Game of Thrones: Episode Two – The Lost Lords
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Genre: Interactive Drama
Release Date: 02/03/2015
(Note: This review will contain bits that are copied verbatim from my review of Episode One. While the story for each episode may be different, the graphics, sound, and gameplay remain largely the same. Old stuff will be in italics. Feel free to skip them if you wish.)
Somehow or another, we’re getting the second episode of GoT before we get the second episode of Borderlands. That doesn’t inspire much confidence in the timeliness of the latter series, but it’s great news for fans of the former.
Last time, we got our introduction to House Forrester. We got to send a squire to the wall, scored an intense interview with Cersei, and built up young Ethan only to watch Ramsay Snow put a blade through his throat. Things were not looking good for the family to say the least.
For this episode, we still follow the exploits of Mira and Gared. However, two new POV characters get screen time as well. One of them, Asher, was expected. The second son of Lord Forrester, he found himself exiled and working as a sellsword across the sea. In episode one, his uncle was dispatched to retrieve him. This episode serves as his introduction. His scenes are where most of the quick time events take place as well.
The other new character is Rodrik. Apparently only mostly dead, he finds himself nearly crippled as he takes Ethan’s place as lord. There’s good and bad here. It’s kind of silly that they have you go through the same motions again. You have to decide what kind of leader Rodrik is. You can bend the knee or stand (on one good leg) in defiance. It’s the same thing the first episode did with Ethan. The good news is that Rodrik at least has some more interesting social dynamics to consider. The part where you have to try and convince his betrothed to not call of the wedding is interesting indeed.
Overall, much of the story is placeholder it seems. We’re still being introduced to things in snippets. Gared meets his new brothers in the Night’s Watch, Mira learns something new about her fellow handmaiden, and Asher kills a bunch of people because that’s what Asher does. Still, the interactions are interesting, and there are enough big moments to keep the intrigue going on through the next episode. We’re only a thrid of the way through the season, after all. They can’t have all of the big stuff happen yet.
Now comes the bad news. This game is perhaps the least graphically refined TT game since Jurassic Park. It’s probably even worse than that. The textures are horrible. In motion, they often resemble smeared water colors. Character models don’t fare much better. They animate poorly, look plastic, and often have parts of their bodies bleed into the background. Add in the usual clipping issues, framerate drops, and constant pausing for loading/saving/trophy notification, and this game simply runs horribly. The art style is strong though. It manages to salvage some pleasurable visual moments. Still, this game simply wasn’t optimized for the PS3. It’s almost unplayable at times.
Using the show’s music and actors, the game does quite well in the aural department. Peter Dinklage sounds much more lively then he did in Destiny. The new cast does quite well also, and the accents don’t become overbearing. It’s pretty high quality stuff all around, although problems arise because of the game’s technical limitations. In particular, characters will be cut off mid sentence. I suggest playing with the subtitles on, so you don’t miss anything important.
GoT doesn’t break the TT mold when it comes to the gameplay. For the most part, the game is on rails and simply asks you to make a selection now and again. Most of your choices have little effect on the game, but allow you to add your own personal flare to the proceedings. For example, you can play Ethan as a scared young man, or as mouthy brat. It’s up to you. Silence is always an option as well, but rarely leads to more interesting bits of dialogue. Either way, the meat of the story will play out the same no matter what you do.
Occasionally, you will be allowed to wander around and explore a bit. Compared to other TT games, you get to do more of this than usual. These areas aren’t very large, but there are often fun bits of lore that you can uncover. For example, you can go over the entire Forrester family by looking at a family portrait. This gives you an idea of who everyone is as well as your characters thoughts on them. Stuff like that is always appreciated.
As you might expect, you’ll end up in some big action sequences throughout the game. When these pop up, it’s all about the quick time event. You’ll flick the stick, mash on buttons, and try to react as quickly as possible while a scene plays out. Failure doesn’t always result in death, but too many mistakes will send you back a bit to try again. Like in previous games, these QTE’s are getting less intrusive. The inputs are smaller or more out of the way. This lets you see the action better without not being able to see what you need to do.
Episode two is a solid continuation of the tale from a story standpoint. However, the technical issues that bogged the first episode are even worse in this one. The game simply doesn’t run well, and the graphics drop in quality at every turn. I watched character models turn into blurred pixel messes once every couple of minutes. It’s distracting, and the constant hiccups make the game a chore to play for long stretches. That’s bad enough, but the episode only takes a couple of hours to go through in the first place!
Short Attention Span Summary
If you liked the first episode, you’ll enjoy the second. From a story standpoint, things are moving forward. It might be slower than we’d like, but at least it’s still interesting. The technical problems are still at large though. It’s not easy on the eyes, it pauses constantly, and you’ll even lose bits of audio here and there. As long as the story holds up, it’ll be worth the trouble. For now I can still recommend this game.