Telltale's Game of Thrones Episode 4 "Sons of Winter" Review
With the last episode ending with the introduction of Danerys Targaryen, "Sons of Winter" had quite the stinger to live up to. The first three episodes of Telltale's Game of Thrones series received decent reviews. Most of the story in the first half of this series set up a lot of plot, but lacked enough action to keep gamers on their toes and invested in the story. "Sons of Winter" starts off the second "half" of Telltale's episodes, but does it liven up the world of Westeros or just follow the previously established formula?
Dany Targaryen makes her video game debut
It was interesting to hear the voice of Emilia Clarke during the scenes with Daenerys and, like with Cersei and Ramsay in previous episode, her acting was brilliant. Daenerys did seem kind of cold and quick to anger when interacting with Asher, no matter what the choice was selected by the player. However, this does sort of coincide with both the book and the TV series, in which Dany is rather skeptical and intimidating to strangers and sellswords - and from her perspective, Asher and Beska fall into both categories. The attention to detail really made her scenes interesting, at least in hindsight.
During the sections concerning Asher, his companion Beska reveals why she hates Meereen. Beska's tortured past and her reactions to helping Asher enter Meereen to gain Dany's favor, were all foreshadowed in previous episodes. They seemed rather genuine and heartfelt, giving the normally brusque Beska a deeper and more complex character. Asher's section also consisted of multiple long action/QTE segments.
This new episode was a real turnabout for the series with lots of action for three out of the four stories.
There was a decent sense of urgency, which was a little bit undermined by the awkwardness that is sometimes commonplace with Telltale's action scenes.
Action finally comes to Ironrath, after two episodes of waiting
Meanwhile in Westeros, the parts of the game concerning Mira, Rodrick and Gared also kept up pretty well with Asher’s actions in Essos. Up in the North, Rodrick is finally able to take substantial actions against the tyrannical Whitehills and make decisions that definitely seem rather drastic and exciting. This was for the best, as the past two episodes seemed rather repetitive concerning Rodrick and his experiences in Ironrath. Eventually Rodrick and Lord Whitehill face off in a sort of hostage exchange that really ramps up the tension and agency in the North. Rodrick and his family finally start to rebel against the repressive Whitehills and bring a feeling that all the actions you take, whether peaceful or violent, will have consequences in the next two episodes to come.
Back at the Wall...(More spoilers ahead)
Gared is dealing with the consequences of his scuffle with Britt, his father's killer. Despite the player attempting to avoid a conflict with Britt in the previous episode, and even if Finn backs him up, the Night's Watch will ignore it and condemn Gared to death. No spoilers on how the Night Watch’s punishment goes concerning Gared, but otherwise his section of the episode was pretty decent. There was a bit of action and some decisions to be made as Gared tries to escape and travel to the mysterious “North Grove”.
Same tricks but heavier payoff for Mira
Finally in King's Landing, Mira is playing the same old style that she has for the past two episodes: playing the "Game of Thrones" and helping her family. However, this time she has to investigate rumors about the Whitehills in King's Landing. This requires her to negotiate with various characters and be cautious with her choice of words.
Additionally some of the choices that Mira had to make definitely had me second-guessing myself, which adds to the intrigue and replay value of her story. Mira's investigation concludes with her figuring out some rather grim news concerning the Whitehills and her family. This was sorely needed for Mira's part of the story, as her actions seemed rather removed from her family's issues and mostly consisted of her surviving the political trappings of King's Landing while responding to events in the North.
The Final Verdict
The ending for this particular episode, like the other two before it, has a stinger that had me dying to know when the next episode is, keeping in the style of the show Game of Thrones. There were a few technical lags and loading issues, but only once or twice so it was not as irritating and intrusive in the game as previous episodes. Despite having a few flaws here and there, "Sons of Winter" is the best episode in the series yet.
Many decisions have to be made that seem to have the potential to cause drastic consequences, alongside situations that seem to be shaped by previous choices in the last two episodes. Despite having some odd reactions from both Dany and the Night's Watch, this episode has plenty of action and story progression that keeps the player interested in the fate of the Forresters.