Telltale’s Game of Thrones Episode Three: ‘The Sword In The Darkness’ Review

“Whatever tomorrow brings, the Forresters will stand tall”

We may have only hit the mid-point in Telltale’s Game of Thrones series, yet plot strands have already descended into tedium, with many scenarios suffering from a sense of overbearing familiarity especially if you are an existing fan of the show. Make no mistake, this is an extremely flat episode with few memorable scenes and little character development for much of the cast. It’s a very disappointing instalment in what has been otherwise a pretty solid series.

Perhaps my biggest annoyance with this episode is how the Forresters getting tormented by the Whitehills in their own settlement of Ironrath is getting very tired now. We’ve had 3 episodes of this humiliation and it doesn’t seem like it will end soon with Rodrik still not fully recovered from his grievous injuries. The scenes are certainly effective in what they attempt to convey to the player, you’re helpless as Rodrik in this position and often have to accept deep personal humiliation in order to keep your family out of harm’s way. But the problem is that we’ve already experienced scenes like this in the previous episode. Consequently additional scenes revolving around this conflict feel blunt in their impact, the situation has remained the same despite the decisions we’ve made earlier.

Things don’t improve with regards to Asher’s story either, he gets another brief story arc where he deals with the presence of one of Dany’s dragons and the chaos that surrounds the fallout of such a meeting. But again, it doesn’t feel like he’s gained any meaningful character development at all, with Asher scenes devolve into QTE action-fests which can liven up the pace at times, but if he’s given no big decisions to make, then there’s no real intrigue to the character.

Gared meanwhile is still stuck at The Wall but he’s at least given some direction with regards to his overall purpose for the rest of the series, he’s the one who must locate the fabled North Grove which may hold the key to save House Forrester from their enemies. Only issue is how he gets there, since it’s supposed to reside far beyond the north of The Wall. The big conflict is already been brought to the surface then, to find the North Grove, Gared must forsake his vow to the Night’s Watch. This is all well and good but it doesn’t hide the fact that Gared’s scenes in this episode are still weak, Telltale devoting their focus to a confrontation with the leader of the attack on his family who has conveniently just turned up here as a new recruit to the Night’s Watch. Hence, Gared’s role in this series may have been made clear, however the real excitement concerning the mystery of the North Grove has been saved for a later episode, rendering his scenes at The Wall inconsequential in comparison.

As has been the case throughout the series, Mira Forrester’s story arc remains the strongest in episode 3 as she attempts to escape the fallout from the guard’s murder in the courtyard and making deals to sell her family’s ironwood. As with before, earlier choices do bring consequences for Mira in King’s Landing, so if you accepted Tyrion’s offer of buying Ironwood, Margaery will be greatly displeased and threaten to replace you as handmaiden. This balance between securing your family’s future and your own safety within the political web has been cannily maintained throughout, and this tension only intensifies with the episode dealing with events of a certain royal wedding.

It must be stressed at this point that the game looks absolutely awful, the oil-painting filter just does not work at all in motion. Textures are flat and animations are horribly stiff, it’s a very poor-looking game which can’t be overlooked now we’ve hit the halfway point in the series. Moreover, the voice work is for the most part lousy, yes they may have the actual cast to say their lines but you can tell they can’t be bothered to do it, Kit Harrington as Jon Snow seems utterly bored when conversing with Gared for example.

Expanding on this issue, I must question generally just how much resources Telltale has avaliable for this project, Game of Thrones is without doubt a very coveted license, so one would assume this would be the flagship title from the studio this year, yet Tales from the Borderlands is visibly far superior in production values, odd situation to be sure.

‘The Sword In The Darkness’ is a flat and ultimately very disappointing third instalment in the series, considering we’ve hit the halfway point now so the characters should be firmly established by now, yet Asher and Rodrik in particular suffer through retreading old scenarios. As a whole, the episode is very muddled and disconnected, Telltale just haven’t managed to stitch together the plot threads in a convincing way.

5/10

 +Mira in the political game

+Gared finds a purpose

-Little character development

-Slow pace

-Repetitive themes

-Horrible production values