Every time we play an episode of a Telltale game we feel like we might immune to the formula. Maybe this one will be boring, we know our decisions don’t really matter, we know everything will go terribly (this is even more true as it’s also Game of Thrones), but every time we play one we’re blown away by how they manage to present drama in a videogame. In terms of story writing and adult drama there’s simply nothing else like it in mainstream gaming (and very little in the world of indie).
In episode two some new characters are introduced, more starts from the show are present and there’s the usual healthy mix of action and gut wrenching decisions. There’s one decision that is taken completely out of your hands and feel spectacularly unfair, but other than that you have a little more control and get to make some more weighty decisions than in the last episode. It definitely feels like this is just setting the stage for some horrible payoffs in an episode or two and it’s incredibly easy to talk yourself intro traps here and make promises you couldn’t possibly fulfil. Through this Telltale has grasped exactly what it is that makes Game of Thrones so special. It’s not the sword fighting, the dragons or the wall. It’s the betrayal, the diplomacy and the constant moral dilemmas that characters face. The fact that we know and understand some of these characters (And they do stay true at least to their TV counterparts) means that we have a little extra knowledge than the characters we’re roleplaying as and this only adds to the entertainment.
As always the graphics are a little rough but heavily stylised and the sound production is top-notch. The music in this episode really stands out as something that could so easily have just been rushed, with a song or two nabbed from the soundtrack to the TV show, but instead they’ve gone to the trouble of composing entirely new music that fits in with the universe and the quality of music elsewhere. The voice-acting is also on form and the game is helped immeasurably by having the shows cast reading their lines and really getting into it.
Overall this episode is a triumph. There’s two particularly stupid decisions (both in some gardens) that will leave you fuming, but the rest is everything we’ve hoped for from this game. There’s even a brilliant little easter egg in a change to the ‘so and so will remember this’ text at the top of the screen. Keep your eyes out!