Oh it's been a while TellTale, but I welcome you back into the Seven Kingdoms, with your second episode of the epic Game of Thrones series as a sign of loyalty to my reign. Yes, the second episode of the twisting and turning, branching point and click game set in the fantasy world of Westeros, has at last graced our gaming screens, to once again thrust us into the brutal and vicious politics of a land ravaged by war. Sounds like fun!
Based on the hit HBO TV show Game of Thrones, and the best-selling book series A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones: The Lost Lords picks up a few days after the events of the first episode, with you, the player having to deal with the consequences of the choices you made. Following the tragic lives of Northern family, House Forrester, the bannerman to House Glover and loyal to the recently disbanded House Stark, House Forrester have built their power and their livelihood upon the prosperous trade of ironwood. But, as war rages, the Forrester's way of life is soon put into danger. Everyone wants their ironwood, but no one wants a house disloyal to the king. This can only lead to conflict, as the house draw the perilous gaze of of the royal family. Together, House Forrester must find a way to protect their family, or lose it all.
If it all sounds very confusing, don't worry - you don't need to be a Game of Thrones nut to understand what's going on here (although, as with most stories, it'll probably help if you start from the beginning). This episode sees the introduction of several new characters. Ser Rodrik, the eldest son of House Forrester given up for dead at the battle of the Red Wedding, makes a lucky return to his home of Ironwrath, to take up his rightful place as lord. Ser Rodrik was an interesting and very likeable character, not to mention a little on the handsome side. Oh my. But, he has a lot to deal with upon returning home, not only that of his terrible battle wounds, but also the war that is slowly descending upon them. Talk about pressure!
House Whitehill, House Forrester's ongoing rival house, have an eye for the ironwood forest and far less qualms in selling themselves to the murderous House Bolton, the murderers of their previous Lords, the Starks. They aim to crush House Forrester and take the ironwood forest out from under their corpses, but for as long as Rodrik, Mira, Talia Forrester and Gared Tuttle breathe, this can not be allowed. Iron from Ice!
Not only do we meet the gallant Rodrik, we also meet the outcast brother of the family, Asher Forrester. Cast out of Westeros for falling in love with the Whitehill's daughter and nearly causing a war, Asher has been forbidden to return to the Seven Kingdoms, and lives a live of exile in the land of Essos, which Queen Daenerys conquers more and more of every day. Cheeky, crude and your classic loveable rascal, Asher is both formidable and hilarious, and offers a fantastic way for the player to explore Essos as we rarely have a chance to before. With such danger falling upon his house, Asher must return home to save the day - if he so chooses.
Because, of course, with many of TellTale Games' classics, Game of Thrones is a choice and decision based game, in which the narrative splits into different and unique paths depending on the choices you make in game. For example, deciding to kill or show mercy, one path could lead to another character swearing revenge, and the other could lead to the man you showed mercy repaying the favour. Or neither - TellTale Games is often criticised for their choices having a very minimal effect on the eventual outcome, providing instead, the illusion of choice. For example, they may offer a vast variety of choices, say 5, but only 1 out of those 5 will actually lead to a different event, while the 4 others are arguably the same. But, illusionary or not, the choice based game play is as involving and tense as ever, thoroughly absorbing you in the eventual outcomes.
One of the great things about Game of Thrones, is that it features characters seen in the TV show, with voices provided by the actual actors. Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion, and Kit Harrington, who plays Jon Snow, both star in Episode Two, and it's really great to see them taking part in the game. Not only is it an awesome feature, but for fans of the series, it really helps you fully lose yourself in the world of Westeros.
Episode Two, the Lost Lords, was a continuously entertaining episode following on from that set up from Episode One, Iron from Ice. It built well on what the first had begun, and continued on to further develop the story and impending danger around you, along with some choice character development and general narrative progression. Episode Two does not in any way fail the series, and only leads on to further success I'm sure we will see in the third episode. Let's hope the next one doesn't make me cry as much.