Xbox One

  News 
  Reviews
  Previews
  Hardware
  Interviews
  All Features

Areas

  3DS
  Android
  iPad
  iPhone
  Mac
  PC
  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Switch
  Vita
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One
  Media
  Archives
  Search
  Contests

 

Game of Thrones: Episode 4 - Sons of Winter
Score: 95%
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure


Introduction:

Game of Thrones: Episode 4 Ė Sons of Winter is the equivalent of A Dance with Dragons; the slow burn is starting to quicken, and the cache of wildfire is dangerously close by. This fourth episode remains heavy on dialogue and table-setting, but in terms of dramatic tension, itís almost a grand slam. There are a few script and performance related issues that are far too severe to overlook, but once the credits roll, itís clear that this is the best and most action-packed episode of Telltaleís take on A Song of Ice and Fire yet.

Ironrath:

If Sons of Winter belongs to any character in particular, itís Lord Rodrik. After three episodes of being brutalized, subjugated, and humiliated, he gets an unexpected ally to help him remove Ironrath from the vice-like grip of the cruel Gryff Whitehill. But he must do his best to keep his anger (justifiable as it may be) in check; Lord Ludd still holds little Ryon Forrester at Highpoint. Rodrikís story in Sons of Winter is the most immediately gratifying, thanks to a couple of marvelously cathartic sequence near the end, but the stinger ending will elicit few shocked gasps and quite a few frustrated sighs.

Iíve come to the realization that House Whitehill is a weak link in this story. The books and television show go out of their way to paint in the broadest strokes of every possible gray hue. You loathe the Lannisters in A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings, but you come to understand (and in some cases, even love) them as their characters and pasts are developed and explored. Ludd Whitehill is about as interesting as Voldemort; heís a petty, irredeemable man who sows misery everywhere he goes just because. Armed with the knowledge of how this brutal world works and unable to find any sort of better nature to appeal to, itís difficult to imagine anyone treating this family with anything less than violence and contempt, the only languages they seem to be versed in. Anyone who allies themselves with House Bolton deserves nothing less.


Meereen:

Asher Forrester, having just survived the wrath of the Lost Legion and an encounter with the vicious Drogon, somehow thinks that he stands a chance at convincing Daenerys Targaryen to lend him some military support in the reclaiming of Ironrath. Unfortunately for him, sheís got problems of her own; she has not yet taken the city of Meereen and is not in a position to spare any of her manpower. But thereís a silver lining; Asherís companion Beskha knows Meereen like the back of her hand, and can possibly use that knowledge to indebt her to him. Game of Thrones has received flak for condensing (or altogether skipping) some of the most memorable battle sequences from the series; while weíll probably never see the Battle of the Whispering Wood, Telltale fills in one of the more conspicuous blanks left by the series by having Asher participate in the Siege of Meereen. Telltaleís flair for simple quick time events is put to good use in a lengthy stealth sequence.

Anyone who has spoken with me at length about George R. R. Martinís opus knows that Iím not on Team Dany. Her entitlement mentality, naÔvetť, and adolescent self-righteousness are unbecoming of a leader, and more commonly associated with would-be despots and yes, usurpers. Sons of Winter only serves to compound my animosity towards the exiled Targaryen princess; as the writing and Emilia Clarkeís performance conspire to make for a thoroughly detestable cameo.


King's Landing:

Itís coronation day for Tommen of the House Baratheon, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men and Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. And Mira Forrester is persona non grata, thanks to her interaction with Tyrion Lannister, who was falsely accused of fatally poisoning King Joffrey. So Miraís been uninvited, but you can never keep a good handmaiden / purveyor of courtly intrigue down. Sheís able to sneak into the coronation feast with the help of fellow handmaiden Sera Durwell (who, last episode, revealed herself to be bastard born). Itís Miraís job to be the fly on the wall and seek out Lord Luddís primary contact in Kingís Landing, who presents by far the gravest threat to House Forrester. Over the past three episodes, Miraís story has been the strongest of all the leads. Her role in The Sons of Winter is greatly reduced, but still enjoyable.

The Wall:

Gared Tuttle really deserves a break. Life in Westeros is rarely a pleasant thing, but precious few deserve the series of unspeakably unfortunate events that have, for all intents and purposes, ruined his life. First, he was forced to witness the horrors of the Red Wedding. Then he was treated to the sight of his father and eight-year-old sister being butchered by Boltons and Whitehills. Then he was sent to the Wall for defending himself. And just when things couldnít get any worse, one of his familyís murderers, Britt Warrick, showed up and got violent -- fast. Whether or not Gared attempted to keep the peace, Britt ended up taking a well-deserved snow nap. And the punishment is clear: Gared will hang. But the Grenn and Pyp proxies for this series, lanky Cotter and burly Finn, show up to assist him in his hour of need, and Gared strikes out north of the Wall, with one or both of them in tow. The goal of the deserters: to find the North Grove. But itís not that simple; last episode came with the revelation of Cotterís wildling heritage; and a violent encounter with a dangerous group of spearwives leads to an interesting cliffhanger.

Conclusion:

My biggest qualm with this series is its unrelenting insistence on having you cross paths with the major players in the novels and television show. Donít get me wrong; itís neat to meet characters like Tyrion and Jon, but the experience comes across like meeting Mickey and Donald at Walt Disney World. In my opinion, the biggest problem with this approach is that we know firsthand the struggles that these characters are going through; and since Sons of Winter is set towards the beginning of Season Four of the show / halfway through A Storm of Swords, we already know where the main characters are going, and that whatever their interactions with House Forrester are, they arenít really notable in the larger scheme of things. This makes the entire series feel like an exercise in futility. Telltale has a strong cast of characters, and I think the writers need to have a bit more faith in them.

All that being said, Game of Thrones: Episode 4 Ė Sons of Winter is excellent. It provides a much-needed respite from the agony of the previous three episodes and builds a solid foundation for a satisfying endgame.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Related Links:



Microsoft Xbox One Star Wars Pinball: Star Wars Rebels Microsoft Xbox One Destiny: House of Wolves

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated