Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series - Iron From IceOverview -
Telltale Games has been very busy this year. They finished up their 2013 series, 'The Wolf Among Us' and season two of 'The Walking Dead'. They have recently released the first episode of 'Tales from the Borderlands' and now comes their take on 'Game of Thrones', the popular HBO original show based on a fantasy book series by George R. R. Martin. The first episode is 'Iron From Ice'. Note that this game is unrelated to the Cyanide release from 2012.
The world of 'Game of Thrones' takes place primarily on two continents: Westeros, which resembles Britain and Western Europe (politically, if not geographically) and Essos, which is more Eastern in culture. The level of development roughly corresponds to the thirteenth or fourteenth century in real life history. For instance, crossbows are common, but gunpowder is not available. There is some magic, often in the form of undead or fantastical creatures like dragons. During the setting of the book series, the capital of Westeros is in a state of civil war with its northern provinces, with many noble families and other interested parties vying for the continental throne. In the midst of this chaos, two other forces threaten Westeros: the White Walkers, mysterious and powerful undead necromancers from the north, and Daenerys Targaryen, scion of an exiled royal family, who has consolidated a massive power base from Essos.
'Game of Thrones' uses a heavy stylized visual theme. All characters, textures, and environments have a brushed pastel quality intended to make them look like a moving watercolor. For the most part the effect is pretty, especially in environments with a high contrast, but it does include some weirdness. Skin sometimes looks odd, and items in the background like flame or cloth exhibit unsightly foxing at a distance. (Smaller interiors, balconies and so forth could certainly benefit from a sharper version with smaller brush strokes.) 'Iron From Ice' is mostly free of the framerate errors that have beset previous Telltale releases and chugs along smoothly, even during busy scenes.
Character animations remain the key trouble spot, especially with regards to sudden timing pops. Several characters are modeled after the TV's actors and actresses with varying degrees of pleasant/creepiness.
HBO’s production value has carried over into the game, from the distinctive opening montage, theme music, and even the voice actors. Four characters from the show appear in this episode and all are voiced by their live-action actors. Other characters are portrayed very well, particularly main characters Ethan and Mira Forrester. Unlike the video, there is some stuttering in the audio tracks. Characters will sometimes repeat a line, or lip syncing won’t match up.
Telltale improves their formula with every release they produce and I am very optimistic about 'Game of Thrones'. 'Iron From Ice' is an excellent first episode and skillfully channels its source material while preserving the charm and personality of an adventure game. The lore is very complicated and perhaps intimidating to newcomers, but this is among the best opening episodes of an adventure game in recent years.
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