Game of Thrones Ep. 1 Iron from Ice Review – Only the Beginning

Telltale Games has released its first episode in a six-part series based on HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones. Fans of Telltale will recall that the developer knocked it out of the park with the first two seasons of The Walking Dead: The Game. Although the word “game” is a stretch; it’s more like the best Choose Your Own Adventure version in video game form. I absolutely mean that as a compliment.

Quick thing to know: while The Walking Dead started at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse (as did the comic, and AMC television program), Game of Thrones: Iron from Ice begins at the end of season three of the HBO show, so expect major spoilers if this is your first time visiting the world of Westeros.

All good? Okay, then, Winter is Coming and all that.


Meeting of Families

House Forrester. House Bolton. House Whitehill. Three families you probably have never heard of even if you are a fan of the show (they may be featured in the books, though). Regardless, the main focus in the first two tension-packed hours that make up episode one is the conflict between these houses.

You begin as pig farmer Gared, a young squire to the Lord of House Forrester. After a nasty set of events, Gared must make a dire decision in defense of his family. It doesn’t go well, and things only get worse from there—fans of the show should not be surprised by this. At any rate you return to House Forrester, but the Lord does not.

Taking place in the same timeline as the show, you’ll encounter major characters like Cersei Lannister, Lady Margaery, and for a moment, fan favorite Tyrion Lannister. Thankfully, the actors who play them in the series supply their voices, and likeness. Every performance is top notch. Everything feels spot-on with the look of world, which was first visualized on premium cable. The graphics of the game is very painterly sporting muted colors, and it works perfectly. There are a few technical glitches like stuttered character animations, but these issues are seldom encountered.

Every performance is top notch.

As for backstory, there’s a lot to read if you choose to check out in-menu codex. In a nutshell the Forresters live in Ironrath, and they’ve been loyal to the Starks for centuries. The Ironwood forest is unmatched in resources, so while the characters and situations are new to the world of Game of Thrones, their strategic importance becomes quite clear early on: they make the best weapons. As such, they have a huge supply of iron and wood.


Gameplay isn’t the Highlight

The gameplay is primarily focused on having players make decisions quickly with three dialogue options. Though, if you don’t answer in the allotted five-second time limit your silence will become a fourth response. Like all Telltale games there are a few physical battles tossed in. This usually means moving the left stick quickly to avoid attackers or hitting A to push off a sword-wielding thug. But that has never been the real reason to play a Telltale game. The key to really enjoying this episode is the aforementioned dialogue exchanges. I’ve never been as big of a Game of Thrones fan as my friends, but I must say, being thrust into the position of a Lord who has to settle a dispute between the Forresters and the arrogant Boltons is thrilling. Ethan, a young boy who is suddenly made Lord is like the anti-Joffery. Several times, I really wanted to get cocky and go off on the jerks that hurt my other self’s family (Gared), but I maintained a regal tone to the meeting. I think I did quite well.

Finally, the third and final character you play in episode 1 is Mira, a Forrester daughter who is at present a handmaiden for Lady Margery at King’s Landing. Mira’s sections feel the most like fan service since that’s where you’ll deal with many familiar faces. At one point Tyrion jokes that Mira is the “most dangerous handmaiden in all of King’s Landing.” Well, I’m gonna take that challenge, thank you very much.

…it feels more like a prologue than a fully formed episode.

At a scant two hours, even at an affordable five dollars, my biggest criticism is that it feels more like a prologue than a fully formed episode. As if to show that I was right to feel this way, the words “your journey begins” come up at the end.



After a little over two hours, the first installment ended in typical Game of Thrones fashion, which means with a pretty shocking twist. How shocking? Well, the game starts during the Red Wedding, and in many ways, that was just a warm-up for the emotional hand ringing that I endured by the game’s end. This is an episode true to the spirit of Game of Thrones. Which is to say, I’m ready to go for Episode 2.

Final Note: This review was based on a single play through on the Xbox One. While the major story beats don’t usually change in Telltale games, there are several ways things might have played out differently. Hence, I am curious about giving episode one a replay.

Peter Paras is a Contributor for CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @pajamo.

Copy not provided by publisher. Game of Thrones Ep. 1 Iron from Ice is available on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.