I’m not going to waste time adding to the already uproarious disdain for Game of Thrones season eight – I actually reckon my ambivalence towards it was rooted in a different reason to most people – but let’s just say it was unanimously disappointing, right? That Jon and Daenerys scene… rough.
Weirdly enough, I was always more excited about the possibility of season two of Telltale’s Game of Thrones than season seven or eight of HBO’s one. Season six was pretty good – we got The Battle of the Bastards – but Dan and Dave were always going to drop the ball as soon as they’d fully exhausted George RR Martin’s source material. Telltale, on the other hand, never needed said source material in the first place – it took the lore, parsed it, understood it, and said, “Okay, now let’s write our own story.”
A lot of people thought Telltale’s Game of Thrones was pretty average. Sure, it wasn’t The Walking Dead season one or The Wolf Among Us. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t excellent in its own right. This was a game that took beloved characters from the world’s most titanic series and integrated them into a whole new story as minor players with less than a handful of lines. Jon Snow, King in the North? Who’s that? Mate, we’re all about Gared Tuttle here, the crow from the ironwoods who’s off to find the North Grove.
Telltale’s Game of Thrones captured a lot of the same essence that invigorated early Game of Thrones. I’m not talking about season one or two, by the way. I’m on about seasons three and four, with The Red Wedding, The Purple Wedding – why do people continue to get married when everyone at weddings seemingly dies? – Tyrion’s trial, Oberyn vs The Mountain, Grenn and Pyp courageously taking on the giant in the tunnel to Castle Black. I almost teared up writing that last bit, because despite reading the books multiple times each, I’d honestly forgotten about it. Shit. Let me take a break for a minute.
Okay, I’m back. When Telltale wrote Game of Thrones, it took influence from these single standout moments – not the biggest battles or the wildest drama, but the evocative, slow-burning stuff. Ramsay killing Ethan wasn’t some sort of gory bloodfest so much as it was pure, quiet villainy. Asher Forrester’s return to Ironrath wasn’t greeted by a parade of jesters and trumpeteers – it was solemn, bleak, and ultimately bittersweet. That last episode cliffhanger after leaving one of the two eldest Forrester brothers to die was delivered with real elegance. It wasn’t so much a “tune in next week!” as it was, like… “Well, that was shit – do I want to know what happens next?” Of course you do. But it stings.
I’ve got George RR Martin’s autograph. Twice. I’ve got an edition of A Feast for Crows in the most gorgeous red slipcase you’ll ever see, and I’ve seen The Mountain and the Viper about 500 times. I love this series, this universe – but in the absence of The Winds of Winter, Telltale’s adaptation of its world was far superior to HBO post-season six. That’s before we even mention that season six had to do a whole lot of heavy lifting to redeem the atrocious season five, where still-alive-in-the-books Ser Barristan Selmy was killed off by a bunch of thugs so Grey Worm and Missandei could have their shite romance nobody cared about. Barristan Selmy, the one guy feared by both Ned Stark and Jaime Lannister – let’s have him wrecked by a dozen lads who are holding a dagger for the first time in their lives. If you’ve read the books, you’ll know what I’m on about – the Sons of the Harpy weren’t some kind of super organized rebel militia. They were a small legion of untrained idiots who’d fall on their own swords sooner than swing them.
I mean, I haven’t even mentioned Mira yet, the absolute best character in the whole game. While her brothers in Ironrath fumble over who’s supposed to be the next lord, Mira is off in King’s Landing executing political subterfuge as if she’s been nicked straight out of A Clash of Kings. Despite the Forresters only being a vague offhand mention in the books, this particular Forrester is one of the strongest characters to ever come from the entire A Song of Ice and Fire universe. It’s a desperate story of fear and loss, but also one that depicts real empowerment and ruthlessness. Mira Forrester could have absolutely ruined the Lannisters and I’m so upset she never got to meet a Stark.
Look, I know Telltale’s Game of Thrones wasn’t long for this world and can’t be developed now even if the original creators wanted it to be. I think that’s a real loss for fans of Westeros, though, and I hope that someday, somehow, someone will take it upon themselves to finish Mira’s story in the way that she deserves. Also we never got to see the Whitehills getting thrown in the bin. Come on, folks. Feed Gryff to Ramsay’s dogs. Cheers.
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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