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Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness Review

by Kyle Hanson

Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series continues its brutal, heart-wrenching run with the release of Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness. So far the series has offered up fantastic drama and storytelling mixed with the always enjoyable world of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Episode 3 continues this with another great entry that pushes the story forward, while ramping up the tension for what’s next. The Sword in the Darkness might not feature any truly traumatic moments as in the first episode, but it also feels like more of a standalone experience than the second. This results in the most consistently enjoyable episode of the series, with promise of even better things to come in future entries.

Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series tells the tale of House Forrester, a relatively unknown family in the world of the HBO TV series. Taking place between the end of Season 3 and beginning of Season 5 of the show, the game spotlights a particularly tumultuous time for Westeros. House Forrester is caught right in the middle of it all, with their enemies literally inside the walls of their castle, and new adversities cropping up all around.

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Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness picks up largely in the same place as the previous episode. Asher is still trying to find an army, Mira is still working out the political landscape of King’s Landing, Gared is finding his place at the wall, and Rodrik is trying to keep things from boiling over at Ironrath. While this is also largely where all of the characters are at the end of Episode 3 as well, a few key events shift the landscape, creating much more tension and suspense going forward.

Things open pretty fast with Asher encountering a particularly noteworthy beast from the show. Drogon makes a triumphant appearance, and while it isn’t quite as epic as one might expect from a dragon encounter, it is action-packed enough for a Telltale game to really grab player’s interest. Things slow down after that, jumping between the other storylines, largely cleaning up the messes left behind at the end of Episode 2. Once The Sword in the Darkness gets closer to its finale though, events begin to really pick up.

A few extremely memorable moments are accompanied by some of the toughest choices that Telltale has ever offered to players. Unlike some of their other games, Game of Thrones always keeps things tough to predict. There is no right answer to most of the choices you are presented with, which leaves you scratching your head as to what to do a lot of the time. Seeing how these choices turn out is a lot of the fun, and unfortunately many will have to wait until future episodes for that to happen. Still, simply making players stop and think about their actions is a tough enough thing to accomplish, and Game of Thrones Episode 3 does it multiple times.

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However, a few issues have cropped up over the last three episodes that are worrisome for the future of the series. Many stories are in somewhat of a loop, with Ironrath being a perfect example. The family is always waiting for other stories to progress, before some traumatic event riles up the player’s anger. Little has actually progressed here, though a late revelation does offer some intrigue for future episodes to capitalize on.

Players who have been following the story of House Forrester will easily get sucked right back into their trials and tribulations this time around

Another issue that appeared to come up before being somewhat circumvented is that Gared’s story was acting as a mirror of Jon Snow’s. He arrived at The Wall as an outsider, got into some trouble with his newfound brothers, used kindness to win them over, and then was tempted to abandon his oath due to family trouble. Some events have pointed to a different path, but for those who have seen the show or read the books, Gared was a bit of a repetitive experience this episode.

Most of these problems are fairly small in the grand scheme of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series. They really only become apparent upon reflection over the whole series, which will likely make replays and playthroughs of all six episodes feel a bit worse than playing each episode as it releases. The trouble is most likely caused by the character switching mechanic, which takes focus away from stories just as the player becomes truly invested in the character and their circumstances. Telltale is certainly improving, as Episode 3 achieves a good enough balance between the disparate storylines, but this far from the conclusion there just isn’t enough concrete progress at times.

None of this takes away from the excellent storytelling and writing that has become a Telltale staple. They have truly created their own tiny world within the larger universe of Game of Thrones. Players who have been following the story of House Forrester will easily get sucked right back into their trials and tribulations this time around. One thing is clear at this point though, they aren’t making it out of all of this easily. The sheer calamity that befalls this group of people can be staggering at times, and players are likely near their breaking point by the end of Episode 3.

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Moving into the back of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series will hopefully bring about some progress, both for House Forrester as a whole, and for the various storylines that players control. It feels like there has been more wheel-spinning in this series than in Telltale’s past, but Episode 3 delivers enough action and thrills to keep things fresh and interesting throughout.

The Verdict

Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness continues both the series good and bad points, although less of the latter than its predecessor. Dialogue and overall storytelling is still at an amazingly high level, which makes up for some lack of progression in the many storylines offered here. Players will easily be sucked right back into the world, but some concrete progress will be required in future installments if they are to stay there.

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Game of Thrones: Episode 3

  • Available On: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Mac, iOS, Android
  • Published By: Telltale Games
  • Developed By: Telltale Games
  • Genre: Graphic Adventure
  • US Release Date: March 24th, 2015
  • Reviewed On: PC
  • Quote: "Game of Thrones Episode 3 is certainly the most consistent entry in the series, with great action and storytelling throughout. The issues from Episode 2 still crop up though, and more concrete progress is needed to truly satisfy."
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The Good

  • Excellent writing and storytelling
  • Tough and consequence-filled choices throughout
  • Great promise for future episodes

The Bad

  • Still an overall lack of progress in some stories
  • Echoes of stories from the show
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