Review: Game of Thrones – Episode III: The Sword in the Darkness

Telltale’s Game of Thrones saga continues as the world of Westeros continues its downfall into war.BANNER_STORYThe story of The Sword in the Darkness continues the intertwining storylines that were set up in the first two episodes. All across Westeros and beyond the Forresters are resisting the forces who plan to invade them and prepare to defend the kingdom that they call home. Asher, Rodrik, Gared and Mira’s tales continue as their situations are seemingly escalating even further, providing even more pressure on their perspective roles in the fight for their house.

Across the Narrow Sea, Asher continues his journey with his travel companions Beshka and his uncle Malcolm seek for an army to defend House Forrester. Their journey basically acts as the bookends to the narrative of The Sword in the Darkness, but it also forms an important piece of narrative progression that ties the narrative of Telltale’s Game of Thrones even further into the mythos of the world of Westeros beyond the containments of the expanded universe they’ve been setting up ever since the first episode. Truth be told character development may not be the strongest part of this section of the series, but every event seems to be more of a small piece of a greater plan than it seems to be at first glance. Asher seems like a perfectly fine and likeable character so far, but the bookend/transition style of his sequences are implications that his actions will be more important towards the end of the season, but at the time his segments may feel less significant. This is an obvious trade-off, but the structure works well for the episode, providing powerful opening and closing segments for this strong episode.GOT3_0002_Layer 13Rodrik’s sections provide the emotional aspects/impact of this episode, and the continuing struggle/resistance at House Forrester is escalating to a point where the tension could really be a cut with a knife. The Whitehill’s are steadily expanding their foothold on the Forrester house. As the family Forrester runs out of options Rodrik and his council contemplate wether to submit or rise against the forces that seek to control their legacy. The decision making involved in these sequences seemed to be the most important you had to make due to the impact they could have on your stance as the lord of House Forrester. Of course these moral discussions often go more deeply beyond the actual game’s narrative due to the limitations of the impact they can have on the structure of the story on a broader scale, but the sheer fact that you have to choose between defiance and compliance really make you feel like you’re growing as a character along with Rodrik, who has proved himself to be a strong character even beyond the decisions that you make for him as part of the gameplay. The buildup these sections of Game of Thrones have provided created a strong and well-told structure that strengthens the other intertwined storylines due to the fact that most of your motivations will lie in ending the events that occur here.

Gared’s storyline can be seen as a cross between the former two mentioned storylines. His story on and beyond the wall serves as a supporting structure that uses a well-placed MacGuffin that plays into the greater narrative of what the main characters are trying to achieve. Gared’s storyline can be seen as the most similar to the formula the TV series itself follows, though episode 3 really gives Gared his own proper differentiations that set him apart and give his story a proper sense of progression. His search for the North Grove has his recent history haunt him, and the past isn’t as willing to let go as he may seem to be depending on your actions. The thing with a lot of these characters is that they can seem more vengeful or forgiving depending on your choices, and experiences may differ as your own mentality can form the grander details of a character’s story arc, albeit in a more mental than actual visual manner of course.GOT3_0001_Layer 14Mira’s storyline seemed to be the most lacking in regards to narrative quality. Aside from a few escalations her role in the narrative has seemingly been a political break from the more up close and personal aspects of the rest of the story, aside from the earlier noted occasional distractions. Mira does seem to be improving as a character and a narrative section, though the pacing of her storyline does seem to be off from time to time. A problem that popped up during this episode is that the narrative negates some of the earlier decisions you’ve been making during the season, and even though this probably plays into the greater scheme of things it kind of feels lacklustre to make a decision and have it handled in such a manner.

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The Sword in the Darkness isn’t the strongest episode in the series so far, but it’s not far off. There are certain issues that pop up here and there, but Telltale has remained impressively consistent this season so far when it comes to writing.BANNER_PRESENTATIONhere has been nothing much new to note about the visual fidelity of Telltale’s Game of Thrones. You can reference the reviews for Episode I and Episode II for any earlier notes I had about the graphics of the series so far.BANNER_GAMEPLAYEpisode III: The Sword in the Darkness retains the same pattern of dialogue, exploration and action that the series has followed so far. Exploration is kept to a limited amount and the game puts a stronger emphasis on the dialogue itself, with occasional side-steps into combat and/or other physical aspects. The episode gives players a lot of decisions to make, and some great action sequences to boot. There isn’t much to explore and find in the episode, but the pacing itself doesn’t lend much to this aspect. You’ll have your occasional moments of finding something, but there are no actual puzzle aspects to be found for the most past.

As with the presentation section, you can reference the reviews for the first two episodes for any further notes.BANNER_CONCLUSIONTelltale continues to present players with a consistent and well-crafted series that retains its narrative quality and provides long-time fans both new and familiar sights into the world of Westeros. The Sword in the Darkness isn’t the strongest of the three episodes out so far, but it comes close.

Compelling buildup
Interesting character development
Certain player choices are nullified due to plot development
Visual inconsistensies
Some pacing issues