Updated: Sep 17, 2019
My Frequent Friday Friend was otherwise occupied this weekend so our regularly scheduled gaming was postponed and thus I found myself at an unusual loose end as the weekend loomed. I knew I wanted to do some gaming but my solo options were limited so instead I turned to my old friend the Xbox.
It has been a goodly long while (2+ years) since I finished Season 2 of #Telltale’s #WalkingDead series so I thought it was about time I played one of the other titles in the series. Having just finished watching season 7 of #GameofThrones I was in the mood to adventure in Westeros and so my journey began in earnest.
For those who haven’t heard of or played any of the Telltale series, they are a lot more like a roleplaying game than you might expect. They are driven by story rather than combat. In a similar vein to Ian Livingstone & Steve Jackson’s #FightingFantasy series you are offered options and different ways to pick your path through the story.
The story itself is in full colour and fully voiced, including extensive conversations with characters from the show voiced by the talented chaps and chapesses that play them on HBO’s cinematic masterpiece. We begin at The Twins on the night of the Red Wedding. You play as Gared Tuttle, a squire to Lord Forrester, as he attempts to survive the betrayal by Walder Frey’s men.
The visuals and the quality of the voice acting draws you intently into the story from the very beginning and I found myself picking my way through my conversations with purpose. I chose to play Gared as an honest and straightforward man who was not interested in gossip or manipulation. He was a straight talker, someone who knew what he wanted.
As the story evolved I began to realise that although my version of Gared was an honest man and a brave man, he was not a fool, he was loyal to his Lord even if that meant letting others down. He was also a pragmatist, he could see hopeless situations and accept when things were lost. He was also quick to anger when his family was threatened and not eager to accept blame even if it was for the greater good.
As the story unfolds you play further characters, Lord Ethan, who I played as a young man making tough choices but trying to make the right ones. When offered the choice of an obviously good man, or a gruff, hot head, as my Sentinel (my counsellor) I chose the hot-head to act as a foil to my more measured approach.
Next I took on the role of Mira, she was acting as handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell down in King’s Landing and was being put up by her mother to ask the Queen to intercede and protect us from Ramsay Bolton. I struggled with just how to even broach such a subject with the, soon to be, Queen and when I finally did bring it up I made sure to let her know that the favour was not mine to ask.
A little later I was brought before Cersei Lannister and asked to prove my allegiance to King Joffrey. Knowing what I knew of the impertinent King, I was reluctant to give such a pledge, but knowing I needed Margaery's help I persisted, saying what I thought Cersei would want to hear but without actually committing to a course of action. I played Mira as brave and headstrong. Her loyalty to herself rather than her family far away in the north. Perhaps I played her as a little selfish, but being in King's Landing placed her in more danger than her family, at least in my eyes.
As episode one wrapped up it’s story Lord Ethan would come face to face with Ramsay Snow, the Bastard of Bolton and one of the most evil characters the show has ever produced. The air in my courtroom was palpable and I felt I did well to hold my own in the battle of words. Of course, things did not go my way as the episode closed and I could finally take a breath.
The game was truly immersive, every decision I made felt like it had weight and because my characters were all taking choices that impacted one another, even when they were separated by hundreds of miles and in episode 2 even by the ocean itself. The interconnectivity between the characters and scenes made this an even more intense experience than that of the Walking Dead, where your decisions largely affected the group you were with, with more immediate consequences.
Even though the game has to be on rails to a certain point, nothing felt out of place. The decisions I made had logical conclusions, I didn't feel like my path was being dictated by the needs of the story but was instead growing organically out of the choices I was making. This is a magical achievement for a video game, with no game master to steer it and correct for player choices.
Having a knowledge of the show really added to the experience too. My fondness for Tyrion Lannister made it easier for me to trust and confide in him, while knowing the truly psychopathic nature of Cersei made the interrogation in the throne room a tense experience where every word had to be chosen with care.
I’m looking forward to returning to #Westeros soon to see just where the Forrester family will end up and if Gared Tuttle can survive the cold wastes beyond the wall.