Coming into the final episode of the first series of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series, barring a quite brilliant ending to episode five that would make even big George proud, I was sincerely disappointed. The plot mimicked events in the books too much and failed to carve out its own little slice of Westeros, choices felt inconsequential and the action took too long to get going. However, episode six, ‘The Ice Dragon’, is as cool as the title suggests: this is a thrilling way to spend a couple of hours that makes me eagerly anticipate another series set in The Seven Kingdoms.
Westeros, as you’d imagine, is still about as bleak as a shopping centre on Black Friday as our House Forrester heroes still struggle to rid themselves of the threat of those devious Whitehills. I’m going to have to be very wary of spoilers throughout this review, but suffice to say that, depending on your choices in episode five especially, only certain characters will be available to you in your final spat with your rival house. In King’s Landing, Mira Forrester is also trying as hard as she might to maintain her fragile relations with Margaery Tyrell, but rumours are spreading around the city that might threaten her important ties to her as handmaiden. Lastly, north of The Wall, we’ll find the shivering wreck that is Gared Tuttle as he carries on his search for The North Grove, a mysterious place said to be the salvation of the ailing Forrester House.
Tensions have been building for a long time and, over the course of the series, many choices have been made. However, my key gripe with episode six is that very few of these choices have really made an impact. Unlike Tales From The Borderlands or some of Telltale’s older series, many choices have affected your relationships with important characters that impacts the decisions you can make at the end. Nevertheless, each of the main characters in Game of Thrones have massive dilemmas to work through.
The endings for each character are largely satisfying, only Gared’s venture north feels lacking — yet his section sets up future series in a way that’s at least as good as the TV show. The choices posed to the other characters are some of the most devilish across Telltale’s impressive library: I never felt secure in whether my decisions were right or what I wanted, my options always had significant benefits and drawbacks and I’m very keen to play it all through again to see the consequences I didn’t get round to seeing the first time. This combined with many twists and turns — some more predictable than others — makes the closing episode of the first series of GoT an enthralling experience.
I never felt secure in whether my decisions were right or what I wanted, my options always had significant benefits and drawbacks
From the outset, ‘The Ice Dragon’ grabs you by the scruff of the neck and refuses to let go over two stunning hours of action, drama and bloody murder. The pace and intensity is relentless and, by the end, you’ll be simultaneously exhausted and gasping for more. Early episodes were slow to get going but episode six corrects this and doesn’t leave you a moment to take a breath. From the instant revenge following the shocking conclusion of episode five right through to the action-packed end, ‘The Ice Dragon’ never fails to pull any punches.
It’s not all sunshines and smiles though, but whenever is it in Westeros? I experienced more bugs than ever of the course of the series; Telltale have never really managed to shake certain technical difficulties, but I found disproportionately more in ‘The Ice Dragon’. Prompts notifying me how other characters were reacting to my decisions at times didn’t appear (instead just showing the shaded background of the usual message), lip-syncing issues were near constant and characters in the background felt the need to magically pop in mid-conversation. One of my characters was also foolish enough to forget most of his face and hair colour at one point.
But, despite all this, the story driving Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series overshadows these technical issues. ‘The Ice Dragon’ has righted many of the wrongs committed in earlier episodes: choices actually have meaning and the story has been allowed to be interesting, not just as a result of its connection with the books, but in its own right. A Song of Ice and Fire is a wonderful series, full of bleak, gritty and unpredictable characters making the most challenging and high-stakes decisions imaginable.
The possibility of being able to make these choices and seeing their consequences play out, to shape and manipulate King’s Landing, Castle Black and The Free Cities and feel even more a part of Martin’s masterful world is the reason why I was so excited when I first heard that Telltale would take a tour of The Seven Kingdoms. Only episode six has merited that excitement, providing the potential for Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series to be a meaningful part of Martin’s masterful world.