sat 24/08/2019

Game of Thrones: Episodes 4 & 5 | reviews, news & interviews

Game of Thrones: Episodes 4 & 5

Game of Thrones: Episodes 4 & 5

Winter is coming, but what about gameplay?

'Game of Thrones: Episodes 4 & 5': Making the most of those celebrity cameos

On TV, the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones is usually the most shocking and pivotal. In the game? Maybe not so much.

We rejoin the disparate members of House Forrester after a rather downbeat third episode. Former squire Gared is accused of murdering a fellow brother in the Night's Watch, brash mercenary Asher has reached Daenerys Targaryen but finds the Mother Of Dragons less cooperative than he might have liked and naive lady-in-waiting Mira finds herself ensnared in the machinations of court. Meanwhile, back at chez Forrester, newly-appointed Lord Roderik struggles under the mailed thumb of the occupying House Whitehall forces.

GoT - Mira is finally on to somethingIf the Forrester fortunes are getting you down, take heart that episode 4 finally sees our characters on the up and up. Gared breaks free of the watch and heads North into the unknown with some unlikely allies and Mira starts to get the hang of this politics and scheming lark and uncovers a plot against her family.

In Meereen, Asher and his comrade in arms Beskha are sent on an action-packed mission in the hope that their obedience will win Daenerys' favour. Roderik receives some unexpected help and the balance of power shifts.

The fourth episode ("Sons of Winter") feels like a significant shift in pace with each character given more to do and a decisive payoff to their actions. At the same time, the series' difficulties in managing four playable characters is still evident.

The constant head-swapping which works in a TV show means that each character gets just a few bite-sized chunks of play time. Spending the episode with just one or two of the cast might have made for a more immersive experience.

Similar problems dog the fifth instalment ("A Nest of Vipers") but there is still fun to be had, despite the predictably darker turn events had to take - this is Game of Thrones, after all. All men must die.

GoT - brrrTelltale’s formula, if it can be called that, is to let us play a character and see how others might be perceiving us. The "character stuff" that other games gloss over actually IS the game, with the brief moments of peril or action serving to up the stakes and create tension that spills over into ostensibly quieter moments.

This would seem to lend itself to a setting like that of Game of Thrones with its multi-layered plots and courtly intrigue. Unfortunately, the number of characters and plotlines seem to be having the opposite effect and making the story hard to invest in.

Even the action feels a little rote - the archery practice Gared had in Episode 2 resurfaces in Episode 5 but in a way that has no real bearing on the plot and feels rather shoehorned in. Even a jarring fight with undead wights in the frozen North feels more like a series of quick time events than usual.

In Telltale’s The Walking Dead the player was constantly on their toes with each new character and setting offering a new, usually horrific twist. Here, although the dialogue is well written, the plot seems on the rails - as soon as Beskha suggests her old pit-fighting comrades as a potential army for Asher you know you are just counting off the seconds until he climbs into the pit to prove himself. And so it goes.

The end of Episode 5 at last gives us a taste of the life or death choices that made The Walking Dead so memorable as the player is forced to decide which of two key characters must be sacrificed so the other can live - a choice which uniquely happens ‘out of character’ in that it is not played as though one of the characters themselves has made the choice. How much your decision will affect the story’s outcome is anyone’s guess but as this journey through Westeros nears its end, lets hope the final episode is as dramatic as the final moments of this one.

  • Game of Thrones is out now for Android, iOS, Mac, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360. Published by Telltale Games

@stuarthoughton

This is 'Game of Thrones', after all. All men must die.

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Average: 2 (1 vote)

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