Game of Thrones: Episode 5, A Nest of Vipers – Review

(Here there be spoilers)

Telltale’s Game of Thrones series has largely been a hit and miss experience for me. On one hand, the performances are great and the player is sometimes placed in very tense, dramatic scenarios. On the other hand, the script is very poor in places, and we know certain situations can yield no effective result, as this takes place before season 5 of the TV series.

It’s the latter problem that really plagues the opening scene of the episode, in which Rodrick is confronted by an especially volatile Ramsay Snow, who kills Arthur Glenmore before him, while also presenting Rodrick with the opportunity of killing him right there on the spot.

However Ramsay is still very much alive in the TV series of Game of Thrones, and so the only logical choice is to pass at the opportunity to kill him, as we know that we will forever be unable to impact House Bolton in the series. This is the persisting problem for the series, and the decision to have House Bolton as one of the primary antagonists of the game perhaps wasn’t such a well thought out plan by Telltale.

Next we were transported to the outskirts of Mereen in Dany’s camp, where Asher Forrester attempted to reclaim his rewards for the deeds of the previous episode. Here the poor writing really began to stick out like a sore thumb for me. It’s not that the writing is particularly bad, more like it just doesn’t fit well established characters, who we’ve come to know deeply over years of watching the TV series.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be comparing the Telltale Games series so intensely with the TV series, but that’s one of the natural issues you’re going to face when essentially making spin-off material from a cult TV show. As such, anyone would be entirely justified in saying that the writing of the Telltale series doesn’t even begin to compare with the writing of the TV series, with the writing in the game being painfully blunt, and sometimes forced, in comparison.

North of the wall, with Gared Tuttle, and Mereen, with Asher Forrester, were some of the key points of this episode. While Asher had a run in with the fighting pits in order to establish an army for himself, Gared got on the wrong side of some White Walkers, with both revolving around the heavy use of combat.

It’s here that Telltale’s use of the same engine throughout all their game series’ really began to show. I’m not quite sure if it’s just my console (I doubt it), but the frame rate will frequently dip when I’m either faced with combat scenarios, or in scenes with plenty of people. Given that this episode revolved quite heavily around combat in some stages, the game ran particularly poorly, and I’m honestly wishing Telltale would just start from scratch with a more powerful engine.

But for all my complaints with the episode, the whole thing ended on a very nice note, with Asher arriving from Mereen with a (small) army to assist Rodrick, and ultimately one brother dying. The choice here was very nice, however even in sparing the traitors life to gain information, the entire thing is ultimately rendered useless, as Gryff still manages to ambush Asher and Rodrick,

I’ve heard of this final scene playing out with a ton of different possibilities with people. For example you can choose to execute the traitor and then have Asher ambushed, or spare the traitor and arrive to help Asher, with one brother dying in the ensuing fight. The entire thing gets a little messy, and I’m wondering if Telltale have stretched themselves a little too thin in giving players too many different ending scenarios.

All will be answered in the next climactic episode, which I’m assuming will be released possibly in late September or early October. Personally I’m not all that ecstatic, but I will sacrifice everyone and everything just to wipe that smug grin off Gryff’s face, and to kill that soldier with the man-bun.

5/10

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