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Game of Thrones: Episode 6 - The Ice Dragon
Score: 65%
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Introduction:

Let me be upfront: Iíve been a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire for almost a decade now. Not once during reading have I ever wanted to abandon it. Despite all the horror, fear, and revulsion George R. R. Martin has inspired in me over the years, Iím still deeply invested in the world he has so painstakingly created and developed.

Who knows, maybe I was right: perhaps Game of Thrones is a good fit for Telltaleís particular brand of decision-based interactive storytelling Ė but you wouldnít know it, based on this opening salvo of episodes. Game of Thrones: Episode 6 Ė The Ice Dragon is a nihilistic, derivative, sad sack of a finale that spends half its running time showing you that your choices never mattered and the other half teasing a second season that it doesnít deserve.


Ironrath:

With one of the elder Forrester brothers put to the sword by Ludd Whitehill and his army of Bolton arsekissers, itís safe to say that the chance of peace between the two feuding Northern houses is remote at best. My remaining Forrester lord was presented with what appeared to be one final chance at ending the conflict and bloodshed. However, my experience with how this world works had me taking the most Machiavellian route. This led to an action sequence that probably would have shocked me if I had not seen the show. Instead, I was just shaking my head and allowing the same thought to do figure eights in my head. That thought was "been there, done that," and it lingered until it delivered its non-committal cliffhanger, which felt like the end credits to Inspector Gadget.


Kingís Landing:

Mira Forresterís story was, at first, the single most promising part of Game of Thrones. After all, Kingís Landing is where the game of thrones is played, and as a result, itís usually the site of the seriesí most interesting developments. So after six episodes of treading lightly, scheming with allies, feeling out unknowns, and playing politics, what does Miraís story amount to? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Regardless of your choices over the last five episodes, you were never in control and had absolutely no grasp on the situation. Turns out, someone has been plotting against our intrepid young handmaiden from the shadows, and is about to spring a trap. In the end, Mira is presented with a choice, one that might be difficult for some players, but was easy for me. Itís a very Game of Thrones choice, but not an original or interesting one. And both outcomes reinforce the notion that this entire storyline has no impact on the overall narrative.

North of the Wall:

"The North Grove must never be lost." Spoken by the doomed Lord Gregor Forrester in the beginning of Episode 1 Ė Iron From Ice, this phrase has been the driving mystery behind the adventures of Gared Tuttle, former Squire, former man of the Nightís Watch, and now a deserter who is in the process of losing all of his friends. Well, he finally reaches the North Grove in this episode. But why must it never be lost? Whatís so important about it? I donít know. Your guess is as good as mine. Itís clearly touched by some sort of magic, and it may be related to the new characters Gared and company stumble across. Garedís story includes a confrontation with some wights and another contrived choice, the importance of which is never explained. His story ends with yet another lead into the as-of-yet unannounced second season, and another stinging realization that the entire adventure was for nothing.

Valar Whatever:

My biggest problem with Telltaleís Game of Thrones adaptation is an ironic echo of my foremost grievance with The Walking Dead franchise: regardless of how likable the characters are, I canít be expected to care about them if their impending doom is painfully obvious. So when the credits rolled at the end of Game of Thrones: Episode 6 Ė The Ice Dragon, I made a sad discovery: I never cared about House Forrester. As much as I tried to convince myself that they werenít carbon copies of the Starks, the storytelling went so far out of its way to replicate the horrors that were visited upon the former Wardens of the North that it failed to make the Forresters more than a group of bland doppelgangers. And worse, this emotional gambit doesnít pay off: the pain caused by events like Eddard Starkís execution and the Red Wedding was offset by the birth of the dragons and the poisoning of King Joffrey. Not to mention the expanding focus on House Lannister, arguably the most fascinating and complex characters in the entire saga. They stand in contrast to House Whitehill, who are murderous assholes for literally no good reason.


Conclusion:

Game of Thrones is Telltaleís weakest game since Jurassic Park. Itís entirely possible that the writers found themselves limited by the source material, but the premise was flawed from the outset. Thereís a lot of shock value and over the top violence, but very little of it is in service to good drama, a commodity that is often plentiful in Telltale games. Fans of the books (and to a lesser extent, the show), know to expect tragedy and bloodshed, but also humor and humanity. But above all else, they expect things to actually happen. As all of these horrible things happen, there's a constant sense of motion, an inexorable pulse towards something. And at the end of each book or the end of each season is a maelstrom of competing emotions. Anger, satisfaction, mourning, vindictiveness. But here, at the end of Game of Thrones: Episode 6 - The Ice Dragon, I feel only one emotion: apathy.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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