Ok, in case it wasn’t obvious: spoiler warning. If you haven’t played episode one, Iron From Ice, then we’re about to ruin it for you with impunity. And consider yourself similarly warned for the remainder of Telltale’s spin on Game of Thrones’ world of politicking, parlays, and partial nudity.
So: Lord Forrester is dead, his heir is dead, the family’s one resource has fallen into enemy hands, and basically anyone who can help turn things around is either abroad, in servitude, or on the verge of death and in the back of a corpse wagon. Let’s start with that last one, because it introduces the fourth playable cast member to proceedings: please welcome Rodrik Forrester to the stage. Although bear with him, because his legs are broken and he’s only got half a face.
As anyone with Red Wedding experience will know, this is the consequence of being a Stark bannerman, and sadly there’s no time for convalescence. Thrust straight into the big chair, you as Rodrik must try to salvage your betrothal in order to rope in enough troops to fight back against the oppressive Whitehills. Ever tried wooing a noble lady while looking like the victim of an acid attack? Not easy.
Meanwhile Mira, who we met last episode, is still trying to pull some strings from King’s Landing, although the power of a handmaiden is somewhat limited. Possessing greater badass potential, and our fifth and final player character, is roguish warrior Asher. Across the Narrow Sea in Essos, it’s he who gets The Lost Lords off to a very violent start, and he who looks set to play the role of saviour down the line.
Why all the focus on story? Because mechanically there’s very little new to talk about. The QTEs and facial animations are still a bit ropey, the art style still feels a little too sanitised for the world it’s representing - although for some reason that does seem slightly less problematic this time out - and the majority of your key interactions boil down to dialogue choices.
It’s here that, as in episode one, Telltale is best capturing the spirit of the TV show. Almost all of the possible responses at crucial junctures are painted in shades of grey, and it’s difficult even in the aftermath to know if and how you could have handled things better. Rodrik’s meeting with his bride-to-be encapsulates this well, and there’s a choice involving Mira towards the climax that looks likely to come back to haunt no matter which option you plump for. (Also of note this time out is the appearance of one Jon Snow, although his famous line is nowhere to be heard. Know-nothing fool.)
The truth about this series is that if you like Telltale’s output you’ll enjoy it, although an enthusiasm for the source material certainly helps. Additionally if you’ve played the first episode you’ll likely continue, and as well you should. There isn’t quite a “WTF!” moment to rival that from the series debut, but there’s a couple that will have jaws loosening if not dropping. What this all equates to is a score precisely two percentage points lower but still extremely respectable, and anyone who dares disagree will be sent to the Wall.