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REVIEW | "Game of Thrones": Episode Five

The deeper I get into Telltale's Game of Thrones adaptation, the more I'm convinced I'm being set up for disaster. Just when I thought that House Forrester finally had an upper hand -- after spending the majority of the time having their faces splattered with mud -- we once again find the family and what little allies they have in some pretty painful predicaments. For the first time, I'm not quite enjoying this trek through Westeros.

I cannot blame the writers of "A Nest of Vipers," as they do a fairly good job with not only capturing the world of A Song of Ice and Fire in video game form, but also feeding us the emotional risks that come with being attached to these characters. You really want to see House Forrester come out on top, but every time you think something good is about to happen to them, Rodrik, Asher, Mira, and everyone else are pushed to the brink of being wiped off the map.

Is House Forrester cursed? It appears all signs point directly to that assumption. Rodrik dealing with Ramsay Snow's sinister ways as his ally Arthur suffers for his choices; Mira losing the closest friend she had all while Ceresi forces her to find out what Tyrion is plotting for his defense; Asher & Beskha having their promise broken by Daenerys after their plan to free Meeran goes off the rails just a tiny bit; and let's not forget about Gareth, whose plan to get to the North Grove just keeps getting tougher as wights strike a nasty blow on their homestay. It's beyond frustrating to see these characters constantly in dire situations.

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I know George R.R. Martin enjoys killing off big characters in shocking way, and I respect his way of doing so via pulling the rug right under us. Telltale Games, on the other hand, just seems to be killing these characters off slowly and painfully, and not in a good way like most dark Irish plays have successfully done. Whenever Rodrik was onscreen attempting to do the right thing for Ironrath, it was comparative to watching someone killing an ant, starting with its legs being pulled off and then having its exoskeleton squished centimeter after centimeter. To be blunt: House Forrester is kind of pathetic, which may be why Martin never had bothered with writing about them in the first place.

It was good hearing Peter Dinklage again after Tyrion's absence in Episode Four, and while he seemed less than optimistic in that prison cell those familiar with the HBO series knows what his outcome will be. Alex Jordan also shines as Asher here, giving a powerful speech (depending on how you word it) to the freed slaves of Meeran. However it was during that specific segment when I came across some pretty bad audio and visual hiccups, with roaring crowds suddenly becoming silent and Asher's body moving robotically through the audience. These are issues that I thought Telltale Games had ironed out from past titles, so I was thrown off when these glitches started to appear.

Lastly, we've come to the choice system. I alway take the "what would I do" route whenever it came time to build a character's path, but never in my life have I seen so many of my choices go up in smoke. It felt like being Brendan Gleeson in one of John Michael McDonagh's films, where whichever choice he made in the story would wind up destroying him externally and internally towards the end. If you ever wanted to feel like a game developer was giving you the middle finger, "A Nest of Vipers" will do the job not-so-nicely.

PROS:

  • Great voice acting
  • Some choices may wrack your brain
  • Writing's pretty good...

CONS:

  • ...but House Forrester's "luck" is wincing
  • Audio cuts out in some places
  • Characters move pretty sluggishly

FINAL THOUGHTS:

We've only got one more episode left of Game of Thrones to go through, but so far the end is looking pretty bleak. "A Nest of Vipers" may have set up the final stand for House Forrester, and while I am eager to see how it all turns out I fear that the end product will not be worthy enough of the Ice and Fire name. However if you can soldier through Episode Five, then you may be able to go forth and play this series to the bitter, under parred end.

FINAL GRADE: 5.8 (out of ten)

Xbox One Season Pass provided by Telltale Games and Kim Manuel of Sandbox Strategies

Originally posted on the ESH EGMNOW page

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Contributing Editor at ESH since 2008, and host of the No Borders No Race podcast show, which began as a humble college radio program in 2006. My passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture is what drives me to give you my all in every article published and every podcast recorded.