Telltale Games must have worked overtime in 2014, delivering four seasons of episodes from Tales from the Borderlands, The Walking Dead Season 2, The Wolf Among Us, and finally Game of Thrones at the tail end of the year. The concern that the developers are stretching itself thin and rushing Game of Thrones to hit the holiday season in early December is valid enough to raise an eyebrow. Fortunately, this first episode in a planned series of six delivers a satisfactory narrative that pairs well as a companion to the acclaimed HBO drama, though its illusion of choice is relatively thin despite the game's opening claim that the story adapts to your decisions.
As a fair warning, the game's tangential story of the members in House Forrester, whose allegiance to House Stark uncomfortably places it against the Crown, is meant for fans of the books or the television show (or both). The plot begins at the infamous Red Wedding that takes place at the climax of the second season, so if you haven't watched or read anything Game of Thrones, then this will only serve to confuse you or, worse, spoil the rich, intricate, and epic “septology” crafted by George R. R. Martin.
That said, this paragraph includes minor spoilers so go ahead and skip it if you must. Most of the troubles that plague House Forrester nearly match those of House Stark once they find themselves on the losing end of the war: the Lord and the eldest brother of House Forrester have fallen in battle, the squire Gared Tuttle more or less follows the path of Jon Snow, one sister is at King's Landing and must deal with Cersei's political charades, and Ironrath struggles with food shortages and a boy whose been turned into the acting Lord out of necessity. The one core difference is the ironwoods which still remain within the House's control and can be turned into fire-resistant shields and ships, hence the House's motto “Iron from Ice.” However, House Whitehill and Ramsey Snow may soon take claim on the Forrester's best bargaining chip for clemency.
Conceptually, it's notable that the developers didn't choose a setting like Braavos where they would have more freedom with the story and not be tied down by the fixed pivotal events that occur in Westeros, but not seeing cameos of your favorite characters would have been a missed opportunity. The interactions between the members of House Forrester with Cersei Lannister, Tyrion Lannister, Margaery Tyrell, and Ramsey Snow anchor this offshoot and provide ample fan service. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the shaded rendering of these characters don't completely match their respective counterparts from the TV show, but they do a passing job.
At the same time, the illusion of choice in this first episode is rather thin and becomes apparent upon a second playthrough. No matter which dialogue option you choose, the general outcome mostly remains the same. Now, that's to be expected from a first episode, since its function is meant to be the setup for the rest of the series, and to be fair, we don't know whether some of the highlighted decisions at the end of each chapter will make a significant impact in a later episode. The best Telltale franchises end with a finale that takes the wealth of decisions you've made throughout the series into consideration, so we can only hope that Game of Thrones will follow suit.
This video game adaptation of Game of Thrones is solid enough to be mandatory for fans of the series, but should be considered carefully by fans of the adventure genre. The plight of House Forrester passes through some of our desire to see the Stark family reunited in the main series, and by that the story plays it close to the chest. Some of the most shocking scenes are unavoidable, however, due to the railroading of the decisions. The environments and animations aren't as smooth and detailed as they could be either, but the voice-acting and overall dialogue keep the game from slipping too far off course.