighearted, but the smartest decision is rarely obvious. An innocuous or accidental choice (these are more common if you’re as sloppy with clicking as me) can lead to unforeseen consequences, a lot of regret, and a secret wish for a rewind button. A medieval story is particularly good fodder for a game about choices—justice is found on the sharp end of a sword, so mistakes have drastic aftereffects. This title probably would have functioned just as effectively without the tie-in to Game of Thrones, but it’ll find a wider audience because of it.


Though the game has problems, they’re minor. The gameplay will always feel underdeveloped as long as Telltale insists upon using it as an excuse to string cutscenes together, but that’s just part of their trademark design. Other gameplay elements feel underdeveloped, like an inventory where I could store items that never saw any use (I’m sure these trinkets will come in handy later, but in the first episode it felt like a wasted opportunity). At times the animations felt a bit stilted—whenever someone was killed in front of Gared, for example, he would affect the mildly disappointed expression of someone who is forced to watch another person eat the last piece of cake. But otherwise the game was technically masterful.

Episode one started the series off right, with good acting, interactive choices, and an overarching story that promises a big payoff if we can wait 4-6 weeks between the releases of each episode. Just like the show, this portion ended on a cliffhanger. Now I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Grade: A-
Immersive and evolving story
Choices feel important and impactive
Effectively ties into the Game of Thrones universe                
Good voice acting and interesting characters
– Held back by nearly nonexistent gameplay
– Less enjoyable if you aren’t familiar with the source material

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP Service Pack 3
      Processor: Core 2 Duo 2GHz or equivalent
      Memory: 3 GB RAM
      Graphics: ATI or NVIDIA card w/512 MB RAM
      DirectX: Version 9.0
      Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
      Sound Card: Direct X 9.0c sound device
      Additional Notes: Not Recommended for Intel integrated graphics


    • OS: Snow Leopard (10.6.X)
      Processor: 2.3 Ghz Intel
      Memory: 4 GB RAM
      Graphics: 512 MB NVidia or ATI graphics card
      Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
      Additional Notes: Not recommended for Intel integrated graphics or Mac Minis or early-generation MacBook


Bailey James

Bailey James

Bailey’s lifelong love of adventure games began with the Nancy Drew game Message in a Haunted Mansion, when she learned that you can drop chandeliers on bad people without getting in trouble, and has since expanded to include a panoply of other favorites like the Myst games, the Monkey Island series, any game involving Sherlock Holmes, the Tomb Raider franchise, and the all-time best adventure game ever created, Grim Fandango. She's added more recent releases like Firewatch and Life is Strange to her list but nonetheless loves diving into the old classics. She still spends large amounts of time searching for secret passages in the hope of finding an unsolved mystery lurking out of sight. Bailey graduated from Oberlin College and lived in New York City for three years before returning to her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she is a business development representative for a trucking software company. In addition to hoarding adventure games, her other interests include film, cooking, running, writing fiction, and eating copiously.

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