Game of Thrones is back in people’s lives, albeit under a different guise.
The new series, House of the Dragon, may well be set in a different period, and it doesn’t draw inspiration from George R.R. Martin’s books, but it is very much a return to Westeros. It feels like the digital media we needed after the awful finale to the original Game of Thrones series, featuring characters we’ve heard about before and houses we know little about.
The Game of Thrones series finale was described as inexcusable by Collider, leaving fans hungry for something else to get stuck into. With Westeros seemingly in the distant past, that meant series such as The Last Kingdom, or even video games like The Witcher. Anything that felt a bit ‘like’ Game of Thrones became popular, even titles such as Slingo Fire and Ice, an online Slingo game from Gala Casino. It drew heavily on Game of Thrones for its inspiration, and whilst it was more a game of reels than thrones, it helped keep fans connected. The same went for mobile games, such as Game of Thrones Conquest, and some even revisited the Telltale Games episodic video game title, Game of Thrones.
With House of the Dragon starting the craze for Game of Thrones back up, fans of video games may well feel they want to visit Westeros again, not a game that feels a bit like the Seven Kingdoms. If that’s the case, then it’s time to dust off the PlayStation 4 and get stuck in. But is it worth it, or will a session on the series make you feel as empty as that final Game of Thrones episode?
The Telltale Games series featured six games that followed each other. They didn’t carry the characters from the show but were instead set alongside the show’s plot between series three and five. They follow the story of House Forrester, which does not appear in the television shows, but that does get a mention in the novel A Dance with Dragons. They hail from the north of Westeros and are reportedly powerful because they control Ironwood groves, which are important for military purposes.
Despite carrying the Game of Thrones branding, this game felt very much ‘like’ Game of Thrones. There were no playable characters who you’d recognize from the show, but you could control any one of five; Rodrik Forrester, Asher Forrester, Mira Forrester, Ethan Forrester and Gared Tuttle. You could see some of the show’s popular characters, including Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister and Margaery Tyrell.
Graphically, the game did fall short of expectations, and as you’d expect eight years later, it feels dated. The gameplay wasn’t as much of a disappointment as the final show of the television series, and the plots certainly felt very much like they’d come from George R.R. Martin’s pen. Ideally, you’d play all six concurrently, perhaps by picking up the complete series on hard copy, but you could also dip into the better titles as standalone experiences if you wish.
The series was a commercial success, with Episode Four, Sons of Winter, arguably the best of the six. A second season was planned, but in 2018 Telltale Games closed, and with it went the possibility of more games.
Is it worth picking up and playing? If you’re a Game of Thrones fan eager to build on House of the Dragon by finding digital media, then absolutely. However, if you played the games back in 2015 and feel like revisiting for nostalgia, it might be worth steering clear; they do feel like seven-year-old games, and whilst they’re dedicated Game of Thrones experiences, there are better games dealing with politics, medieval themes and even dragons.