Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series heads into its penultimate episode with Episode 5 – A Nest of Vipers. Telltale has pretty consistently delivered the best stories in video games over the last few years. The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Tales from the Borderlands have all featured stellar writing that lent itself to a fantastic world. Combining this talent with the powerhouse that is HBO’s Game of Thrones only made sense, but something has been missing. Some unknown piece of the Telltale and Game of Thrones magic hasn’t really been there, resulting in episodes that are decently entertaining, but don’t quite hold the same punch as Telltale’s other efforts. With Episode 5 – A Nest of Vipers the magic still isn’t completely there, but some great strides are taken to get it back.
Game of Thrones Episode 5 opens immediately where the last episode left things. Without spoiling too much, it is not looking good for the Forresters and their allies. Ramsay Snow makes yet another appearance at Ironroth , bringing his particular brand of insanity to the affair, while setting the stage for the finale. Elsewhere we check in with Mira, Gared, and Asher.
The last of these is where we get the most action, and the most progress in the story. Asher has been one of the more enjoyable stories in the game, while also being the focus of a lot of wheel-spinning in previous episodes. Here though, while some events might cheapen your actions in the last episode, the end result is great progress plot-wise. That progress has been lacking quite a bit in this series, with each story suffering from it at times.
This time around it is the usual suspects of Gared and Mira. At first Gared felt like a plot retread of Jon Snow’s storyline from the HBO show, only really coming into his own in Episode 4. After that though, little has truly pushed the narrative forward, with a few interesting set-pieces and story beats, but overall we’re still searching for the North Grove, just like we were back in Episode 2. Mira is likewise still caught up in the politics and intrigue of King’s Landing. Here she has a lot of run-ins with important characters from the show, but doesn’t really feel like an integral part of the overall narrative.
Both of these stories do still have some enjoyable parts, including Mira chatting with Tyrion, and Gared running into some Wights. However, they are still fairly lackluster, despite having the usual high quality voice acting and writing that Telltale is known for. The other two running stories, those of Rodrik and Asher, thankfully don’t suffer the same fate, even jumping ahead a couple of times. These moments can be a little jarring, feeling like sudden shifts that we should have seen play out, but it is much better than the alternative that we’ve seen in the other arcs.
While the story progression might not be up to par with other Telltale offerings, one thing that Game of Thrones has always excelled at, even over its brethren, is the choice mechanic. It doesn’t feel completely different than other graphic adventure games, but the choices being presented here seem to have more weight to them than those others. This is true once again in Game of Thrones Episode 5 – A Nest of Vipers, with a couple of choices that made me stop and question which path to take.
Of course, whenever the matter of choice in games comes up, the question is always, how different does it truly make the game. In most cases in Game of Thrones, at least those not involving characters from the show, it feels like we are actually getting at least a little bit of a shift in the narrative, though without the full season available it is tough to tell. Still, even if we all end up in the same place at the end of this adventure, it has been an enjoyable one so far.
One issue that has been unique to Game of Thrones is the fact that it takes place in such a well-known universe, and pulls characters directly from its source material. While The Walking Dead featured characters from the comics, it quickly branched into its own story, allowing players to exist in a sort of pocket universe. The Wolf Among Us also used established characters, but played with the idea more, creating interesting scenarios where characters who should survive seemingly didn’t.
Game of Thrones on the other hand uses characters from the HBO show more and more often as the series goes on. The problem here is that interactions with them, especially those that offer choices, don’t have the same impact. What does it matter if I rat out Tyrion or not? I already know the outcome of his situation, so why should I care if I take advantage? The same goes for Ramsay Snow, who presents a few otherwise interesting scenarios to the player, but they hit with a dull thud due to knowing how meaningless the choices would actually be in the end.
Despite the issues this series might have had along the way, it is still a Telltale game through and through. This means that players are in for excellent voice acting, fantastic writing, and truly relatable characters. These are all still present in Game of Thrones, and the entire experience is still extremely enjoyable throughout. Episode 5 – A Nest of Vipers is no different here, and even stands out as having some of the more interesting moments of the series so far.
Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series Episode 5 – A Nest of Vipers isn’t the best episode of the flawed, but engaging series, but it is still up there with the best of them. A couple of issues persist, such as show characters causing narrative confusion, and one or two stories not really progressing all that much, but overall fans should find themselves happy with the direction the series is going. Its strength lies in the choices it forces upon the player, which are some of the toughest in any Telltale game up to this point. How these choices will play out in the finale will likely determine how this series is viewed in the long run.
Game of Thrones Episode 5 - A Nest of Vipers
- 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: July 21st, 2015
- Reviewed On: PC
- Quote: "Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series Episode 5 - A Nest of Vipers isn't the best episode of the flawed, but engaging series, but it is still up there with the best of them. A couple of issues persist, such as show characters causing narrative confusion, and one or two stories not really progressing all that much, but overall fans should find themselves happy with the direction the series is going."