Game of Thrones : A Telltale Games Series is the latest episodic adventure game from Telltale Games, delivered in six parts instead of the usual five. It is based on the HBO television show of the same name. George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels serve as the original source material for both.
Telltale’s Game of Thrones focuses on House Forrester, a minor clan that is mentioned briefly in Martin’s books but has not appeared in the show. The game is setprimarily during the fourth season of the TV series. Players take the roles of five different characters: Rodrik Forrester, Lord Forrester’s first-born son; Mira Forrester, the eldest daughter; Asher Forrester, the exiled second-born son; Ethan Forrester, the third-born son; and Gared Tuttle, squire to Lord Forrester.
Everything you’ve been fighting for up to this point is finally in front of you. The third episode of Telltale’s Game of Thrones will decide whether or not you get what you want, and whether or not you need to stop thinking and just start running.
The Sword in the Darkness does an excellent job of making tension, high-energy episode smack in the middle of a season. Episode Three never lets you catch your breath; each scene features major choices with consequences that ripple out to this chapter’s credits–characters will continue to harp on decisions made early in the episode–and hint at larger problems to come in following episodes.
Episode Three upset me in ways the first two episodes haven’t. It made me physically anxious. As someone who has read all the books in A Song of Ice and Fire and generally knows what’s coming in the television series, it’s fabulously disturbing to see Telltale’s characters get kicked around and have no idea how their story ends.
You will let a lot of people down in The Sword in the Darkness. Every plot-hinging choice leaves someone you love out in the cold, debating how much they can trust you. You must choose between family and best friends, mothers and sisters, the lady you’ve sworn to serve and the lord you’ve made a dubious pact with. Friendships and alliances are made at the expense of breaking others. Game of Thrones nails the sentiment that author George R. R. Martin hammers home across A Song of Ice and Fire: you can’t please everyone, and the second you displease someone, you better watch your back.You know what they say about live dragons…
The Sword in the Darkness brings plot threads that were left free-floating in Episode Two to their high points. Rodrik struggles to stand his ground against the cruel Whitehills while still treading carefully because the youngest Forrester, Ryon, remains the Whitehills’ captive. Half a world away, Asher and Beskha, joined by Malcolm, chase Daenerys Targaryen across the desert, searching for an army of sellswords to bring home to Ironrath. In King’s Landing, on the eve of the royal wedding, Mira must choose between waiting for Margaery Tyrell to have time to help her and seeking out her own, less favorable alliances. Gared, just as he’s settling into life with the Night’s Watch, is thrown a curve ball that proves he can’t escape his past.
It is in this episode that you finally see the fruits of your labor bloom; every big choice you’ve made in Episode One and Two catches up with you. Situations you tried to clean up, like the strange incidents with Mira and the coal boy or negotiating alliances with other northern houses, are proven to be un-cleanable. Everything you’ve worked for can be destroyed in seconds or made worse, depending on the people you side with.
There aren’t many combat sections in The Sword in the Darkness, as most of the episode is focused on verbally navigating situations and choosing the heinousness of the lies you tell. There is also not much time given to exploring environments, and in each segment when you get to poke around, you’re looking for something within a time limit. Twice I had to search for things–like a piece of paper or an escape route–while enemies were on the approach, leaving little room to look around. It’s a bit disappointing, as it takes away from the world feeling lived-in, with objectives in straight lines rather than allowing some wiggle room.And finally, Gared and his secret about the North Grove have been given more attention and care within the narrative. What was tossed around briefly in the last two episodes is finally in the spotlight and becomes a matter of grave importance very quickly. Just like the series it’s based on, Game of Thrones has taken something small and seemingly minor and ripped off the curtain to reveal it as the most important thing you know.Standoff at Ironrath.
Game of Thrones’ third episode succeeds in making you feel like the rest of the season is hinging on the decisions you make. It marks the narrative apex so far, the highest dramatic climax, with its barrage of tough choices in rapid succession. You can’t help but feel bad for these characters; it looks like there’s no way for them to win. If you’ve been playing it safe up to this point, deferring to answers that keep the characters safe and relatively benign, you’re in for a rude awakening. Episode Three marks the beginning of the end for neutrality. There are tough decisions to make and no way around them, making this episode true to the Game of Thrones atmosphere at its core.