Dangerous Words in Telltale's Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice

Dangerous Words in Telltale's Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice

Dissecting the characters and relationships in Telltale's Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice.

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Oddly enough, I had the complete opposite reaction from Iron From Ice.

I like Telltale Games, but the Game of Thrones property tries to tie in so closely with the events of Season 4 that it's almost bound by it. At least with the Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us or Tales from the Borderlands or even Back to the Future: The Game, I felt that I was making another original entry in the universe and the consequences (or lack thereof because of the branching paths converging) felt part of its own story.

In Game of Thrones, I get none of that. Part of me always knows that something is going to happen so that the Forresters always reacting to the show canon. You know something can't happen to Margaery or Tyrion or Ramsay because they're part of the canon and the canon must be held. The characters feel like excuses just to watch them. Gared is there to hang around Jon Snow and Sam. Mira is there to see all the stuff between Tyrion and Joffrey go down. Asher's probably going to see Daenerys at one point or another. I guess the 'best' of these stories that has the most freedom to be its own material is Lady Forrester and Talia (you know, when Ramsay isn't making cameo appearances).

It really does feel like I'm playing another tie-in game again, like The Godfather game or even Force Unleashed. But Telltale has proven they can tell independent stories outside those narratives. In the Walking Dead, we met Herschel and Glenn for brief cameos, but they were written out so we can get on with the story and have it be about Lee and Clementine. (Though I'm not entirely sure Glenn or Herschel are the same ones we met in the TV series).

It almost feels like a no win situation. I didn't know Game of Thrones prior to playing the game and I felt completely lost with all the references, cameos, rules and other gobbly gook that seems almost necessary to getting the full enjoyment of the game. Now that I have prior knowledge of the series, part of me knows that whatever choices I make, half if not more of them, will be rendered meaningless because of Telltale's formula and the show's canon. In contrast, Tales of the Borderlands feels much more accessible, does not require knowledge of the series prior and the illusion of choice at least feels more convincing.

But, that's just my opinion.

I was honestly disappointed by it. Coming off of TWD Season Two, where it became sadly clear just how little your choices actually mattered, I was hoping they would let the player make some decisions in this one that actually affected the outcomes in a major way. We got a few of those in TWD S1; at least with respect to what major characters were still around.

But no. I chose a drastically different option toward the end from my boyfriend, and when we discussed the result later, it was 100% identical (even though in my case it required soldiers literally teleporting through the walls to accomplish, with no explanation whatsoever). What's even the point if nothing I choose matters in any appreciable way? I might as well just pick "..." for every dialogue option and see how the pre-ordained story plays out.

House of Cards should definitely get the Telltale treatment.

Sadly, after expriencing enough TellTale games you know that in the end you're railroaded to the same path with some cosmetic change, making choices seems far less significant.

"Telltale built their reputation on stuff like this."

Well, no, they built it upon games like Sam & Max and Wallace & Gromit, games with actual gameplay rather than a 'choice simulator + a bit of walking and QTEs'. They subsequently demolished that reputation when they took that path. I don't begrudge them for doing it, but being a gamer I like to play games of substance and challenge, and not an interactive TV show.

Blood Brain Barrier:
"Telltale built their reputation on stuff like this."

Well, no, they built it upon games like Sam & Max and Wallace & Gromit, games with actual gameplay rather than a 'choice simulator + a bit of walking and QTEs'. They subsequently demolished that reputation when they took that path. I don't begrudge them for doing it, but being a gamer I like to play games of substance and challenge, and not an interactive TV show.

I feel the same way, I liked Tales of Monkey Island for it felt like a game, but starting with The Walking Dead they no longer feel like games but interactive books.

This article really sums it up for me. I find it odd that the reaction to the first episode is so negative. For me, GoT has been the most involved Telltale game in terms of analyzing choices and thinking of the consequences down the road. Sure, most of my decisions likely won't drastically change the story. But that's also part of GoT. There are so many characters who fight and fight and struggle against the world, only to fail regardless. The players in the game of thrones ultimately have very little leverage on their own. So, it almost always comes down to alliances and your ability to judge the trustworthiness of others, which at least in this first episode, really is the focus.

Another counter argument I have for people complaining that there is railroading down a set path is this:
It isn't about whether every decision leads down a new plot branch. it is about the choices laid out before you, whether they're comprehensive and make sense for the character. And then, it's important that whatever result comes out from that is believable. In life, sometimes you think about your plan of action when faced with a dilemma, then make your decision, only for it to turn out to be futile anyway. It's harsh, but that's life too.

dolgion:

Another counter argument I have for people complaining that there is railroading down a set path is this:
It isn't about whether every decision leads down a new plot branch. it is about the choices laid out before you, whether they're comprehensive and make sense for the character. And then, it's important that whatever result comes out from that is believable. In life, sometimes you think about your plan of action when faced with a dilemma, then make your decision, only for it to turn out to be futile anyway. It's harsh, but that's life too.

I agree, but the problem starts when every (or almost every) decision is futile. That's simply not how life works; sometimes, in life, seemingly incidental decisions have an enormous impact on future outcomes. When a story plays out identically whether you choose one drastically different option or another, or simply remain silent throughout, it kills my suspension of disbelief (which was already withering with TWD S2).

 

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