In Now Playing PC Gamer writers talk about the game currently dominating their spare time. Today, Andy tries to get on Cercei's good side, and eventually gives up looking for it.
Game of Thrones is a show I love, and the gaps between seasons are torture. So I thought I’d play Telltale’s episodic adventure to tide me over. The show both entertains and stresses me, and the game is giving me the same feeling. This knife-edge tension is particularly sharp whenever the cruel, calculating Cersei Lannister is involved. She’s the mother of Joffrey, ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and one of the most hateful, evil, punchable characters in the history of fiction.
About an hour in I find myself in the great hall of the Red Keep, face to face with her, the famous Iron Throne looming in the background. I’m Mira Forrester, handmaiden to queen-to-be Margaery Tyrell. Since I come from the North, and from a house loyal to Lannister rivals the Starks, the Queen Regent has taken a special dislike to me. I have to prove to her that the Forresters will remain loyal to the crown, and swear fealty to the Boltons, the new wardens of the North.
I’ve watched the show enough to know what Cersei is like, and I feel genuine trepidation as I slowly approach the throne to defend myself. It’s all a game for her, and a way to get at Margaery, who I’ve become friends with. I mean less than nothing to her, and with a wave of her hand she can have me kicked out of King’s Landing. Or worse.
Watching this kind of scene on TV is stressful enough, but now I’m actually there, and I have to decide what to say. I actually feel a bit scared as Cersei gives me her trademark look of disdain. The character models are stylised and cartoonish, but her poisonous scowl is just as malevolent.
I’m not sure if what I say will have any real impact on the story. It often doesn’t in Telltale games. But I’ve successfully suspended my disbelief—a requirement to enjoy these games fully—and I feel the weight of my words. Mira knows the Starks were betrayed by the Lannisters, and that the Boltons are bad news, but saying so is a death sentence. So she has to keep her emotions bottled. I know that anything that reflects badly on me could harm Margaery’s reputation too.
The ensuing conversation is almost palpably tense, although Tyrion, who sits alongside Cersei and, naturally, swigs from a goblet of wine, provides some light relief with a few barbed comments. I say exactly what the Queen Regent wants me to say, but she sees through the act. She’s pleased that I’m showing her courtesy, but I can sense that she knows I’m feigning loyalty to her idiot son. Saying the wrong thing to the wrong person in King’s Landing can have grave consequences.
It’s a wonderfully scripted scene, and Lena Headey’s voice performance is as quietly monstrous as it is on the show. As much as I enjoyed The Walking Dead, I find myself a lot more absorbed in Game of Thrones’ story and characters. I thought the appearance of familiar faces from the show was a gimmick, but they used Cersei brilliantly here. They play on your knowledge of the character from the TV series to increase the tension. It’s manipulative, but it works.
I’ve only finished the first episode, but I’m already hooked. It’s largely just people talking in medieval halls, but that’s all it needs to be. The action scenes in the show are great, but it’s the interactions between the characters that I love, and Telltale has done a great job translating them to a videogame. The character models have a fraction of the nuance of real actors, which holds it back, but the feeling that things could go horribly wrong at any moment is just as strong.