Telltale’s Game of Thrones Episode Five: ‘A Nest Of Vipers’ Review

“House Forrester will win this fight”

After experiencing a notable mid-season slump, Episode Five of Telltale’s Game of Thrones series gets things back on track as it seeks to set up an enticing finale. The biggest problem with recent episodes has been how character arcs have been left in suspension, as the game attempts to maintain the intrigue for the whole series. ‘A Nest of Vipers’ succeeds in bringing characters like Asher who has been woefully developed up until now, back into the fold with major decisions to be made and consequences to face. Moreover, the episode carries a general sense of urgency and tension that renders the inevitable action sequences so much more exciting and meaningful. There are still issues to be found in the pacing and technical performance, but this is a much-improved instalment overall.

It begins right where the previous episode left off, with the despicable Ramsey Bolton once again making his presence felt at Ironrath. It’s not long before he’s cutting one of your unfortunate allies apart, as Rodrik you know don’t have the power to challenge Ramsey, but it goes beyond that. As a fan of Game of Thrones, you’ll all too aware of the substantial plot armour Ramsey enjoys in this series, nothing serious is going to happen to him regardless of your actions. Hence, it for the best that Telltale leaves this plot device alone now, despite Iwan Theon’s menacing performance.

Rodrik also has the chance to confront the traitor within his House which has been teased for ages; unfortunately however it’s as predictable as I’d thought it would be, with the identity of the individual dependent on an early choice you made in the series. Yes it really was that obvious suspect all along.

But this episode isn’t about Rodrik necessarily, as Asher takes center-stage here. He’s been under-developed all series, but finally he gets significant screen-time and proper character development. After Daenerys sort of reneges on a promise made last time around, Asher needs to travel into the liberated city of Meereen to find some warriors capable of securing Ironrath for House Forrester. His scenes are the highlight of the episode, as he’s thrust into a variety of testing encounters for the player to deal with as they see fit, plus the combat sequences have always had a bit more about them when Asher is involved.

Since there’s only one episode left, the big choices are absolutely critical with one right at the end of the game that promises a drastically different finale depending on what you do. Thus, you may be wondering why I don’t class it as an outstanding episode, well there’s still quite a few issues here, namely in the pacing of the narrative.

The increased momentum in Asher and Rodrik’s journey is contrasted against the regression experienced in Mira and Gared’s arcs. Mira who has been the star of this series up to now, has her role curtailed with her only notable scene being a visit to an imprisoned Tyrion at the request of Cersei. There’s little to play for here as there’s no choices to made on her behalf, no scheming against the King’s Landing elite, in this episode Mira is reduced to a mere tourist who has been shunted into a famous scene from the television series for no compelling reason.

Gared is still wandering the Northern wastes meanwhile, as he was in the last episode and still no nearer to finding the North Grove. There’s really nothing else to say about it, other than the fact Telltale haven’t managed to maintain interest in his story at all, Gared may as well not be in this.

‘A Nest of Vipers’ is a good couple hours of entertainment, and more significantly a much-improved instalment in a series that looked to have completely lost its way. Big decisions are made here, with one especially promising drastic consequences in the finale. It does what the penultimate episode needs to well, set up the finale, and it succeeds.

7/10

+Asher finally shines

+Big choices to make

+Action scenes carry more weight

-Gared and Mira’s arcs suffer