By Eric Chetkauskas / December 3rd, 2015
|Title||Game of Thrones: Episode 4 – Sons of Winter
Game of Thrones: Episode 5 – A Nest of Vipers
Game of Thrones: Episode 6 – The Ice Dragon
|Release Dates||Episode 4: May 26, 2015
Episode 5: July 21, 2015
Episode 6: November 16, 2015
|Platform||PC, Mac, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iOS, Android|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Mature|
It’s been a long wait, but the final episode of Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series is finally out. I reviewed episodes 1 through 3 earlier this year, and will continue my thoughts on the remaining episodes below. While I still believe that this game would be difficult to get into for those who aren’t already fans of the series, the second half of the game sees the plot become more of an independent story than just an alternate view of events of the TV series. It does still take place during the fourth season, so expect spoilers for the TV show in the game, and while I will avoid revealing anything from the latter episodes in this review, the plot twists earlier in the game make discussing the story difficult. For the purposes of this review, I will assume you’ve played through the first three episodes of the game already. Consider this your warning to turn back if you wish to avoid spoilers.
To set the stage, the second half of Game of Thrones sees the various members of House Forrester spread out across the world trying to help their family as their homeland of Ironwrath is under occupation by their rival House, the Whitehills, by order of the Boltons–namely, Ramsey, which gives longtime fans an idea of how bad the situation really is. Asher, who is in Essos, goes to visit Danerys Targaryen to ask for her assistance. Mira, serving as handmaiden for Margaery Tyrell, navigates the tense political climate in King’s Landing while doing what she can to help. Gared Tuttle, the former squire of the late Lord Forrester, deserts his post in the Night’s Watch to set out in search of the North Grove. Back in Ironwrath, the current Lord, Rodrik, tries to protect his family as best he can without incurring the wrath of the Whitehills. The overall dynamic of the plot is the delicate balance between family, friends and the people in charge.
I guess I’m still not used to quick-time events being the main gameplay mechanic. In such a story-heavy game, they had a tendency to take me by surprise, which can be an issue when failure results in death. On top of that, they seemed to be a little more involved in the later episodes, as there are some intense battle scenes as well as some stealth sequences that could be difficult to get perfect on the first try.
As was the case in the first three episodes, it felt like your choices just didn’t matter. Most of the story seemed to be pre-scripted and the dialogue trees were insignificant and just a means to an end. Whether your conversation responses were confrontational, agreeing, or subversive only affected subsequent dialogue and not actual events. Of course, there were a few decisions that would have major implications in the story, and some of the major decisions you made in the early episodes began to pay off. But those instances were few and far between, as most of the story felt like you couldn’t have changed the outcome.
While the characters themselves were well crafted, a few of their story arcs fell flat. The significance of a major plot objective is never revealed, and a couple characters’ storylines seem to have been rendered moot by the end. The story has no ultimate conclusion and ends on sort of a cliffhanger, but it wasn’t powerful enough to leave you dying with anticipation for what happens next. A second season was recently announced, and I can only assume that the long delay between the releases of Episodes 5 and 6 was due the re-working of the script to make the ending more open-ended. It’s the only explanation I can imagine for leaving certain pieces out from a plot that should have been resolved.
I thought the inclusion of some of the series’ established characters was a benefit for the earlier episodes, but as the Forresters and their friends (and enemies) became more fleshed-out as the season went on, they seemed to be more in the way. Continued interference from Ramsey Snow disrupted an engaging plot arc, and Cersei’s appearance was either too brief to have an impact, or completely useless, depending on how you wanted to play it. Tyrion showing up in Episode 5, considering the predicament he’s in, seemed like nothing more than a way to force either the character or the actor back into the game.
I said the first three episodes each took a non-specific “couple of hours,” but these last three seemed closer to the three hour mark–particularly Episodes 4 and 5–though the extended time could just be due to my incompetence at quick-time events. I still won’t recommend the game for newcomers to the franchise, but I won’t say it’s something to avoid either. It would definitely be more enjoyable for fans, however, and I do recommend it if you are. The voice acting is solid, and the story is filled with intricate details that, despite it’s unsatisfying resolution, really does make you feel like you’re in the Game of Thrones universe. Like the TV series, there are twists and betrayals worthy of the name Game of Thrones. Unlike the TV series, however, there may actually be a character you’re fond of who isn’t horrifically killed off. Then again, there’s always Season 2.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. The complete season of Game of Thrones is available on Steam for $29.99.
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