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The studio that has created Iron from Ice is best known for story-driven, episodic adventures - their famous adaptation being of the “Walking Dead”, the graphic novel that went on to sell 20 million episodes and was nominated for countless Game of the Year awards. It makes sense, then, that they have turned their hands to another narrative-driven drama: Game of Thrones.
Taking place between season 3 and 4 of the TV show, Iron from Ice is the first official game to be based on Game of Thrones, the hugely successful fantasy-drama by HBO, based on the series of books by George R. R. Martin. The game sees you take the roles of three rotating characters associated with the House of Forrester - longtime bannermen to the House of Stark - Gared Tuttle, Ethan and Mira Forrester. As fans of the series know the universe is a cruel one where anyone can die. And here is no exception: Westeros is a cold, hard, gruesome place. And one where you will witness plenty of deaths by the episode’s close.
Here the focus is on the effects that a player’s choices have. The game is mostly set around cut scenes which require you to press a button to say a certain phrase, or move in a certain direction. There’s a countdown, and silence is also a valid option, though when an arrow is flying towards your head I propose you duck. The key highlight, I’m guessing, moving forwards, is seeing how the rotating characters respond to what each of them have done in previous episodes. There’s a moment in this episode where Gared can do something quite awful - and then a while later you can play as young lord Ethan as he deals with the consequences of that decision.
Although there’s lots to be loved here, the main enjoyment will be found by those who watch the TV show or read the books. Peter Dinklage reprises his role as Tyrion Lannister and Iwan Rheon appears as the delightfully evil Ramsay Snow. In this respect the episode does plenty of things right - it sets up a new world in a pre-existing series, with mostly new characters.
It taps into the right nuance of political overtones within the grit and death, and that’s something that should be lauded. It’s just a shame that it isn’t for everyone. Plenty will find this enjoyable if they’re interested in narrative-driven fantasy adventures, but they probably won’t understand the subtlety of the lore. Then again, it might just make them want to marathon the box set this Christmas - so maybe there’s something to be gained here after all.