Telltale’s Game of Thrones Episode Four: ‘Sons of Winter’ Review

“Your friends won’t be around forever”

After a strong start, Telltale’s Game of Thrones series has dipped alarmingly, and this downward trend only accelerates in an awful fourth episode. It’s difficult to understand what Telltale are even doing with this license, as touched upon on in previous reviews the game has skeletal production values and voice acting from the official cast seems half-hearted at best. In addition, character progress seems to have been completely curtailed by means of a narrative that just can’t get a handle on all the different strands it seeks to weave.

‘Sons of Winter’ is the typical Game of Thrones episode on paper, all members of House Forrester are in pretty dire situations, with Gared Tuttle facing execution for killing a fellow member of the Night’s Watch, Asher facing a confrontation with Daenerys Targaryen, Rodrik being humiliated at the hands of Gryff Whitehill at Ironrath and Mira learning of a conspiracy in King’s Landing. What a shame that practically all these character arcs this episode flounder so notably.

Asher’s meeting with Dany is crushingly dull with Telltale’s shtick of railroading the exchange to where they want it to go, not by where your choices should logically lead it. So for example, you can prove to her that you battled her dragon by showing her its tooth, doesn’t matter she’ll not believe you and continue to threaten you either way. Goodness me is Emilia Clarke’s performance flat also (mirroring the show I guess ooooooooh), fitting in with all the other cast members who’ve put in voice work for this series.

Other than that, Asher and Beshka take part in a series of tedious combat sequences as they attempt to infiltrate Meereen; they’re all a far cry from scenes in say The Wolf Among Us which had excellent direction to its violence, here guards fall over comically and the threat of failure is never felt by the player.

Gared meanwhile is on the run from the Night’s Watch after he killed his father’s murderer atop the Wall in self-defence last episode. Of course, he explains why he had no choice to the commander and even Finn backs you up on this, but nope you’re sentenced to execution regardless. Happily this pre-determined scenario allows Gared to focus on finding the North Grove without distraction, now he’s broken his vows and all. But nothing happens this episode and that’s not  an exaggeration, he aimlessly wanders around with insignificant choices to boot. Previous episodes he was the focal point, here he’s like a lost lamb.

Mira Forrester is quickly growing into her role as a political schemer and this episode is basically her messing around with people with little threat or consequence attached. However by making Mira this strong, the tension in her storyline naturally evaporates. That’s not to say her scenes this episode are particularly bad, she’s easily been the most compelling character in this series and it’s super satisfying to see her embrace the coldness of the political game over time by lying and breaking promises without a moment’s hesitation. Yet the point still stands, the Game of Thrones this episode for her is child’s play when it should be incredibly frightening.

Rodrik finally gets to issue some form of payback to the Whitehills by teaming up with the Glenmores to remove Gryff as ‘Lord’ of Ironrath, how far you go in your treatment of Gryff is up to you but you may wish to consider that they still hold your brother Ryon hostage. This conundrum reaches a tense climax with a chaotic choice right at the end as the two families have a sit-down. It’s easily the highlight of the entire episode, and maybe the most excruciating one in the entire series, it also has a good payoff if you done a bit of investigation beforehand.

I know I’ve mentioned this last review so I won’t go into as much detail here, but this game looks absolutely terrible, the voices aren’t synched, animations are stiff and the whole game seems to not ‘flow’ well at all. What are Telltale doing?

‘Sons of Winter’ is a dreadful episode in a series that is threatening to completely unravel, Telltale still haven’t been able to settle into a convincing rhythm to tell the stories of House Forrester. What’s more, the pre-determined outcomes of character interactions are acutely visible here and it significantly dented my interest in the narrative going forward. Unfortunately this series is looking like a cheap cash-in on a popular license, but there are still two more episodes to go so we’ll see I guess.

4/10

+ Mira embracing politics

+ Rodrik getting some revenge

– Awful visuals

-Dull character arcs

-Clumsy pacing

-Hardly any big choices