James Stephanie Sterling
Game of Thrones – A Telltale Game Series Episode Two: The Lost Lords Review
Telltale’s contribution to the Game of Thrones universe finally comes into its own and provides exactly what was needed.
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Format: PC (reviewed), PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Released: February 3, 2014
Copy supplied by publisher
After a solid – if somewhat constrained – premiere episode, Telltale’s Game of Thrones unclips its wings and finally begins to showcase its true potential. The Lost Lords dispenses with the awkward “special guest star cameos” to focus on the series’ original characters, consummately framing the plight of the Forresters as a family as well as the individual dilemmas each of the house’s principal members find themselves in. Each of the game’s multiple perspectives has its own gripping story to tell, and while there aren’t any big twists or shocking revelations to watch out for, the consistency of the storytelling and characterization is impressively on track.
As our episode debuts, we get to meet the black sheep of the Forrester family, Asher, living the life of a sellsword in Yunkai. Asher’s reputation precedes him, given the multiple foreboding mentions in Iron From Ice, and while he’s not quite the furious asskicker I was expecting, he quickly becomes an affable figure, someone possessing a lot of the personality I found lamentably missing from the prior installment’s leads. Asher finds himself tasked with finding and leading an army back to Westeros, though to do so he must first avoid the wrath of the Lost Legion mercenaries. Light on plot at this point, Asher’s scenes are concerned more with action sequences, as the sellsword slices and dices his way through Targaryen-occupied Yunkai and heads out to Meereen. Asher’s current course sets him on the path to a Big Damn Heroes moment in later episodes – a moment that Telltale could easily toss us a curveball for – and I’m excited to see where his violent narrative takes us.
Gared Tuttle has made his way to Castle Black, having been sent there to “pay” for the killing of a Bolton soldier. His path is fairly reminiscent of Jon Snow’s story in A Game of Thrones, as he gets into a fight with a bully, crosses a salty master-at-arms, and struggles to accept his new brothers – something the Stark bastard himself makes mention of when he takes our protagonist atop the Wall. Yes, Kit Harington does a turn as everybody’s favorite bastard, pulling in a decent voiceover detail and instructing Gared in the ways of the Night’s Watch. At the very least, his appearance is not quite as blatantly shoehorned as Iron From Ice‘s, and the relationship between Tuttle and Snow makes for a subtle mirror to that of Snow and Jeor Mormont. Unlike with Asher, it’s somewhat unclear as to what Gared’s involvement in the overall story could be – he’s not a Forrester, his presence in the Night’s Watch does nothing immediate for Ironrath, and all he really does in this episode is a bit of weapons training and idle chit-chat. Gared’s scenes are entertaining, but so far they’re the weakest and least involving of the lot – it doesn’t help that Night’s Watch stuff has never really grabbed me in any major way.
King’s Landing is really starting to heat up, with Mira Forrester playing a dangerous political game. As the handmaiden is entreated to once again ask favors of Margaery Tyrell and forges an uneasy alliance with Tyrion Lannister in a bid to safeguard her family’s interests, what started as an excuse to cram in the faces most familiar to HBO viewers is beginning to unravel into the most engrossing plot of the game. Mira’s situation may not be the most outwardly confrontational for the most part, but any Ice and Fire fan knows how vicious a place King’s Landing can be, and it does not disappoint. Our adventure in the south concludes in a most unsettling manner, and promises to only get more intense.
Which brings us to Ironrath. Following the conclusion of Iron From Ice, the seat of Forrester power is in absolute disarray. Whitehill men roam the keep unchecked, and we find out that most of the friendly soldiers abandoned their posts in the fallout from Lord Ethan’s prickly encounter with Ramsay Snow. There’s a glimmer of hope, however, thanks to the arrival of a character I cannot discuss because I try to keep these episodic reviews completely spoiler free. That makes talking about the Ironrath scenes particularly difficult, since I now refuse to name a principle character who you probably already know about anyway, but I’m not willing to take the risk. Suffice to say, I am loving the sequences in Ironrath, as Lord Whitehill continues to be an effectively detestable dick of an antagonist, and Ironrath’s new leader has some touching moments that make him difficult to not root for.
The episode concludes with a sense that the shit is truly about the hit the fan, with a beautifully presented ending that perfectly encapsulates each playable protagonist in his or her predicament. Rather than rely on a shocker to keep me on tenterhooks, The Lost Lords deploys some good old fashioned pacing and a promising build toward something much, much bigger. Having finally unshackled itself – at least somewhat – from the licensed videogame millstone, Game of Thrones – A Telltale Game Series is displaying far greater creative freedom, and has swiftly become that much more enthralling as a result.
I’m still waiting for things to kick into high gear and truly take hold of me, but chapter two of House Forrester’s tale leaves me in no doubt that such a moment is coming.