Game of Thrones Episode 1: Iron from Ice review (Xbox One)
Game of Thrones: Iron from Ice was developed and published on Xbox One and Xbox 360 by Telltale Games. It was released December 3, 2014 for $4.99. A copy was provided by Telltale for review purposes.
Having recently played through the first episode of Telltale Games’ Game of Thrones, I’m pretty thankful for XBLA Fans’ new approach to reviewing episodic games. No doubt you’re wondering why, and the answer is simple – because whilst this episode shows a lot of promise for the rest of the season, it is generally uneventful in isolation and scoring it as a standalone game would be quite a challenge.
The season begins during the Red Wedding and introduces us to a new family in the form of House Forrester. These loyal followers of House Stark are immediately thrown into a difficult position both at home and away because of their allegiance. This first episode does a decent job as the introduction that it aims to be by placing us in the shoes of Lord Ethan, his sister Mira and the house squire Gared. Thankfully, Telltale has created a generally likable cast of heroes in this trio. Lord Ethan is suitably believable as our main character, stepping into his father’s shoes following the outcome of the Red Wedding. His sister Mira occupies an interesting and entirely different position as the handmaid of Queen-in-waiting Margaery Tyrell, whilst the final character is the house squire, Gerad.
Although this episode is largely formulaic, it does feature two exceptional scenes. The first shows us Cersei Lannister simmering in characteristic style as she twists the politically inexperienced young Mira’s words against her time after time to embarrass her and patron Margaery Tyrell at court. It’s the kind of thing that fans have come to expect from Cersei, and it’s also the closest thing to a puzzle-via-dialogue that Telltale offers us in this episode. The second truly memorable scene is undoubtedly more foreboding and features Ramsay Snow – in this appearance, the psychotic antagonist dominates the scene with his swagger and giggling nonchalance.
This is a Telltale game, so you already know what to expect. But even so, at the beginning of each new series I hope to see just a little more gameplay, just a few more puzzles, maybe just a little nod to the fact that what I’m staring at is a computer game and not a semi-interactive digital comic. If anything, the first episode of Game of Thrones is the least interactive Telltale game I’ve experienced for some time. Despite these minor issues, Game of Thrones is shaping up to be a well-written and interesting addition to the canon fiction, so here’s hoping that things ramp up quickly through the following episodes.
To find reviews of other episodes (as they become available), check out the Game of Thrones review hub.