By Bryan Smith on February 9, 2015 at 11:10pm
With the first episode of TellTale Games’ “Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice” being released several weeks ago (as of this writing), many people thought the first entry was a great beginning to a gripping story; us included. Personally I think it’s a great compromise to have other houses getting some attention while staying canon to the TV series (can’t say the same for the books though).
Now that the second episode, “The Lost Lords,” is out, how does this installment to the first season of TellTale Games’ “Game of Thrones” hold out? While I think certain elements shine and are really well done, this episode really doesn’t feel important to the grand scheme of things.
Expectations for "Game of Thrones" Are Shattered
My biggest complaint with “Game of Thrones,” as in general and not with the games, is that there is a terrible percipient going into the series. That percipient being anyone and everyone will die at some point. No one is safe, and that just gives me very little to invest in character-wise. Instead of putting me on edge to see if, say, Tyrion is going to make it, I just have a checklist of who is going to die, and he’s at the bottom. Having characters work around deaths and not really have them impact greatly is somewhat lazy writing to me.
That leads into TellTale Games’ “Game of Thrones.” The first episode made me feel the very same way, especially with spoiler-level character deaths. In fact, I’d go as far to say the Forresters mirrored the Starks way too much.
However, with one particular character that you get to play as that I shall not spoil, I can happily say that TellTale Games’ breaks the trend of having expected deaths. I was not expecting to see [spoiler character] again and playable too. I can’t even say the same thing for “The Walking Dead” series, as they are just as notorious for their character deaths too.
Characters Are Still Witty and Colorful
I don’t think I need to explain my thoughts on the characters for TellTale Games. Their character building is always superb, and it’s no different here. In fact, I think the writers here add a bit more personality than the show and books do - specifically Asher. He reminds me of Bigby Wolf from “The Wolf Among Us” in which you can make him a kind jerk if you so choose. He always brought a smile to my face, along with his friend Beskha.
There isn’t much else I can add to that characters or the writing. I think TellTale Games’ quality speaks for itself.
There Is Little That Actually Happens in This Episode
More setup than payoff, this is the big problem to “The Lost Lords.” In the grand scheme of things, almost nothing happens that impacts the story. I think it isn’t the fault of TellTale Games themselves here but more along the nature of “Game of Thrones.” Take their series of “The Walking Dead” and “The Wolf Among Us” for example. Every event Lee, Clementine, and Bigby experienced felt it helped further the story, even if it was just showing life.
That doesn’t happen so much with “Game of Thrones.” Another problem that bogs down the series, not just this particular game alone, is that when characters aren’t getting murdered, the other half is politics and preparation to do something politically. Sure, there are moments where characters can just … breathe and live their lives, but they seem few and far between characters saying lines like, “Those traitorous [insert house or key character] are bastards, we need a way to kill them,” and “If we can’t kill [insert house or key character], there has to be a workaround.” That is what happens with this episode, and it just frustrates me that most of these moments could have been chopped up to serve as the beginning of the third episode.
For example, Asher is told of the events of what happened to House Forrester. He decides to go back home now that he is welcomed back to help his family house. And that is it for him. Another example is Mira is told that [spoiler character] needs Margaery’s help for a brothel. She can decide to forge a letter or ignore the idea. The funny thing about this event? Mira’s decision can be overruled by specific choices later, which makes Mira’s parts more pointless than helpful. Sure, there is her ending that something does happen, but that’s only a few minutes that something new happens.
The Wall Perpetuates the Pointlessness
The worst part, which goes back to the whole “more setup” situation, of “The Lost Lords” comes at The Wall. It’s a shame that Gared Tuttle, who was greatly used in “Iron From Ice,” is just thrown aside so nothing could happen. Gared has small character interactions with training QTE’s that aren’t considerably important at all.
Also Jon Snow is criminally misused. He just appears and gives Gared some small advice for The Wall. It feels so weird that Jon Snow, of all people, acts like a mentor character. As best said by Ygritte from the show, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Shame he just wasn’t given a lot to do to begin with, but that harkens back to the episode being more setup than payoff.
Decent Episode, But Tyrion Wouldn't Be Impressed
Though I started off with high hopes with the first episode “Iron From Ice,” “The Lost Lords” felt like it staggered a bit. Not to say that the episode is terrible, no. TellTale Games are still up to their greatness with their characters and interactions. They even subverted a negative I personally found in the “Game of Thrones” series. It’s just that the setup of this episode doesn’t really feel satisfying, and parts like The Wall aren’t very entertaining.
Since this is the first TellTale Games series that has six episodes instead of four or five (that I am aware of), I’m concerned now that we already hit that setup part of the season. Usually, from what I saw, the fourth episode would be the setup for the heart-pounding finale. We’re only at episode two out of six. If they alternate with setup and payoff episodes like this, this may lead to fatigue very quickly.