The woe of the Forresters continues in Telltale's Game of Thrones Episode 4 — Sons of Winter. Much like the previous episode seemed to have been permeated by hopelessness, so too is Episode 4. However, Episode 4 introduces something at stake for the Forresters and creates a great amount of tension, using Telltale's time-limiting factor in dialogue to its fullest.
The Forresters do seem to have even less luck than the Starks somehow, even when the Forresters seem to have something going for them. Any plan, at least so far, seems to be shattered before it can even begin. Particularly in Episode 4, a plan gets put in place that seems reasonable and will move things along. Then a new problem arises seemingly out of nowhere to ruin it all. And, of course, that is the cliffhanger anyone playing a Telltale game should be accustomed to being left on — why has a certain character returned?
Though, that does nothing to diminish the tense moments that lead up to a plan the Forresters think will work, which in the grand scheme of things they know will be a relatively small victory. From entering a Red Wedding-esque situation to gambling the life of a loved on, to gambling one's own life, the Forresters seem to be desperate for any sort of positive outcome at this point.
In that tension, it is nice to see some of the characters grow. Mira, in King's Landing, seems to have a great moment of growth in this episode in particular. We met her in Episode 1 as a naive handmaiden who knew less about the politics in King's Land than Ned Stark seemed to. Now though, her dialogue and choices seem to show that she is beginning to understand what happens in King's Landing very much.
She seems to have a bigger job than most of the Forresters in a decidedly more dangerous place, more dangerous than even a Whitehill controlled Ironrath. The most frustrating part about Mira's sections is the information she gathers. She knows it, but there is no indication, yet at least, that any of the other Forresters know. Her function in the plot seems to be the most promising for a big payoff. At least Telltale is setting it up that way; only time will tell if they decide to capitalize on it.
Part of the reason the tension grows, as do some characters, has to do with what is at stake. So far, Telltale's Game of Thrones has been slowly building up with much of the Forrester misery rising with it. That seems to have led to desperation as most of the playable characters this episode find themselves in the most unpleasant and risky of situations. Without having all of the information and not know who can be trusted, each big choice this episode seems to have been chosen relatively blindly. Those difficult decisions introduced in Episode 2 only seem to be getting more difficult.
It's clear that the Forresters are out of their element and don't know what they are doing most of the time. So far, that has, time and again, led to a less tenable decision. It would be nice to see something positive come their way that is not, ultimately, destroyed in the next few minutes. Much of that seems to be due to all of that unknown before. Something that seems to be a good decision at the time only gets blindsided by another because the Forresters didn't see it coming. They'll need to turn that around if there is any hope of them coming out of this by the end.
All of that may be Telltale's way of building up to some great moments of revenge, but knowing A Song of Ice and Fire, this will end only in grey.
I have alluded to this in past reviews, but Asher's storyline continues to feel more and more contrived. So far, it's only purpose seems to have a character in Essos to interact with Daenerys and see some dragons. As I spoke of in the last review, the few avenues his story in particular seem to be going are particularly blocked by what people watching the show/read the book already know. Though, that does leave Telltale open to doing something original. Something needs to change in his story to really get it going.
The final part to mention is that of Gared's, the squire sent to The Wall. His story is an oddity as it is something both unique to Telltale and not at the same time. To say his story mirrors that of Jon Snow's is an understatement, yet The North Grove has the potential to offer something interesting. In some ways, The North Grove is Telltale's mystical connection to the world of Ice and Fire, which is easy to forget when reading the books and watching the shows.
Gared's quest north of The Wall feels eerily similar to Bran's in the books as well. Bran went north to search for something to save the world — obviously that's much more at stake and dramatic. But, The North Grove serves the same function as finding it seems to be the most significant way to save the Forresters. In many ways the Forresters are to Telltale what Westeros is to Martin. They are the end all be all, and my only hope is that The North Grove doesn't disappoint.
In the end, Episode 4 is like those tiny bubbles that form at the bottom of a pan just before water starts boiling. There is still much rumbling to come, but we have a good taste of what can happen between now and then. Certainly, we can all expect that some of the Forresters' efforts will end in failure, and maybe even death, but it should be interesting along the way.
This game was purchased by the reviewer and reviewed on the PC.