It’s taken quite a while to get to this point, two weeks shy of a full year in fact, but now the last instalment of Game of Thrones Series 1 is here. Will it tie up all the loose ends that have been left dangling from the previous five episodes? Will the characters you’ve nurtured, shunned or saved through the adventure be there to save your ass or set it on fire? And what will the North Grove actually turn out to be? Let’s find out (keeping it spoiler free, of course).
In summary of where we are, and which characters you play, here’s an update (and this assumes you have a passing knowledge of George R.R. Martin’s works):
- Lord Forrester was killed during the Red Wedding, and is survived by four sons and two daughters.
- One daughter (Mira) is in King’s Landing as a servant to Margaery Tyrell. [playable]
- One son (Rodrik) was severely wounded during the Red Wedding but escaped. [playable]
- One son (Ethan), a young boy, ended up Lord of House Forrester after his father died. [playable]
- One daughter (Talia) is Ethan’s twin.
- One son (Asher) has been exiled to Essos. [playable]
- One son (Ryon) is the youngest and an innocent in all the shenanigans.
- A squire, Gared Tuttle, takes Lord Forrester’s dying message about the secret North Grove back to the Forrester home, and is promptly banished to the Wall for killing a Whitehill guard. [playable]
- The Forrester family have been subjugated by the Whitehill family who are in league with the Bolton’s in order to steal a valuable logging contract (yes, that’s really the plot).
- No one can be trusted and no one is guaranteed to live to the end of an episode.
Right, that’ll do for a catch up, the ins and outs don’t really matter until you play the Game of Thrones as you’ll weave the nuances of the story as you go along, and this last episode is the culmination of all those decisions. Suffice to say you’ll be expecting a big pay off for the way you’ve crafted your adventure and tackled each situation.
As usual, the voice acting and strong story are present, all of which fit neatly within the wider universe of the TV series and make the onscreen activity all the more believable. If you’re able to immerse yourself in the range of environments it’s thrilling to be part of that world, and playing all six episodes at the right point of the TV series chronology would be the perfect way to experience it. However, the four month wait between A Nest of Vipers and The Ice Dragon haven’t really done the series any favours. Once again, on booting it up and getting the recap, I realised how much I’d forgotten and exactly who or what I was supposed to care about. I’d also forgotten about the stuttering game engine, jerky cuts and flickering characters as Game of Thrones implements all the decisions made prior to this episode. Presentation has always been an issue for anything running on the Telltale engine, here’s hoping they update it for whatever comes next, but at least on PS4 it’s not something that will ruin your experience… having no idea whether you were playing shrewd, aggressive or conciliatory with the main players manages to do that for you.
The overriding feeling I had at the end was one of ambivalence, and some efforts to bring characters out on top of a situation failed because it felt like I couldn’t remember what needed to be done. Maybe that’s the beauty of the way you’re managed through the tale – for example, Mira’s shift from innocence to deception and on to dignity in particular could have been my choice, or just the game limiting my options at certain times. On the one hand I like episodic adventures for giving you something to look forward to and absorb in bite size chunks. On the other, you get completely disconnected from the story for long periods of time and don’t regain that familiarity until you’ve spent some time in the world again. Episode 6 doesn’t give you time to build that recognition again and, as a result, if it’s been a few months the impact of the events is significantly lessened. I’m also disappointed that so many loose ends were left at the wrap up too. It’s one thing to want an multi-series adventure, it’s another to realise halfway through the final episode that you’re not going to get closure on many of the events. There should have been a similarity to The Walking Dead in that respect where the end of the first adventure has a finality to it with a hint of more to come, rather than only getting three-quarters of a story. I know the Game of Thrones TV programme and books are the same, but it doesn’t mean it had to be this way with the game.
Disappointment in episodic structure and timing aside, there is a good game here and one worthy of your attention if you’re a fan of the books or TV series. My only advice is that you play from start to finish as quickly as you can, avoiding big gaps in time between the episodes, it’ll make those last few decisions all the more poignant if you do.
A review copy of Game of Thrones Series 1 was provided by the Telltale Games PR team, and all episodes are available now on your favourite platform.