Iron from Ice.
This review contains spoilers for prior episodes in the series.
Game of Thrones is likely my favorite current television program. I, and other fans, adore the fact that George R.R. Martin’s world represents the ruthlessness of a world fixated on power and deceit, leaving no character safe from an untimely death. Introducing House Forrester allowed players to demonstrate how they would react to the warring environment in the north, and to the treachery of King’s Landing. However, The Ice Dragon seems to encapsulate everything that is becoming frustrating and disappointing with the television series. It’s a bit of a let-down for what has already been a ‘so-so’ series.
The prior episode left our various Forresters in their various predicaments. Gared is approaching the North Grove with the wildlings Sylvie and mortally wounded Cotter. Rumors are being spread about Mira amongst the King’s Guard, leaving her fearful of the chopping block. And, of course, either Rodrik or Asher lives on to provide one last stand for Ironrath against Ludd and Gryff. The problem with Game of Thrones for the entire series is that your choices are largely irrelevant in regards to the set events that will occur in each episode, and The Ice Dragon continues to be more of the same.
Don’t get me wrong – conversations will change depending on the “alliances” you’ve made or the characters that live, but ultimately a set story continues to be told. When players think back to when they chose their Sentinel, it is disappointing to know that the unchosen house member always turns out to be the traitor, leaving your choice weightless. Just the same, seemingly pivotal choices you made as Mira or Gared to trust certain individuals, or even take lives, will result in nearly identical scenarios.
Game of Thrones still draws strength, however, by allowing you to choose dialogue based upon whether you act with honor or with cunning. In my playthrough, I allowed Asher to live over Rodrik as I felt Ironrath would fall without Asher’s warriors (as well as Asher to lead them). I grew fond of Rodrik which ultimately caused great emotion when rallying those still faithful to the House. However, it is interesting to be faced with the many crucial decisions in the final episode. Whereas I refused to accept what I’ve learned from family deaths or even from the television show up until this point, I chose to act with deceit at times in order to obtain my goals. Nevertheless, certain characters may already be on their path to death, and I felt as though there was nothing I could do to prevent it. The large idea of this series is whether you will act with courage and nobility in the face of death, or whether you will forego your honor to achieve your goals. It’s an interesting idea, if only the resolution weren’t so lackluster.
After five seasons of the television show, it’s become rather tedious and frustrating at times. I can appreciate a world in which the heroes often lose, and where beloved characters are butchered. However, the show suffers from continuously opening more and more plot threads without ever offering resolution to old ones. Instead, it goes on and on, introducing new characters when all I, and many other fans, long for is some culmination. The issue with Telltale’s Game of Thrones is that it is more of the same. For five episodes, players move through a series of tragic events, looking for a finale to the feud between the Whitehills and the Forresters. The Ice Dragon offers big battles (which unfortunately chug along on consoles because of the poor engine), hard choices, and more death, but foregoes any satisfying conclusion in favor of a season two setup. When my final choices appeared after the ending, I stared at the screen and merely said, “Well, okay.”
Whereas the series suffers from similar narrative choices that the show does, it presents strong and interesting characters with Gared, Rodrik, and Asher in particular. The journey to the mysterious North Grove provided an interesting plot thread similar to the White Walker intrigue, but it is frustrating to get no answers at all for our efforts. It’s even more frustrating to see characters like Mira be overlooked as the choices I made and alliances I formed seemed to be irrelevant. Players would like to see some answers to old questions, before being faced with new ones. However, we’re stuck waiting for a second season, or a third, or so on if it goes in the style of its inspiration.