A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Game of Thrones is a downloadable dialogue-driven adventure game based on the HBO TV show and George R. R. Martin's fantasy books. Its tone is bleak and dark, with instances of shocking violence -- including the gruesome deaths of important characters -- and an overall atmosphere of cruelty and ambition triumphing over understanding and justice. Most characters are gray rather than black-and-white good or evil, and at almost every turn players are faced with difficult choices where there's no clear "right" or moral response. Dialogue includes frequent and strong profanity ranging from "f--k" to "c--t," and characters can be seen drinking wine in several scenes. While the first episode doesn't feature sexual content, it's expected that future episodes will probably feature this content during the story.
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What's it about?
A parallel story to events unfolding in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novels and HBO's adapted TV show, GAME OF THRONES is a six-part game series. It tells the story of House Forrester, a noble family responsible for harvesting the strongest wood in the kingdom and crafting it into sturdy shields and ships. When the house's lord and master perishes in battle, his responsibilities fall to his son, Ethan Forrester, who, along with his sister Mira and a grieving squire, comprise the three playable characters in the series' first episode. The three protagonists must deal with rival armies and lords while making political maneuvers to ensure the survival of their clan. Events from the larger Game of Thrones narrative affect the fortunes of House Forrester, with several familiar characters from the TV show -- including Queen Cersei, her brother Tyrion, and Ramsay Snow -- appearing in the game. Players spend the bulk of their time engaging other characters in dialogue, making choices that determine the future of House Forrester and the outcome of various events. These sometimes even affect whether characters live or die. Actions are largely limited to selecting responses in branching dialogue, though players will occasionally need to react to on-screen cues to avoid an attack or swing a sword in vicious fight scenes.
Is it any good?
There's little denying Game of Thrones captures the dark and very adult vibe of Martin's fantasy epic. The land of Westeros is depicted as a cruel and unforgiving place where oppressors seem unstoppable and good people die shocking, gruesome deaths. Children are forced to become adults much sooner than they're ready, and honest men and women must compromise their principles for the greater good. If you don't come away from the game at least a little depressed, you probably ought to check yourself for a pulse.
But, although Game of Thrones is a finely crafted adventure game with great writing and interesting characters, it may seem overly familiar to some. In its bid to capture an authentic Game of Thrones vibe, developer Telltale Games (The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us) has erred too much on the side of emulation, very nearly copying parts of Martin's original story. It's most noticeable in the Forrester family, which feels eerily like the famous Stark clan from Martin's tale. For instance, the clan has a dead father, a child pushed into a leadership role, a daughter away in King's Landing, a mother trying to exercise her will behind the scenes, and a loyal servant serving as a ranger at the great Wall in the North. The Forresters are an interesting family worth caring about, and there are still plenty of twists that are shocking by their very nature, but we might have hoped for something a bit more original from the acclaimed storytellers at Telltale Games.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in games. Why do you think our reactions are stronger when a main character (as opposed to a minor one) gets injured or dies? Why is violence more affecting when it happens unexpectedly?
Have you ever been faced with a dilemma for which there was no easy answer, wherein, regardless of your decision, someone would be hurt or feel bad? How did you handle it? Do you think you did the best you could, given your choices?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Release date: December 2, 2014
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters
- ESRB rating: M for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Sexual Content
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.