9
Our overall verdict "gold"

As they say in the North, winter is coming, but for House Forrester, loyal bannermen to the Starks, it’s going to be the harshest and deadliest winter they have ever known. Beginning during a particular event that Game of Thrones fans will know very well, Iron From Ice, the first episode of Telltale’s new series, slides in flawlessly with the show’s canon. As with all Telltale’s games, you’re about to make shock decisions that are agonisingly cruel. Combine this cruelty with the merciless brutality of the Game of Thrones universe and you’ve got a video game made in the darkest depths of hell. Expect things to kick off immediately and in grand and bloody style.

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Iron From Ice is told from multiple points of view. You’ll swap between several members of House Forrester, each of whom will be located in a different part of Westeros. All your decisions will have potentially serious consequences for your point-of-view character, all those around you and the characters you will swap between. I would say make sure you think carefully about your decisions but there really isn’t time. You’ll need to process your situation and react quickly. Remember, this is Game of Thrones, A Song of Fire and Ice, George R.R. Martin’s masterpiece – your situation will be unfair and your choices unbearable. Imagine being asked to decide in five seconds whether to gut a puppy or cut off a kitten’s ears and if you don’t make the decision lickety-split a fluffy bunny will be dunked in boiling toffee. Rarely will a choice leave you feeling satisfied and comfortably pleased with yourself. If you’re anything like me you’ll be muttering ‘Damn, arse, bugger’ all the way through.

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Although you are playing with characters that only exist on the distant fringe of George R.R. Martin’s universe, you will meet with many of the main characters you know and hate. I won’t go into exactly who, but when the game’s main antagonist was introduced I felt a little sick. Out of all the characters, this is the one I would least like to meet in the darkness of the Wolfswood and would most like to shove under the Gatwick Express. Oh god, no. Tactics. I needed some, and I needed them quickly. Would aggression end in the slaughter of all my people? Would diplomacy even be recognised with someone like this?

My meeting with this character and some of the others started me wondering if I would play the game differently if I didn’t know them all so well. A fan knows which character is two-faced, who needs to be flattered and who can to some degree be trusted, and yet based on the choices I made, I’m not sure if had any advantage. God bless the unpredictability of Game of Thrones. It’s this that makes the books and TV show work so well, and it carries right over to the game. Throw all the tropes in the kitchen bin because nothing will ever go how you expect it to.

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Although Game of Thrones is entirely playable even if you haven’t got a clue who Hodor is and where to find a sword made from Valyrian steel, but I do fear many of the details will be lost on a rookie. It’s a complex universe and half the fun is the way all the characters and incidents are woven together to form a history that feels almost real. You don’t need to know intricate details about the Trident, the Kinglslayer, The Wall and Joffrey but knowledge of these things adds a bloody and brutal context to the events that unfold during the game.

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Graphically we’re looking at The Walking Dead quality. Very nice. Game of Thrones fans will be pleased at the awesome opening credits that look very much like the TV show’s opening animations. The voice acting is spot on (of course) and I found no bugs or framerate issues. As with Telltale’s other games, at the end of the episode you will presented with your main choices and the percentage of players who went the same way. You have eight juicy trophies you will automatically collect as you play the first episode, another forty to collect throughout the coming episodes and an easy platinum waiting at the end of it all.

Conclusion

Get out your blood pressure pills because Telltale have done it again. Iron From Ice, the first episode of their Game of Thrones series is packed full of tension, shocking brutality and antagonistic cruelty. Prepare to make the worst decisions of your life and love every moment of it.

S J Hollis Rating 9/10

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S J Hollis has been a keen gamer since the Atari 2600. She freely admits she thought E.T. was a good game but would like to stress her tastes have since dramatically improved. She is also an author, a morning person and thinks Elf ears are sexy. Follow her on twitter @SJHollis_