It wasn’t long ago that developer Telltale Games announced a deal with George R. R. Martin’s camp to produce a choose-your-own-adventure game based around the author’s incredibly popular A Song of Ice and Fire series. The result is a six-episode experience which has just received its second instalment, dubbed Game of Thrones: Episode 2 – The Lost Lords.
Continuing the story of House Forrester, with a plot written exclusively for us gamers, Telltale’s version of Game of Thrones deals with strong themes such as grief, family, hardship and the need to stand up for one’s self. Through this, it has thus far provided an interesting campaign that will surely appeal to most fans of the source material. However, despite a strong start, the series has been brought back down to earth by a middling second episode.
When we met the Forrester family, its most powerful members were embattled in a fight for their lives against an unexpected ambush. The events that followed left its lord and patriarch dead, and its rightful successor gravely injured. This, along with a lack of confirmation pertaining to their fates, forced the house’s hand and made it take the extreme measure of electing its second in line as its new leader. That didn’t go as planned, though, because it wasn’t long before the young man was also brutally murdered at the hands of a fearless and intrusive enemy.
It’s following that unexpected assassination that Game of Thrones: Episode Two – The Lost Lords picks up, though it takes a bit before we return to the North and its Ironwood Forest. In fact, things begin across the sea, where exiled son Asher is in the midst of a hostage negotiation. Unbeknownst to him, however, his uncle is en route to not only take up arms in his defence, but also aid his return to Westeros – something that will seemingly be a huge part of future episodes.
The next hour and a half is spent bouncing from one Forrester family member (or aid) to another, over the course of seven chapters. You’ll play as Mira, who’s living in King’s Landing and must carefully choose whether to put pressure on allies in an attempt to aid her kind. On top of that, you’ll also play as Rodrik, the eldest son who’s returned home on board a carriage of the dead and must fight for his life. Then, in addition to Asher, there’s also Gared Tuttle, the family’s former squire who was sent to the Wall for committing murder.
Each character has an integral role to play here, and although one may be more entertaining and action-packed than another, that’s not to say that they are more vital. Really, one of the most interesting things about Telltale’s take on Game of Thrones is how well it unites these unique characters towards one incredibly-important cause. Fighting for the Forrester family — which is steadfast in its beliefs and rather unassuming in general — feels like the right thing to do, and you actually care about their plight, which is very important when it comes to a piece of interactive fiction such as this.
Things don’t begin at full speed, though, and it takes a while before The Lost Lords really finds any footing. Still, the good news is that it does so before it’s too late, and really picks up as it approaches its beautiful finale, which features a fantastic piece of original music. Uneven moments and occasional rough spots do take their toll on the experience, though, as is true of some questionable pacing.
Expectedly, The Lost Lords continues the use of Game of Thrones‘ impressive visual style, which incorporates beautifully painted artwork. However, while things generally look very nice, Telltale’s penchant for releasing games with bugs continues to mar the experience. As such, you can expect to see occasional visual oddities, some blurred background textures (which may have been intentional, despite looking odd) and lengthy frame freezes.
What really handicaps the Xbox One version of this episode, though, is an apparent save bug that has deleted quite a few players’ logged choices, leaving them with only the default selections to play with. We didn’t experience that first-hand, which was a welcomed change, but wanted to note it all the same. A patch is apparently in the works, but we don’t know when it will become available to the public.
Despite its issues, Game of Thrones: Episode Two – The Lost Lords is worth the investment, especially since it sets up what could be a great third act. That said, its focus on building towards the future leaves it feeling uninspired and keeps it from being overly immersive or thoroughly entertaining.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.
With The Lost Lords, Telltale has progressed its Game of Thrones storyline towards what could very well end up being a fantastic finish. However, its focus on plot progression has left this second episode feeling a bit uninspired.