With such a wait between each of Telltales’ episodic content releases, I’m often torn between frustration and excitement. In Telltale Games, we have one of the few, rare developers who don’t instantly ruin an established franchise as soon as they’re let loose upon it. Instead, they take their time, work to the series’ strengths and always attempt to emulate the experience of watching an episode. Can they continue upon their success of the first chapter and deliver the thrills once more in ‘The Lost Lords’?
Continuing on from the shockingly dramatic end of the previous episode, we’re thrown in once more with a mix of both new and returning characters. New to the table is Asher, a son of the Forrester’s, and Beskha, his dangerous and flirty mercenary partner. Aside from the ever present and ever irritating quick time event fight scenes of which you’ll no doubt enjoy, it’s business as usual. After you’ve muddled your way through the surprisingly well choreographed, yet frustratingly confusing, fight scene, it’s off to explore Telltale’s other avenues of gameplay, namely dialogue and a small amount of pottering.
Whereas the first episode clearly had its prerogative set to introducing the series’ characters, this second chapter can be now devoted to setting up and exploring the overarching plot that will run throughout the remaining episodes. Each character gets a significant portion of screen time to further engage in their plights; and scenarios that felt lacking from the first episode get a little more attention too. Gared Tuttle, for example, gets a few more deserved heavy hitting scenes, including one with the popular John Snow. Likewise, Mira Forrester, one of the weaker characters in episode one, save for the Cersei scene, feels a little more fleshed out; with her narrative becoming increasingly more standalone and unlike that of Sasha Stark’s.
Along with the tense, if not occasionally slightly ambiguous conversational choices, the timer returns once again to pile on the pressure to either blurt something out or hold your tongue. Whilst some decisions from the previous episode already seem to be making their mark, there are plenty others present in this one that’ll also have you fumbling for the ‘right answer’. After being sceptical about the timed choices before, in a game that doesn’t require you put over 60 hours into it, they can be a welcome addition. Instead of sitting back and having a good old think about what you’re going to say, you’re always on edge, forcibly listening to the dialogue and trying to anticipate the set of answers available. It tends to flow much more like a real conversation and makes situations mirror the source material more accurately.
Much like the previous chapter, you’re let out of the stressful conversational constraints once in a while to have a little wander. Unfortunately, much like the previous chapter, there’s not a lot of wandering to be done. Once again, you’ll get the opportunity to talk to a smattering of people and get to ‘investigate’ various objects of interest. Just because it resembles an old school point and click adventure however, don’t expect witty retorts and gainful insights from searching around. Despite what they could’ve been, the free sections feel more as though they were put there simply to spread out the pacing and freshen things up a little for the player; it would be nice to get a tad more meaningful freedom in the future.
As ever with Telltale games, it’s not so much about the fidelity, but rather the stylised picture as a whole; the brushstroke-esque filter works as well with scenic backdrops as it does with the individual characters faces. Unfortunately, as has been with the past few Telltale games, there are the odd few technical hiccups. Certainly not enough to ruin the game, but they’re on the rough side of noticeable; and as prominent as the art style is, if the game jutters, loses audio sync and struggles with the occasional timely button press, it’s more enough to take you out of the experience.
The Lost Lords is a solid, if not slightly safe, episode in the saga; it follows on well from the first chapter and impressively, improves upon some of the pacing aspects too. Both the good and bad things regarding this series so far, is that it is quintessentially a Telltale game. It brings all the things you love from the developers such as the difficult moral choices, the well thought out characters and the distinctive art styling. However, hand in hand, it also brings along QTE’s (sigh) and the odd bug too. There’s by no means anything particularly wrong with The Lost Lords, or the Game of Thrones adaptation as a whole in fact, it’s just you know exactly what you’re getting; meaning there’s no real innovation anymore, and that your enjoyment is reliant purely on the source material its based upon.