Telltale Games have been on one of the best runs in gaming history. Ever since they released The Walking Dead, each of their titles has been highly praised, and adored by the gaming public. Having them team up with a property as hot as HBO’s Game of Thrones was a match made in heaven. However, as the episodes continued on, it appeared that some cracks were showing in the otherwise impenetrable force that was Telltale. Episode 1 started off excellently, with a great new look into the world of Westeros and plenty of “oh crap” moments to keep players engaged. Episodes 2 and 3 pushed things along at a snails pace though, giving the feeling that Telltale was spinning their wheels a bit. Thankfully, with Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series Episode 4 – Sons of Winter they have quickly righted the ship, offering fast-paced story progression, while retaining the great feel of the series so far.
Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series tells the story of House Forrester, a relative unknown in the world of Westeros from the perspective of the HBO show, which the game is based on. Players take control of four different friends or members of House Forrester as they try to maintain order, along with their stature, following the events of the War of the Five Kings. Sons of Winter picks up right where things left off at the end of Episode 3, with all four character in pretty bad shape.
House Forrester is teetering on the edge of ruin as their rival house has taken control of their castle and still holds one of their own hostage. Meanwhile things aren’t looking good for Gared Tuttle at The Wall, as he is suspected of murdering a fellow member of the Night’s Watch. Nor are things going well for Mira Forrester in King’s Landing, as she is pushed to the outside of Margaery’s inner circle, having invested too much into her venture with Tyrion Lannister. Across the Narrow Sea though, Asher Forrester is in a much better position as he negotiates with Daenerys Targaryen for a small portion of the massive army she has amassed.
Each of the five different stories presented in Sons of Winter feels important and like it is contributing to the end goal of the series
Each of these stories has been enjoyable so far, but some have suffered greatly due to the character switching mechanic. In most Telltale games we follow along a singular story thread, allowing for great progress to be made in each episode, resulting in them feeling like a whole experience unto themselves. Game of Thrones hasn’t quite accomplished this though, as each story moves only a fraction of the usual amount each time we are able to check in. Now, pushing into the latter half of the entire experience, things are at the point where it is all paying off.
Each of the five different stories presented in Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series Episode 4 – Sons of Winter feels important and like it is contributing to the end goal of the series. While Garred and Asher’s plots take a bit of a detour, they aren’t without their own fun parts, such as Asher’s assault inside of Meereen, and overall they still have a sense of forward momentum that was lacking in previous episodes. Meanwhile, Mira becomes much more active in the major plotlines, with some excellent political games taking place within the walls of King’s Landing. Finally the events at Ironrath continue to be some of the best, with Rodrik finally seeing some light at the end of the dark tunnel that his family has been in for so long.
One of the criticisms from past episodes was that by the end of the episode each character had hardly moved anywhere. Looking back you couldn’t really see forward progress, or noticeable change as far as their individual stories from the beginning to the end. That seems to have been cleared up in Episode 4 as you can easily see the trajectory that each story has taken, and will take in the future, by episode’s end. And of course, the signature tough choices play a huge role once again.
Even when Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series was spinning its wheels a bit, it still offered some of the toughest choices of any Telltale series. Decisions had to be made quickly, but felt as though they could yield great impact in the world at large. In Sons of Winter this continues, and gets pushed to its limits as multiple stories feature extremely tough choices. Telltale has become masters of making impactful moments where players have to decide quickly, leading to some truly grave consequences for some characters. While occasionally the outcome might end up being the same regardless of the player’s choice, it still feels extremely hectic in the moment. Episode 4 – Sons of Winter easily featured the most times where I considered reloading my save to try to reverse a choice that I felt I had done poorly, which is a huge sign that Telltale completely succeeded here.
While most of the problems from previous episodes were cleared up, some do still linger unfortunately. The art style is still a mixed bag, with the overall feeling that it was a poor choice this time around. Making the world look more like a painting seems like a great idea, but the implementation isn’t perfect, and some scenes simply appear as though they are a blurry mess rather than a beautiful art piece.
A new problem has begun to crop up a bit though, as the series begins crossing over more and more with the HBO show. The story of House Forrester runs concurrent to the series, taking place between the end of Season 3 and the beginning of Season 5. This always seemed odd, as players would essentially take the sideline to the main narrative of Game of Thrones. It worked out though, as Telltale created a compelling drama within the small framework that they were provided. However, as the game’s characters interact more and more with ones from the show it begins to chip away at the suspension of disbelief. The fact that Asher is playing such a pivotal role in important parts of Danaerys’ story is a bit of a stretch. Ramsay Snow also pushes this a tiny bit, as he plays a bigger role in the show at this point in time. It isn’t too bad at this point, but it will be something to watch out for in future episodes if these stories continue this way.
Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series Episode 4 – Sons of Winter puts the series back on the right track, offering the same amazing writing, voice acting, and world, but with more progress and consequence to the proceedings. Players who were becoming tired of the lack of momentum in the overall story will be happy to see some major events take place, as well as some great prospects opened up for the future. The story of House Forrester continues to fascinate and engage, while finally feeling like a true piece of Game of Thrones lore. With two episodes left, Game of Thrones is shaping up to be among Telltale’s best.
Game of Thrones Episode 4 - Sons of Winter
- Available On: PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
- Published By: Telltale Games
- Developed By: Telltale Games
- Genre: Graphic Adventure
- US Release Date: May 26th, 2015
- Reviewed On: PC
- Quote: "Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series Episode 4 - Sons of Winter puts the series back on the right track, offering the same amazing writing, voice acting, and world, but with more progress and consequence to the proceedings."