Game Review | Game of Thrones | Season 1, Episode 4 | "Sons of Winter"
Episode Summary: In hopes of reclaiming Ironrath, Rodrik Forrester allies with Elaena and Arthur Glenmore who share his hatred of the Whitehills. Together, they devise a plan to inconspicuously take out Gryff Whitehill. (Wikipedia)
*** SPOILER ALERT – Do not read any further if you want to avoid spoilers ***
The main issue I have with this episode doesn’t really have anything to do with the game by itself, more the franchise as a whole. Game of Thrones is so unrelentingly bleak, with the villainous characters almost always having the upper hand, that even when there are tiny, tiny moments of triumph, you’re always expecting the next dagger in the back to come at any moment.
This is very much the case in ”Sons of Winter”, where every story-line progresses to a place of success or triumph, even if only a little one, only for a certain Ramsay Snow to suddenly show up in Ironrath again and end the episode on a downbeat note.
There isn’t any real issues to be had with the scene, or how Ramsay makes his appearance, but the fact that it’s the very last scene of the episode is galling. Telltale could have easily moved this scene to earlier on and allowed any of the other plots to close things out in a cathartic manner, but instead you are left feeling deflated.
It hurts especially as events in and around Ironrath have probably been the most depressing to play through, with multiple antagonists repeatedly walking into the story, being villainous, and then waltzing off again.
So when you finally get a minor victory – allying with the Glenmores to retake Ironrath, imprison Gryff and negotiate the return of your brother Ryon in exchange for the Whitehill – to have that then all brought crashing down in the very final scene is more frustrating than anything else.
At Castle Black, Gared makes his escape with the help of Cotter and Finn, travelling north of the Wall and leaving the Night’s Watch behind, before encountering and defeating a group of Wildlings, ending the story in this episode encountering Cotter’s young sister, Sylvi, who can take the group to the North Grove.
In Essos, Asher and Beskha infiltrate Meereen with Croft, an old acquaintance, to help take down a signal post that would alert the city that Daenerys’ mercenary company, the Second Sons, were attacking. There are some personal issues to work out along the way, with Asher killing Beskha’s former master to her great annoyance, but the attack is successful.
Then, in King’s Landing, we finally get to see Mira mature into a promising beginner in the game of intrigue that permeates the city. Not only does she uncover who is working with the Whitehills to plot against her family, she brings the conspiracy to a crashing halt, in addition to making threats of her own while keeping an eye out for Sera’s interests.
All of the storylines seem to be gathering momentum as the episodes go by and it will be interesting to see how TellTale can possibly make all of them come together as I’m presuming they will, or it will be very odd to have played out an adventure that was completely irrelevant to anything else.
Another issue is that the action sequences are still a bit wonky, with some strange inputs for certain sequences. As an example, there is one point where the game wants you to duck down. Normally, you’d expect to press the down arrow or the ‘S’ key as you would in every other game. Here, you press ‘E’. No reason why, I just guess TellTale wanted to screw with the player’s expectations?
The downbeat ending to "Sons of Winter" contrasts hugely with the otherwise positive mood throughout the rest of the episode and ultimately prevents the episode from being as good as it could've been. If only we could’ve finished on a high note… just once!