Game of Thrones episode one: Iron From Ice Review [Xbox 360]

Game of Thrones has not had a good run with videogame, unlike the books, TV series, toys and the mountain of other goods. Its first attempt in 2011 with the strategy game 'Game Of Thrones: Genesis' was met with a poor response while also flying under most people radars. In 2012 there was the far more promising action RPG titled simply 'Game Of Thrones' but yet again the series met with failure. The franchise's video game ambitions were in uncertain waters, however all was not lost as in 2014 the current champions of narrative gameplay, TellTale Games, decided to have a stab at the Game Of Thrones series. The Result is TellTales 'Game Of Throne Episode one: Iron From Ice'

TellTale's Game of Thrones is for fans of the TV series, the game opens midway into the series and doesn't do much in catching you up with the plot. It expects you to be up to date, if you're not then expect confusion and spoilers galore. However, with everyone and their mothers being a fan of Game of Thrones at the moment this probably won't factor into most people's decision to play it. Unlike the previous Game of Thrones games this one has firmly placed itself in the HBO TV shows universe; using many of the same actors from the TV series, locations and following the same canon of events to the books. This is definitely HBO's Game Of Thrones.

Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice follows the Forrester Family, a noble family from the north who have to survive the power struggle happening across Westeros. The Forresters are a fairly small and obscure family in the franchise mentioned in, the fifth book, the Dance Of Dragons. However, here the characters are in the midst of the action interacting with some of the most recognisable personalities from the TV show, all of whom are voice acted by the shows cast. This helps achieve the feeling of having an active involvement in the events unfolding in the world of Game of Thrones. One of the best examples of this is a chapter mid-way into the game in which you manoeuvre the court politics of Kings Landing, having to manipulate, lie and/or beg to achieve your goals. This is where Game Of Thrones: Iron From Ice is at its best, the writing is on point and the choices have weight. For a franchise where the dragons and ice zombies often take a back seat to high stake politics, this is an important factor for the game to get right.

The game play is of point-and-click adventure lineage. So, if you are still waiting for the high octane character action game where you play Khal Drogo on a bloody power trip then you're going to be disappointed. Those who also have a love for the puzzle segments of adventure games will be left feeling untested by rudimentary QuickTime event segments. Game of Thrones: Iron from Ice is all about narrative, cunning and trying not to make a choice that will come to stab you in the back several episodes later. While it's still just the first episode, the game succeeds in portraying the gravitas of your choices. A few of these in particular feel as though they could splinter off and change entire story lines for different players. The game lets you play as multiple characters mirroring the narrative of the books and TV series. This sets you up to expect anything to happen, no one is safe, if someone dies the plot will carry on. This replicates the same uneasy feeling the books capture of uncertainty and tension, no one is safe and anything is possible.

Game of Thrones : Iron From Ice struggles with some of the technical issues TellTale Games have had in the past; the load times can be humongous and the graphics dodgy. However, while previously these issues could noticeably mire the tone and experience of TellTale's games, with Game Of Thrones there is a noticeable improvement. As I was playing, very few graphical errors cut into my immersion and the load times rarely left me worrying the game had crashed. Despite these few technical issues, the art style side of the game is excellent. The use of painted, somewhat comic art design may seem an out of place choice for Game Of Thrones, however, the use of earthy colour keeps it from feeling too cartoonish and retains the feeling of the TV series.

Game Of Thrones: Iron From Ice succeeds where past game for the franchise have failed, being able to both pull you in to believing this is the world of Westeros and also in keeping you interested in the plot long enough to feel engaged. While the previous Game Of Thrones (2012) game had treated the player as a newbie to the franchise, with tedious exposition about The Wall and Seven Kingdoms which most players already knew about. TellTale's game assumes you have that knowledge already, with exposition limited to characters created just for the game. I would recommend episode one of Game of Thrones: Iron from Ice to anyone who is a fan of the series, it is the closest there is to a playable episode of Game of Thrones. For those who haven't seen the TV series however it's probably best you avoid this title for now and watch the TV show first.