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Video Game Review: Game of Thrones, Episode 4

May 27, 2015 | By Herija Green | comment on this post
Game of Thrones, Episode 4: Sons of Winter
The North remembers, Lord Whitehill…

Please note that since each episode of Game of Thrones features the same graphics engine and control setup, those elements will not be repeated in our reviews for the final five episodes. To read our thoughts on that, refer to our review of Iron from Ice.

One of our biggest points of discussion internally about TellTale’s Game of Thrones was that too much of it was shadowing what we’d seen in the show and not carving out its own niche. That seemed especially true with Gerard Tuttle, who’d essentially been Jon Snow 2.0 with his confrontational commander and issues with other crows. We’re happy to say then that things begin to branch out substantially in the fourth episode, Sons of Winter.

Let’s start with Gerard, who we find is reaping the consequences of his actions. While we like where this leads, the Night’s Watch comes off badly, unwilling to accept your independently supported claims of self defense and sentencing Gerard to death. He breaks out and heads north of the Wall, setting up a meeting with the free folk and one of several action-heavy sequences. It’s good that he has left Castle Black behind as it puts some narrative distance between Gerard and Jon.

Asher’s story also gains some steam as you meet Daenerys Targaryen, who seems more than a little skeptical that you’ve encountered Drogon. Her confrontational attitude doesn’t really fit the character Emilia Clarke plays on the HBO version, nor does she seem to play off your responses — she simply seems angry(ish) with Asher and company for reasons unknown. Ultimately, however, she agrees to help you if you help her take Mereen.

It proves to be a good piece of storytelling, giving some more back story for Beskha and deepening her relationship with Asher, and an even better bit of action. Given the limitations that are inherent with TellTale’s engine, the clandestine mission into Mereen might be the high point for action not just in Game of Thrones but all of TellTale’s other properties as well. It’s intense, exciting and very well done.

Back in King’s Landing, Mira continues to try to find help for her family while also steering clear of Margaery Tyrell, who’s still displeased with her handmaiden. Mira takes a backseat in Sons of Winter, at least when it comes to screen time, though you’re presented with some meaningful choices that figure to have significant ripple effects moving forward. Snooping about, learning secrets and using them for your benefit may not have the moment-to-moment excitement of the sword fights, but it’s a nice throwback to old-school adventure games.

Probably the most significant advancements come from Ironrath where, after three episodes of taking it on the chin from the Whitehills, Rodrik finally gets to start fighting back. Backed by members of House Glenmore, Rodrik is able to extricate Gryff from power — how much or little force you use to accomplish that is up to you (we opted for maximum bloodshed) — and in the process gets himself some leverage with the Whitehills, who still hold his little brother, Ryon.

This is played out in a meeting called by Lord Whitehill at Highpoint, which bears a strong resemblance to Walder Frey’s setup of Robb Stark at the Red Wedding. Here you’ll have to decide how best to use your newfound influence in a face-to-face confrontation with your tormentor.

It’d be an overstatement to suggest the tide has turned, but it’s refreshing to see the Forresters turn the tables, at least temporarily. The course for the game’s four storylines seems to be clarifying (though this being Game of Thrones you can never take anything for granted), and another surprising late-episode appearance has us excited for the upcoming Nest of Vipers.

OVERALL (4.5/5)

After having no recourse other than rolling with the punches for the first three episodes, Sons of Winter lets you extract some vengeance as House Forrester finally starts to level the playing field. Add that to some great action sequences and you’ve got the best episode to date.

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