WARNING: REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS.
Arriving at the penultimate episode, you wouldn’t be mistaken to expect huge thrills, a break-neck pace, and significant events to unfold as the series climbs towards its thrilling conclusion. Unfortunately for Telltale’s Game of Thrones, however, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. For all of the narrative that has escalated piece-by-piece since its debut, episode five – ‘A Nest of Vipers’, is surprisingly light in major plot developments, and leaves much to be desired when the credits begin to roll.
As an avid fan of the series’ offerings, I can’t help but feel nothing but frustration. Though up until episode three the series had struggled to fully establish its core characters and narrative, it had since showed a great deal of promise that this would be a series with a huge pay-off. It’s a shame then that I don’t believe the epic conclusion to this series will even slightly resemble the one that everyone is expecting.
Throwing many doubts in question over what plot strands will actually be tied by the end, this latest instalment has a lot to say, but not a lot to do. Worryingly, the game goes in the totally wrong direction, and instead of starting to wrap-up the events that have been brewing since the beginning, it chooses instead to either do nothing much at all, or add more, making the series feel bloated, and leaving some of the characters miles away from completing their goals. It’s because of this that I can’t help but shake the feeling that the folks at Telltale Games are holding back a significant amount of the current story-arch for a second season – an incredibly annoying possibility. With all of the core storylines developing so slowly thus far, it’s seeming unlikely that they will offer much closure to the key events, with cop-out cliffhangers looking to be on the horizon.
Spilling out chapters that descend into nothing, Gared’s story is the biggest case to back up this prediction. Nothing really happens with his character here, and he is still far from locating ‘The North Grove’. He doesn’t journey anywhere, and in fact, finishes the chapter in the same location as he ended the previous. The interaction here lacks any significance, and it’s only towards the end of his last chapter where anything actually happens. That said, the action that follows feels forced, and comes out of nowhere.
Mira’s chapters don’t fare very well either, and though a considerable amount more happens during her game time than Gared’s, it’s just not very interesting on the whole. A run-in with Cersei manages to catch some attention half-way through, but what follows fails to match the same tension or excitement of what came before it. It’s disappointing to see that this particular storyline failed to progress all that much from the events of episode four, and this instalment serves to only add further complication to Mira’s already sticky situation, leaving her further away from completing her goals.
This episode is not devoid of any merit, however, and there are still scenes that hold significance and offer plentiful entertainment, it’s just that any trace of these are few, and far between. Receiving the biggest push out of all the storylines, Asher’s scenario for the most part takes the logical steps forward and brings him closer to the end of his adventure. His journey here is pretty solid throughout, and one last memorable scene set within Essos is crammed in before he departs to Westeros at the end.
Rodrik’s story, as you come to expect this far into the series, is full of plenty of misery. House Forrester continues to get battered into the ground throughout, and despite this becoming rather tiring by this point, it’s at least clear that they will soon rise above and engage the Whitehills. Though this storyline bags a nerve-wracking opener, interest does begin to dwindle slightly during the half-way point, but towards the final act things start to ramp back up for an emotional conclusion. Though rather sudden, the ending is at least effective in its execution, and players must make a snap, heart-breaking decision that holds a great deal of consequence to what will follow.
The biggest crime of this episode is found within its atrocious pacing, of which seems determined to reduce the game to a crawl for the most part. Adopting the structure of previous instalments, the game starts off slowly and then gradually builds up towards the ending. For an episode so late in the series, this has a disastrous effect, and for a great deal of this episode the experience feels sluggish and ill-fitting. Though moments of heightened tension and excitement demonstrate the highs that this episode should be offering more frequently, the overall package is underwhelming, and by no means feels like an episode that should be setting the stage for an ending of some sort.
Episode five is by no means a terrible experience, but with only one more instalment to go before the series is over, this one simply doesn’t do enough. Perhaps I would be easier on this episode if it wasn’t so late in the series’ lifecycle, but in all honesty, at time this feels like a filler episode. Characters and storylines don’t get the push you would expect, and the likelihood that there will be closure to the core plot points is diminished. This episode is quite simply disappointing.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.