Telltale games have worked hard to establish a high pedigree. Defining their own genre of interactive storybook adventures, containing mature themes, presentation and content. The impact Telltale has made on casual and hardcore gamers alike is without question.
Just how much of an impact? For example the comments section on Pewdiepie’s Walking Dead play through was the emotionally charged straw that broke the camel’s back. Whatever the given reason by Pewdiepie, the levels of collective butthurt whining to people’s opinion on what was the “best ending” (SPOILERS, FUCK!). The vitriol on how he should have played the game was followed by the disabling of comments on his videos going forward. Quite a statement by YouTubes largest subscribed channel muting the internet.
It illustrates how these games are capable of delivering a swift kick to the feels. Your choices (although superficial and not greatly impacting the narrative) maintain enough illusion of freewill to draw you deep into the characters world. The top-notch writing on the Walking Dead Game was equal to the best and most “what the fuck?!?” moments in either the show or the comic.
TellTale’s Walking Dead level of quality was not a one shot deal. The Wolf Among Us based on the outstanding graphic novel series Fables. Again it was elevated above a simple point and click adventure providing an emotional hook (line and sinker) for players.
Further increasing TellTale games market was its appearance on everything everywhere. PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Ps3, Ps4, iOS and Android all have their games available. Their reach is total.
So does the high precedent set by TellTale succeed in bringing the Game Of Thrones across the narrow sea or at least the uncanny valley to faithfully recreate the feel and plotting of the series?
The answer is “err sort of?”.
First of all its important to point out with the Walking Dead the game skated somewhere between the comic and the series in tone and continuity, The Wolf Among Us formed its own interpretation of the comics continuity. The first episode Game of Thrones the Game (hereafter known as GOTTG because, fuck word count) does a little of both. It works in a little known house and puts it in the middle of events pursuant to the Red Wedding. If you need a spoiler warning 18 months after the fact you shouldn’t be playing this game (or on the internet).
The setting in GOTTG feels a little forced at times being somewhat slavish to the established events, “Oh remember this important part, well yeah that was you in the background!!!!”. Yes we get it we are in the show, oooo magic of digital entertainment, it’s just like fucking Tron, happy now? Get on with the story. I found it jarring in the game as events in the show are presented with less winking at the camera. They just unfold.
Also further overloading the first installment is the intercutting the narrative between 3 characters within the story arc consisting of the Pig
Fucker Farmer turned squire, the Fresh Prince (AKA gonna turn him into Joffery lol) and handmaiden “totally not Sansa, srs, winkyface”.
Unlike the books or the show the twists and plot points can be seen a mile off (Yep Spoilers ahoy).
Piggery pokery gets banished to the wall for trying to save Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, “Say hi to Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly for me when you get there.”
When the Fresh Princes mother insists on sending someone abroad to search for your disowned sellsword brother you can hear the plot’s clockwork gears turning “Guess ill be playing him next episode during the obligatory meeting with the Khalisi “. Or when the chimney sweep McCoalboy tells “totally not Sansa” “I hear things, no one notices me, I can help you.” ohhh so working for littlefinger then? (probably) or Varys, doesn’t really matter, pretty much whatever spidersense feeling you have for plot direction annnd you are probably right.
Some of the inevitable intrigue is quite enjoyable. Especially an interactive verbal jousting match with Cersi Lanister voiced by Lena Headey (who is apparently stroking the red viper IRL) and refereed by Peter “Tentpole” Dinklage. Also some minor world-building by learning about Ironwood and how it fits into the resource economy of Westeros. Most outstanding of all, every scene with the Bastard of Bolton in full bastard mode voiced by Iwan Rheon from the series drips with malice. And yes when the “Oh Shit” moment comes you will be shocked and have to sit down think about your life and call your mum to hear her voice.
So although it suffers from being overtly self referencing at times this is balanced against the feel, locations and dialogue. I am sensing possible influence or interference from the shows media minders to make sure it “fit the brand”. Perhaps this pushed the retelling of the shows archetypes and situations into the Westeros sigil shaped cookie cutter. Telltale have already proven with The Walking Dead you don’t need to have your characters Forrest Gump their way into meeting every major character or location from the source material to tell a good tale. They didn’t have to here.
I played it through again just to be sure I got at least several different viewpoints on how things play out (Spoilers, pretty much the same plus minus dialogue, much like every other TellTale game) but what struck me this time was just how awesome Ramsey Snow is in it, actually he is worth the price of admission alone for this game. Or the season pass for the rest of the episodes as it turned out. Hoping for flaying a man alive mini game for next episode please.
Either way fans of the genre, book, show or Telltale will get enjoyment from it and I predict it will get better by the following episodes and find its groove. But please, enough with the fan service. We are fans already, make good content, don’t patronise us, shut up and take our money!
Up next, (Tell) Tales from the Borderlands makes me its MeatBicycle.