> # Welcome to GameGrinOS v1.01 > # How can I help you? > # Press ` again to close
Hello… | Log in or sign up
Telltale's Game of Thrones Episode 5 Review

Telltale's Game of Thrones Episode 5 Review

Telltale Games has spent a long time crafting this series set in George R. R. Martin’s world of Westeros. It’s been almost a year since the first episode came out, and while it may seem like the renowned storytelling developers have been putting a lot of care and attention into each episode, I’m beginning to wonder if that’s truly the case, or if the developers have lost control of their original purpose.

In Game of Thrones Episode 5: A Nest of Vipers (to give it its full title), things finally seem to kick off for each of your playable characters. I wrote in my review for Episode 3 that the pieces appeared to be moving into place, and in some cases in this fifth act you can see them reaching their final destination. However, with what has been a criticism laid at the feet of Telltale for some time, that destination may be a pre-determined one, no matter how you think your choices might have affected it.

In case you have not been following my series of reviews, the story in this Telltale-brand Game of Thrones follows one central family from the North – the Forresters. Blessed with the naturally-occurring resource of Ironwood surrounding their holdfast, they nonetheless find themselves on the wrong side of the war when Robb Stark is ambushed at the Twins. As tragedy upon tragedy befalls the family, you take on the role of its prominent members, attempting to avert the house’s destruction.

Everything from the last four episodes is there in abundance in the fifth showing, and each is as good as in previous installments. The art style, though a bit blurry and clunky in places, is still an impressive representation of the world of A Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire. Central characters aside, those representing actors and actresses on the HBO series (Tyrion, Cersei, Daenerys) are modelled almost to perfection and realistically recreate the mannerisms and looks of those on the TV screen.

telltale game of thrones episode 5 pitfight screenshot

The writing, too, is as snappy as can be expected from the developers behind The Walking Dead. However it’s not without its shortcomings at times - Gared Tuttle, who starts off as a loyal member of House Forrester, joins The Watch and loses much of his characterisation and drive over the course of the game – others are extremely well written and cast. A particular highlight is Asher Forrester, the exiled middle child of the family, who gallivants around Essos trying to find an army to bring back home. As someone who likes to roleplay his characters (rather than impose my own views and sensibilities on to them, because I’m a goody two-shoes), watching Asher go from a loveable rogue to an even more loveable rogue has been one of the great highlights for me.

Mechanically the game is a similar affair to predecessors, with dialogue branching off into different options and timed to pressure you into a response. These scenes of exposition, discussion and thought are punctuated by quick-time events to rouse you from the slumber the game seems to (wrongly) expect you to be in after matching wits with the likes of Tyrion Lannister. It can be an annoying interruption, especially when a failed quick-time event can often mean the last five minutes you spent in dialogue were for nothing.

Episode 5 provides an understated but immersive soundtrack, too – never stealing the show yet always lurking in the background to enhance tension or instil a sense of danger. Sound effects are sharp and never out of place – though the game never really attempts anything more complex than the ringing of swords.

Nest of vipers Rodrik and Ransay

Now, you must understand that with all these things considered I still don’t find myself enjoying Episode 5 as much as I did the previous iterations. I was worried before going into this review that I was suffering from a strain of fatigue associated with seeing my choices in-game amount to little more than off-hand remarks. As it turns out, I was more or less right to have those concerns.

The previous episodes have done well in demonstrating how your secondary cast can change their opinion of you depending on your actions: allies might become disgruntled, enemies enraged and lovers spurned. Yet the chapters have always boiled down to three or four major choices that, all things considered, don’t really change the narrative at all.

A major plot point in the series is revealed in this episode, one that fans have been pondering for some time and with much deliberation. Unfortunately the twist, which had been driving fans on forums and social media crazy with speculation, was based upon a single decision you made in the very first episode. Nothing you do following that one major choice changes the outcome. As it turns out the twist matched my story quite well, yet for others it was baffling.

This sort of storytelling has been something detractors and fans of Telltale have flagged up for some time. There’s a reason why the company lists itself as a creator of ‘interactive cinema’ on its website. This is Telltale's story, not yours. This comes as a slight shock to those who play these sorts of interactive games to have their decisions shape a final outcome. Will your friend betray you because of some small slight? Will an enemy sacrifice themselves because you were honourable? As it turns out in Episode 5, it’ll only happen if Telltale wanted it to happen.

To give this episode it's due, there is one major decision that had me tearing my hair out over what to choose. It is probably the hardest I’ve had to make in the series and it’s a shame that it came about at a time when I was questioning my interest in the story. I can only hope that I don’t live to regret my choice when I find out in the next episode that no matter what I did the outcome is still the same. Perhaps you can forgive Telltale, due to the veritable torrent of projects they have lined up on the horizon. Yet, like fans of George R. R. Martin, I’m beginning to wonder if the next installment will be worth the wait.


7.00/10 7

Game of Thrones - A Telltale Games Series (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Episode 5 arrives with such promise, yet withers a little when the game is forced to try and weave a conducive storyline out of your choices. Inevitably, as a player, you lose out on what could have been a satisfyingly unique experience.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Alex Hamilton

Alex Hamilton

Staff Writer

Financial journalist by trade, GameGrin writer by choice. Writing skills the result of one million monkeys with one million typewriters.

Share this:


Acelister - 10:47am, 14th September 2015

I didn't even know about the "traitor" plotline before my wife began playing the first episode. As soon as she asked "Who should I choose? This one or the shifty looking one?", I knew what was going to happen down the line...