Iron from Ice is the first episode of Telltale’s game based on the Game of Thrones universe created by George RR Martin. The series narrates the story of the Forrester noble House, Stark vassals who guard the precious ironwood, the hardiest wood of Westeros. After the dark events of the Red Wedding, they are threatened by their rivals and must deal with the new ruler of Winterfell, Lord Bolton.
The game switches points of view the way Martin’s novel does, and you will play as several characters, all trying to use the means at their disposal to save the family. The game follows the novel’s atmosphere well and the visual style of the series – you’ll come across Cersei, Margaery and Tyrion for example, and they have the appearance and voice of the actors of the television series.
The visual style of the game is similar to the one of other Telltale productions, which I liked. It’s a style reminiscent of comic books and at first I wondered if it would go well with the realistic and dark world of Martin. The answer is yes, and the expressions of the characters are very well rendered. The animations in the first episode are somewhat jerky and artificial at times, but it’s not something that detracts from the game.
In terms of plot, Martin universe is dark and the game reflects this aspect very well: the game starts with the horrific slaughter of the Red Wedding. Although the adventure of the Forresters takes place on the sidelines it is well integrated with the main events displayed in the series. The pace is very good and there is no downtime: one is immediately propelled into the story and brought via engaging choices to the impressive conclusion of the first episode. The choices are difficult to make and an apparently easy decision or idealistic promise shows it has complicated ramifications later on.
All Telltale games are based on the notion of choice. This is well suited to the world of Game of Thrones, but I would have liked to have sometimes more time to weigh my answers in a dialogue: the few seconds you are given to choose an option are insufficient for my taste and I once clicked on the wrong answer, stressed as I was by the timer. Similarly I’m not a big fan by the QTE (quick time events) that cause a stir which is a bit useless in my opinion, but admittedly keep us on edge.
As a conclusion, the first episode of the series is very good and I definitely recommend it to fans of Game of Thrones, including those who do not usually play computer games: the handling of controls is easy and the narration is captivating. If subsequent episodes are as dynamic as this one, it will be a great adventure.
Why play this game: for its atmosphere, to live a plot in the Game of Thrones world, for its difficult choices that have a visible impact, for the pleasure of annoying Cersei and countering the despicable Ramsay Snow.
Why not play this game: if you are looking for something other than an interactive story, for example an action game with a solid combat system.