Games Review: Game of Thrones – A Telltale Games Series: Episode Three (PC, 2015)

The third episode of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series resumes very shortly after the conclusion of Episode 2: The Lost Lords. Things aren’t looking great for the imperiled Forrester family and, if this new episode is any indication, their trials show no signs of abating any time soon.

Episode Three, titled A Sword in the Darkness, feels like the most accomplished episode of the series yet. Though we’re still spending vastly different amounts of time with each of the game’s four playable characters it feels like each of them are given precisely the right amount. Telltale have ratcheted the drama up considerably in this episode, with your actions and snap decisions having far more dire consequences than ever before. Poor decisions you’ve made in previous episodes also begin to have potentially disastrous ramifications here as well.

With each episode, Game of Thrones is revealing itself to be just as subversive as it’s source material. Despite forcing you into it’s various snap decisions, you must always be thinking like the characters around you – you must have a plan, a long game and stick to it like glue, but you must also be willing to amend it should a better deal arise. What this means is you must be able to assess a given character and any potential movement against them and how that could play out in the future both, for yourself and the other members of your family, and conclude whether or not to proceed all within the space of about eight seconds. The precariousness of it all is stressful in the extreme, and successfully putting something potentially life-saving in motion is immensely satisfying.

The Forrester’s are still placed all over the map. The game begins where we last saw our boys and girls. Asher is heading for Mereen, Mira is still desperately wheeling-and-dealing in King’s Landing, Gared Tuttle is getting used to life on The Wall and, back in Ironrath, Rodrik is having to make some hard decisions about his family’s near future.

As we saw at the end of Episode 2, Ludd Whitehill has taken Ironrath and he now installs his son Gryff to oversee it. Despite their unwillingness to play host so such boorish creatures, Rodrik must decide on how to keep his family and their home safe while under occupation – at least until help arrives.

Gared is getting closer to Jon Snow on The Wall and getting a feel for his place in the Night’s Watch. He’s still got to content with his two feuding offsiders but when Duncan arrives with a shipment of Ironwood shields for the men, he reveals that he has a mission for the bastard – one more critical beyond anything his siblings have been tasked with. He also finds himself with further problems when an old grudge arrives in a group of new recruits.

Mira – poor Mira – remains, for me, the most interesting and put-upon of all the Forrester children. Tasked with finding money to keep her family afloat during the conflict that is about to erupt, she must learn to play the Game and learn quickly. She’s juggling with daggers, trying to forge partnerships without rising above her station as a handmaiden, trying to do it quietly so as not to arouse the suspicions of the powerful like Cersei Lannister and trying to keep everyone happy, both here and at home. It was in Mira’s sections more often than not that I found myself making silly decisions I hadn’t thought through and instantly regretting them moments later when my reason caught up with my gut.

Exiled Forrester son Asher and his friends remains on the move out of Yunkai towards Mereen, avoiding mercenaries who we saw tracking them at the end of the last episode and, once again, he’s the character we get to spend the least amount of time with overall. We don’t know an awful lot about Asher just yet – we know that his family exiled him, that he drifted across the seas to get away from them. We know that he’s a bit of a rogue and we know that he’s capital-t Trouble. However, judging by the way this particular episode ends, I’d say we’ll be spending a lot more time with Asher in the next three episodes.

A Sword in the Darkness is the most accomplished episode of the series so far. It offers everything fans love about Game of Thrones and about Telltale in equal measure. Hopefully, in the lead up to the premiere of the show’s fifth season, we’ll see episodes coming thick and fast.

Review Score: 8.5 out of 10
Highlights: Mira continues to be the most interesting; tightly-wound story-telling
Lowlights: I don’t know when I’ll get to play the next episode yet
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Released: March 24, 2015
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS

Reviewed on PC