Monday, November 23, 2015

The Leaden Finger Gamer’s Review – Game of Thrones Episodes 2 to 6

Late last year I reviewed the first episode of Telltale Games’ Game of Thrones video game series. Now episodes two to six have been released, with the final episode coming out this week. The series has had mixed reviews, but I’ve enjoyed it enough to keep an eye on when each new episode is about to be released, and played each one almost as soon as it has come out.

As I said in my previous review, the series centres round the Forrester family, who are a noble family that were aligned with House Stark. Like other Telltale Games such as ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘The Wolf Among Us’ the choices you make as your character affects how the game unfolds. Unlike those other games though in ‘Game of Thrones’ you play as multiple characters, in this case multiple members of the Forrester family.

There are five different characters you play as in the course of the game, from the lord of the House to one of its faithful squires. The stories are set in different parts of the Games of Thrones world, such as King’s Landing, Meereen, and the far North. In each of those stories you encounter characters from the TV series voiced by the actual actors, including Jon Snow, Daenerys, Cersei, Tyrion, Margaery, and Ramsay. 

Most of the game consists of choosing dialogue and actions. Apart from perhaps ‘The Walking Dead’, ‘Game of Thrones’ seems as well-suited as any TV show to this type of gameplay, given that much of the tension in the show derives from the choices the characters make. Being responsible for the fates of the characters, many of which are ‘your family’, does heighten the intensity of being involved in this world. I was worried that the specific choices I made were causing more characters to perish; as it turns out I don’t think I killed off many more people than other players.

Given the mortality rate of ‘Game of Thrones’ though, trying to save characters’ necks probably shouldn’t be your main aim in this game. As one of the characters, Mira, points out – at least in my play through – how you go about living in the face of your fate and therefore how you are remembered are possibly more important than whether you live or not. Without giving too much away, you will be confronted with how you ‘lived’ and how you will be remembered before the credits roll. And even though the other characters were all two‑dimensional figures, I still felt failure when I disappointed them, and triumph when a rare smile came across their face, though more often fear at their narrowed eyes.

While things come to a head as the episodes progress, the last episode ends on a somewhat anti‑climatic note, which made me suspect that another season was in the works, as indeed there is. The more interesting ending actually comes in the penultimate episode, which as I understand it, really affects how the final episode unfolds. I’m not sure I felt as into ‘Game of Thrones’ as much as ‘The Walking Dead’ or ‘The Wolf Among Us’, but I am still a sucker for these games, and very likely will play the next season when it rolls around.

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