Winter is Coming, Our Blades are Sharp and a Lannister always pays his debts; these words are familiar to any and all Game of Thrones fans. Well, now you can add another sentence to the list: Iron from Ice – House Forrester’s Words and the title of the very first episode of Telltale Games’ new series, based on the Game of Thrones TV show by HBO.

Just like in HBO’s show, Iron from Ice follows multiple story lines and stretching across multiple characters and locations, all connected to House Forrester – a house that’s lightly mentioned in George R. R. Martin’s novels. Bannermen to House Stark, you can imagine the position the Forresters are in at the end of season 4, where our story starts. Lets just say things are not looking up for the people of the north, and it is up to the player to try and save the house from those who wish to do it harm and take control of its most precious resource – the iron wood. How you do that, well, that is entirely up to the choices you make and the people you trust.

While all of the characters you play as are new, you do get to meet and see more than a few familiar places and faces. You’ll start off as a young squire fighting beside Lord Forrester under the command of Rob Stark, but by the end of the episode you will have traveled across the seven kingdoms, spoken to key figures from the show and taken the roles of a few more of House Forrester’s denizens. I won’t spoil anything by getting into too much detail, but the story is heavy on intrigue, power struggles and betrayal – basically a normal day in the Game of Thrones universe.

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Actually, that’s exactly what makes this episode so good – it feels like an episode from the TV series. Telltale Games has worked hard on capturing the essence of the show, and it payed off. Everything, from the dialog to the atmosphere to the action, feels like it has been lifted straight from the show and re-formatted into a game. In fact, it’s hard to imagine someone not familiar with the show or novels playing through this episode and understanding what’s going on. That is maybe the one flaw in Iron From Ice, but doing that would be like starting to watch the TV show from season 4 and expecting everything to make perfect sense.

But enough about Game of Thrones the TV show. Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice stands tall of its own, mostly thanks to the script and dialog. Everything you do and say is meaningful and has real consequence for the story and characters. In fact, this is the first time in a Telltale game I felt responsible for so many things happening, even if they were beyond my control. Since this is Game of Thrones, every choice, no matter how irrelevant it seems, will eventually lead to an unforeseeable and possibly shocking outcome. Iron from Ice ends up being an intense experience that’s more fast-paced than any other debut episode of past Telltale series. True, the gameplay is still pretty bare-boned and is basically limited to a series of quick-time events, but this is the same formula that worked so well in The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, and it still does here.

What is somewhat different from the rest of Telltale Games work is the art style. It still has that distinct look to it that immediately betrays its origin, but unlike the comics-inspired art of previous series, Iron from Ice has more in common with an oil painting. You can see virtual brush strokes on every texture, and colors and backgrounds are more subtle and even a little washed-out to match the dreary visuals of the show. It’s all very beautiful to look at, but more importantly its the perfect visual style for this game. Plus, the brilliant opening credits from the show are recreated in-engine especially for the game, though admittedly they looks much less impressive.

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What more, the actors from the TV show are back to reprise their roles in the digital realm. Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage are voicing Cersei and Tyrion Lannister respectively, and Margaery Tyrell is portrayed once again by Natalie Dormer. All of them, including the people voicing the less recognizable characters, do a marvelous job at bringing every conversation to life. Special mention goes to Headey for recreating Cersei in all her conniving, intimidating glory.

Game of Thrones’ first episode, Iron from Ice, paints a grim yet exciting picture, filled with everything that made the TV show such a hit. It has intrigue, action and political tension pouring from every scene, but it never feels too much. Those not familiar with the HBO show won’t find a lot to be excited about here, but fans who just can’t wait for season 5 most definitely will. Game of Throne: A Telltale Series is off to a great start, maybe the best in Telltale’s history, which is a big win. And when you play the game of thrones, it’s better to win.


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