Game of Thrones – A Telltale Game Series: Sons of Winter
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Release Date: May 27, 2015
Price: $4.99 – Available Here
Fans of Game of Thrones have always known how long events can take to unfold and have waited patiently for years as George R.R. Martin slowly continues the story and even the television series has felt drawn out at times. As such it came as no surprise when Telltale announced that their Game of Thrones adaptation would run six episodes instead of the usual five. So now that the fourth episode, Sons of Winter, has brought us past the halfway point, will House Forrester’s story begin to pick up pace?
It is worth noting that while we will be attempting to remain vague about certain plot heavy events that occur in this episode, that we will be discussing previous events in the review. As such, if you have yet to finish the last chapter, The Sword in the Darkness, then it is best if you do so before continuing on. That being said, when we last left the members of House Forrester it seemed that events were being put into motion that would help the struggling members try and overcome the harsh obstacles in their way.
Last episode we saw Gared Tuttle in hot water after coming face to face with one of the men responsible for his family’s death. At the start of Sons of Winter Gared has to deal with the consequences of his actions and unfortunately there is very little the player can actually do in this regard. Despite potentially having a friend vouch for your story and trying to plead your case, the story forces Gared to be sentenced by Frostfinger no matter what happens, spurring Gared into finally taking action and pursuing the North Grove, eventually putting him face to face with a number of Wildlings that aren’t keen on finding rangers in the forest but also meeting with someone who may be willing to help.
Across the Narrow Sea we find Asher coming face to face with Daenerys Targaryen as he continues to try and find soldiers to help House Forrester. Unfortunately his meeting with Daenerys is one of the oddest feeling moments in the game thanks to Telltale’s writers making her act out of character and far less reasonable than usual as Asher has no choice but to place himself, and Beskha, in harm’s way by helping with the infiltration of Meereen.
You see, despite the fact that Daenerys’ personality was handled poorly in his storyline; Asher has actually been given the most interesting aspect of the episode due to his interactions with Beskha. Learning about parts of Beskha’s emotional past and dealing with how she acts in this episode makes the player question just how they should handle Asher’s ally. Do you place your loyalty on a family that banished you or stand up for your close friend? Or is a steady hand the exact thing that Beskha needs right now? Those are the types of questions players will be thinking of as they handle Asher’s action heavy section of the story.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mira is finding herself with few allies left in King’s Landing as Margaery grows increasingly angrier with her actions and is giving her very little leeway. As such it is up to Mira to take matters into her own hands and it is at this moment that the political maneuvering that often occurs at King’s Landing takes center stage. By eavesdropping and cautiously approaching those attending Tommen’s coronation feast players must carefully try and manipulate those around them and even put a friend’s chance at happiness at risk to get what they want. There are clearly a number of ways this sequence can unfold but considering how things played out for me, I felt a certain satisfaction with the outcome.
As for Rodrik, after potentially allowing himself to be humiliated by Gryff, finds himself with an opportunity to finally bring some stability to Ironrath and obtain some revenge in the process. Of course, even the smallest choices can have consequences, especially since it is hard to tell when to stop a certain event from continuing despite the satisfaction continuing might bring. Things grow tenser as Rodrik eventually visits the Whitehill’s home of Highpoint where gathering a bit of knowledge beforehand ends up being beneficial in the immediate future, especially since many signs of this meeting point towards a certain event that kicked off this season.
Similar to past episodes players will continue to make various dialogue decisions and take part in various quick time events to dodge or strike at opponents in combat. There are a few small sequences that can hardly be described as puzzles though I must say that using Mira’s cunning to gather information to sway those around her in a manner that the player chooses is handled surprisingly well.
It is worth noting that a few of the items that players may have gathered in past episodes can be used in Sons of Winter, though whether they actually have any real affect are not shown. Also worth mentioning is that while this episode ran smoothly for the most part, it did crash twice resulting in an immediate return to the Home screen.
Visuals & Audio
Following the same aesthetic from that Telltale has used in past episodes, the oil painting style remains throughout the episode though the blur in distant objects does seem to have gotten worse this time around. That being said, the actual character designs remain consistent and the appearance of a different dragon this time around matches perfectly with what fans of the series should be expecting.
As for the voice work, the voice acting still remains impressive with the core cast and although Daenerys’ role may not have been written in a manner that those who follow the series’ other formats will take kindly too, at least her voice actress reprises her role well.
With Sons of Winter, it is clear that the story is finally finding its grove and although Mira’s role this time is minimal, the cautious maneuvering and information acquisition feels right at home in the series while Asher’s action heavy sequence features some surprising developments and choices with a side-character that players have likely grown fond of by now. That being said, Gared’s part in Sons of Winter is minimal and although Rodrik’s clever decisions and attempts at planning appears to be putting House Forrester on solid footing for once, it lasts for only a moment before the appearance of a hated face brings this enjoyable episode to a cliffhanging end.
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