Review: Game of Thrones – Episode IV: Sons of Winter

The Game of Thrones saga continues our heroes rise and fall, bringing us further into the extended universe of Westeros.  Does Sons of Winter continue the winning streak that Telltale has been going on, or has winter come and are we left in the cold?

*This review may contain mild spoilers from previous episodes due to the necessity to follow up on certain earlier events throughout the structure of this review.BANNER_STORYAs the war for the throne of Westeros ranges on behind the scenes of the universe our characters each run into the troubles of their own lives. The Forrester house is hanging on to the ridge of defeat, and all across Westeros its members fight battles of their own in order to bring back order to their home in the North. From Rodrik’s fight for their homestead in the North to Asher’s search for an army across the Narrow Sea, Sons of Winter brings valuable plot progression to the first season of Game of Thrones.

Following the turmoil of The Sword in the Darkness, each of our characters has found themselves in a conflict that has escalated the situation to new heights. Rodrik’s quest to re-take and defend House Forrester seems to have showcased some new possibilities, but every decision has its consequences, which this episode makes more than apparent across storylines.SCREEN_GOT_0000_Layer 3One of the most engaging arcs throughout Sons of Winter is Asher’s journey to find an army to protect his home across the Narrow Sea. After the heated confrontation with one of Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons, which has seemingly brought up some interesting opportunities for him and his companions. Faced with a battle that is not his own, Asher must work and find and compose new allegiances in order to take the next step in fulfilling his task. Arguably this particular arc does take a while to build up steam due to the fact that the storyline needed time to develop, but the payoff delivers a finale that is quite compelling.

As mentioned earlier, Rodrik’s arc continues as House Forrester finds itself in peril due to Griff Whitehill’s conquest over the halls of his own home. Approached by Gwyn Whitehill, Rodrik finds himself in a situation where he may have to compromise his own morals in order to get what he’s been fighting for throughout the season so far. Leading people isn’t easy, and when the enemy roams within your midst (literally and figuratively), maintaining your moral code may seem harder than it ever has been. The strong aspect of this part of Sons of Winter is the fact that all the little choices you have to make can really reflect on both you and the character, providing a view of your form of leadership and morality. In the storyline itself the outcomes may not seem as drastically different, but it’s these little narrative moments that provide some excellent character development, regardless wether these moments are chosen by the player or the developer itself. The only drawback of this particular arc is the position it finds itself in the third act. The slightly undefined structure of the balance between these acts creates some structural flaws that effect the tension somewhat.SCREEN_GOT_0001_Layer 2Gared’s storyline is somewhat smaller in size than usual when it comes to contents, and can be seen as buildup for the penultimate and final episodes of the season. The events are still engaging by the standards of this particular arc in the past few episodes, though development is somewhat limited until the third act. Some of the content seems somewhat like filler material, though its quality remains.

The events at King’s Landing involving Mira may be a hit or miss for some due to the political/narrative driven structure of the arc throughout the episode. Don’t expect anything in the scale of the other arcs when it comes to events, but the story progression throughout does give an interesting perspective into what’s going on behind the scenes whilst everyone is at each other’s throats.BANNER_PRESENTATIONThere isn’t much to be said about the visual fidelity of the game in regards to the differences between this and the previous episodes, so you can refer to the reviews of Iron From Ice, The Lost Lords and The Sword in the Darkness.BANNER_GAMEPLAYThe fourth episode of Game of Thrones brings us yet another 2-3 hours of Telltale’s classic gameplay formula, but does it still hold up? The basis of the formula still works very well, though the dialogue-driven structure of certain arcs may be a bit slow for some when it comes to pacing, but the payoff more than makes up for this fact. The only related question is wether the extended season may find some players fatigued by the structure of the game.BANNER_CONCLUSIONSons of Winter provides players yet another strong instalment in what may be one of Telltale’s best offerings in recent history. There are some structural issues that hold the episode back from being one of the strongest this season, but it holds up well in comparison to its predecessors. With engaging storylines and strong character development Sons of Winter is definitely worth your time!

 

Story8
Presentation7
Gameplay8
Compelling story arcs
Proper payoff for previous events
Strong character development
Slightly disjointed third act
Buildup seems a tad bit slow
8
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