Game of Thrones: Episode 6 – The Ice Dragon
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Genre: Interactive Drama
Release Date: 11/17/2015
Ok. We’re going to do things a bit differently this time around.
Typically, I’d start this review with a disclaimer about how I was going to copy and past some of this material from my original review of the first episode. I won’t do that. It’s true that the basic mechanics and like are pretty much the same, but there’s no need to rehash it. Everything in this review will be new, and I simply won’t talk about things like how the game controls or what the QTEs are like. If you want, click this link to read my first review. It will tell you all that. As for this review, I intend to rant. This was not a review copy. I spent my own hard earned money on this game and played each episode the day they came out in order to get the review up as soon as possible. I did this instead of doing other things I wanted to do, and after getting home from my day job. This was my choice. I understand that. However, it’s important for you to know these things before reading on and assuming I’m saying these things just because I can. I promise you. This is one-hundred percent genuine spite.
This entire season has been a complete mess. Let’s ignore, for a moment, the fact that not a single episode has run even remotely smooth from start to finish. Let’s skip past the horrendous art style that looks as if someone left a bad watercolor painting out in the rain. Let’s just focus on the story for a bit.
The problem with a game like this is that they always intended to make a second season. That means they have zero incentive to actually try and resolve anything. Sure. Perhaps some characters will have finality in the form of death, but the major plot points will go unresolved. That’s exactly what happened here. We finally reach the north grove only to discover pretty much nothing about it. We finally get the big battle between the Forresters and the Whitehills only for it to end while we’re away. Mira’s story just kind of ends. There are a handful of big decisions to make, and you might feel the consequences of those actions to a certain degree. However, it all boils down to the developers pushing a second season down our throats without giving us any closure here. And the worst part is the episode ends with a disgusting voice over from the likes of Cersei and Ramsay Snow. It’s a pitiful reminder that, no matter how much you agonized over key decisions and deaths, all of this is nothing more than an amusing anecdote told at the tables of those “real” GoT characters.
It’s not that I wanted a happy ending. We’ve known all along that kind of thing isn’t GoT’s style. We’ve even been prepared for it by the first two seasons of TWD. But even that dismal series has some kind of closure to it. Even if we weren’t going to see exactly where things ended up, the final moments truly felt final. This game just rides that same depressing note it’s been going on all season until it kind of trails off and tries to run the credits. Oh yeah. The game glitched out during the credits. It was odd. Anyway, almost nothing gets resolved. Whether you chose Asher or Rodrick to live at the end of episode five, they’re going to end up the same way at the end of this episode. Gared’s journey is laughable in its futility. If any of it is ever going to matter, it will do so down the line in another season. Nothing he does past episode one has any effect whatsoever on the other characters. It’s pointless. As for Mira, you’re given two awful choices at the end, and nothing you’ve done up to that point ends up mattering at all. All roads lead to the same “conclusion”. Her story, much like Gared’s, ended up as a meaningless bunch of crap. It was just a way to get the King’s Landing characters from the show a chance to make cameos in this game.
When the episode started, I actually felt encouraged. Interesting things were happening and the game was holding up well for once. About halfway in, it all fell apart. A couple of battle scenes started slogging, and then I ended up wading through five minutes of the worst performing game I’ve ever seen. The screen constantly froze, the audio fell behind, the audio skipped liked a scratched CD, the audio disappeared, button inputs appeared too late, button inputs did nothing, etc. This was supposed to be the big climactic fight in the game. It had scale, brutal deaths, important decisions, and everything. However, it ran so damned poorly that I felt robbed of any kind of emotional impact. It’s hard to care about a loved one dying in a game when their final words come ten seconds later and sound like they’ve been through a washing machine. This episode came out four entire months after the previous one. To put that in perspective, the first five episodes all came out in a eight month period. In the time between episode five and six, two episodes each of Borderlands and Minecraft were released. There is no damned excuse for why Telltale dropped this buggy, god awful mess on a waiting audience. It’s just a kick to the nuts.
Short Attention Span Summary
In the end, a kick to the nuts is what this entire season has been. It’s been five straight episodes of build up only to lead up to a final episode that builds up to the first episode of the next season. Even then, it’s made abundantly clear that everything that happens in this game is just a footnote in the overall GoT story. There’s no reason to give a damn. Even if you cared about the plight of the Forresters, you won’t after this. They’re not underdogs. They’re doormats. And that’s exactly the way Telltale is treating anyone who plays this series. I will not be covering the second season when it inevitably comes out. You’ll have to fend for yourselves on that one.