“… OR YOU DIE”
The season finale to Telltale Games’ Game of Thrones may seem like culmination of all choices players have made in the past five episodes, but the biggest impacts to the world are primarily based on the decisions made in the last. While the story ends a little sooner for some of the Forrester bloodline, for better or worse, it is certainly not complete for the players who have followed these characters through a six episode season.
*For the purposes of remaining purely informative for the hesitant audience, this is a spoiler-free review of the sixth, and final, episode to Season One of Telltale’s Game of Thrones. Minor spoilers are ahead for previous episodes. For those who would like to see a more in-depth discussion of the game’s events, stay tuned to Middle of Nowhere Gaming for the final episode of the Game of Thrones Spoilercast.
It should come as no surprise that Telltale Games’ engine needs an overhaul. For those who expect to dive into this series without fear of eyeroll-inducing performance issues, it’s time to go play elsewhere. Lines are delivered before character models mouths move. Frame lags are aplenty as the game saves or loads a scene. Character animations are often confusing or just inconsistent. “I just pulled something off of the wall, and now she’s no longer holding it…”
The Ice Dragon holds no surprises in this regard, nor in the arena of its unpleasant visual design, for those who have read our previous reviews of this series. I will admit that by this last episode, certain cinematic shots impressed more than a little. I sometimes found that I was ignoring the more unsavory elements of the tapestry art-style, and I almost understood why that design decision was made, though I still don’t completely agree with it. Like some other elements of this season, it took time to get used to, and it wasn’t wholly worth the endeavor.
Telltale’s Gameplay has never sat on The Iron Throne, and the Game of Thrones series is no different. Those anticipating much more than shallow dialogue trees and morally ambiguous choices will only leave disappointed with the experience. As a whole, this season holds true to what it advertises: a Telltale game series of Game of Thrones. It doesn’t attempt to break any molds, but much like its source material, it can still surprise and captivate.
From the beginning of the season, it was completely unclear how the Forresters’ stories would coalesce, from Mira’s play of the game in King’s Landing, to Gared’s trek north of The Wall. Significant headway is made in each surviving Forrester’s plot line in The Ice Dragon, far more so than in any previous episode. Intense battles are fought through guile, treachery, and the occasional sword through the throat. Each character seems to progress, and some difficult decisions appear to significantly affect the outcome of each of their stories.
Still, in some ways, the season ends much the same as it started, more than hinting at a continuation to the Forresters’ struggles in following seasons to come. Where some may have expected a sense of closure to this offshoot of the HBO television series, there is virtually none for those characters who remain in the finale.
That being said, depending on the choices you have made for each character, there may not be many Forresters left by the time the credits roll. Although two of the five playable characters must die through the events of the season, players get some real sense of control over every other fate. By the last few minutes of The Ice Dragon, I felt genuine regret for how my favorite character’s story ended when another path might have been more opportune for that thread in a story that is certainly to follow Season One. It made me wonder just how much more was going on beneath the surface of my decisions throughout the entire season. Sadly, the truth is that the only decisions that mattered to the last episode are those made in the last episode.
The Verdict: 7.5 out of 10
The characters and the overall sense of storytelling is what continues to draw people to Telltale Games’ titles. While we can gripe about the quality of their games on many different levels, it’s hard to ignore that their strengths are settled in how to string a tale.
The ending to my playthrough was unsettling, but it also found a way to affect me, to make me want to turn back the clock to save a character from a terrible end. But I won’t do that. The way this season ended was genuine and brutal. Like the five episodes before it, The Ice Dragon echoed the Game of Thrones television series sometimes to a fault. This was an ending not unearned, but also not final by any stretch.
Read Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice Review here.
Read Game of Thrones: The Lost Lords Review here.
Read Game of Thrones: The Sword in the Darkness Review here.
Read Game of Thrones: Sons of Winter Review here.
Read Game of Thrones: A Nest of Vipers Review here.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.
Jordan Loeffler is Editor in Chief for MONG who drives a 2006 Pontiac Vibe with Minnesota license plates even though he lives in Portland, OR. She’s seafoam green, and she drives like a wave. You can also follow him on IGN and on Twitter.