Coming to journey’s end is never easy, especially after such a long one through the despairing toils of House Forrester. Would it all be worth it? With so many plotlines still unresolved and the fate of an entire house resting on the shoulders of it’s children, would Telltale be able to tie it together and deliver on almost a year of fighting and struggling through Westeros and beyond?
As Jon Snow spoke, there wasn’t a whole lot of ambiguity to how I was left; disappointed.
[EXPECT SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD]
It’s of no argument that Telltale have crafted a well written story. The series captured many of the nuances and intrigues of what has made Game of Thrones such a titan in fantasy. Several episodes in the series are gripping from the title sequence to the credits. The series is not without its faults but it delivered an experience in Westeros that rivals the hit show in many ways. However the world of George R.R Martin can only be relied on to a point and after that no amount of wights or Lannisters can stop a bad ending being a bad ending.
Whether you’ve played the first episode or followed it right through to the truly bitter end, you’ll be more than familiar with the near constant humiliation the Forresters have undergone to protect themselves and their home. No one who has read a page or watched an episode of Game of Thrones honestly expects a happy ending when things go wrong in Westeros, but that shouldn’t be the reason for keeping any moments of triumph so short, and dampened by almost immediate resurgences of new threats. The persistent notes of despair that rang through the series continue through to the end. If you came here looking for that last sally forth to spit in the face of the Whitehills, or discover the great secrets of the North Groove; you came to the wrong place. Telltale piles on the misery but doesn’t even truly commit to what could be a grim end that would rival the Starks, choosing instead to pull back and set up for a second series where things will really be resolved.
The final rally of the Forresters in ‘The Ice Dragon’ falls short of having a lot of meaning as there isn’t much of the existing plotlines resolved. There is still an ever present threat to House Forrester and unfortunately there is still that ever present air of desperation to succeed while so much crashes in around you. The latter half of the finale spends almost as much time setting the groundwork for what seems like a second series of episodes as it does trying to deliver on the momentum the series has built up to this point. There isn’t anything remarkable in how the finale is structured, it follows the same formula and rhythm of the previous five episodes and moves along at the same pace which wouldn’t be as disappointing if this wasn’t the apparent culmination of all the scheming and sacrifices I had made since I first took up a sword as Gared Tuttle in December of last year. The final episode was far too alike to the previous five and if there is one thing the series didn’t need, it was that. Spending the four months leading up to this wondering how House Forrester would prevail, a finale that hardly distinguished itself from the rest of the series was the last way I pictured it.
Tying all the remaining threads together in the last episode to try and grab a meaningful victory was certainly enjoyable to a point. Watching the fruit of my schemes pay off from Kings Landing to beyond The Wall build filled me with some hope that House Forrester would beat the odds, but that note of despair kept ringing, and with no accents of joy or reprisals of triumph to boost the spirits, I almost resigned myself to what next inventive horrible event would befall the Forresters. After six episodes of fighting and hoping for the moment I would get my own back, its more apparent now that the Forresters of Ironrath are more akin to punching bags than anything. I can’t muster the enthusiasm for a new slew of episodes because if this series is any kind of indicator, it’ll be more of the same through and through.
Its particularly disappointing that Telltale didn’t stick the landing of a series I held so highly, there were countless moments of genuine tension and embarrassingly sweaty palms while I schemed and fought all manners of evil. It wove its narrative impressively alongside that of the HBO series and often kept me more invested in the world of G.R.R Martin than the TV show did. Not to mention the unique and stunning visuals that awed me consistently from start to finish.
Telltale and Game of Thrones are perhaps best known for the feelings both good and bad they illicit from their fans, be it the tear jerking end to the first season of The Walking Dead or the infamously shocking Red Wedding respectively. But here I found that nearly entirely lacking. There wasn’t a great deal to sympathise or empathise with throughout (unless you’re a sucker for tragedy in which case; dig in). Ultimately I just felt let down as the likes of Daenarys Targaryan and Ramsay Bolton recounted my feats from each episode at the finale’s end, listening to the challenges the Forrester’s overcame and the people they impressed, and knowing there was nothing to truly show for it. It’s a small consolation to find myself among the 9.7% of players who fought with “unwavering conviction” right to the series’ end, its disappointing that Telltale didn’t approach the ending to such a promising series the same way
An unfortunately disappointing conclusion to what was a promising and well crafted story