Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series
This is an interesting game to review insofar as I really like it but the things I have to say about it will probably discourage people from getting it. In order to compensate for this eventuality I'm starting off with making it quite clear that I REALLY DO LIKE THIS GAME AND WOULD RECOMMEND IT.
So. Telltale Games make point-and-click adventure games based on existing creative properties and put an emphasis on storytelling and player choice. They release their games episodically. This is them trying their hand at adapting Game of Thrones, and have made it to their second episode.
The player is given command of various members of House Forrester of Ironrath, Stark bannermen who play a teensy little role in the novels and who have finally been given their hour in the limelight. Unfortunately this hour starts at the Red Wedding, which is the worst time to be minor Stark vassals. The playable characters will have to take various actions to ensure that House Forrester don't all get it in the neck. The family has one bargaining chip: the biggest grove of the invaluable Ironwood in Westeros and the knowledge to harvest it. However their ability to hold onto it is not guaranteed with the likes of Ramsay Snow and Cersei Lannister (all voiced by the TV cast) breathing down their necks.
The game manages the difficult job of taking these original characters who aren't terribly interesting and making you care what happens to them. However it is the depiction of the settings' established antagonists that the game excels in. Ramsay Snow's brief but explosive scene in Episode One is as good as anything that's been on the show. Never have I felt more afraid when making dialogue choices. In most games you can clearly tell what a given character wants to hear. Not so in this game: how do you sweet-talk a recreational torturer? Even the sane characters cannot be so easily predicted, creating a sense that you are speaking to actual (if one-dimensional) people rather than quirky quest-givers.
The dialogue choices are the real meat of the game, but there are other things to do, namely: walking, picking up items, and quick-time-events that can mean the difference between life and death. These are all terrible things. The controls are exceptionally stiff and at times confusing, and the camera lock does you no favours. It's tolerable to misclick on an item, but when your head gets chopped off and you need to listen to a minute's worth of dialogue again because you couldn't click on a sword in time, it won't do. Couple that with an atrocious user interface and you have something that's quite a hassle to play. In terms of sound and look it's best described as mostly functional: there are clearly a lot of texturing problems that are apparent even to I, and I am as casual as they come. Very annoying.
The game promises a very well-told and tense storyline, featuring a competent cast of characters, marred by poor technology and very silly design decisions and awful controls. I believe any A Song of Ice and Fire fan who avoids the game on account of its shortcomings will be missing out on excellent entertainment, but I'd understand why they may feel there's better stuff on the market for them.